3 suspects in the Brussels Islamist attacks: photo courtesy cbsnews.com
Last year Salman Rushdie produced a clever and striking image. Imagine the daily Islamist-inspired attacks of modern times. Think of Tippi Hedren in ‘The Birds’ when she first sees a crow land on the children’s climbing frame: this is disturbing but not a big problem. Pretty soon you have hundreds, and gulls and crows taking over the space: now you have a pattern and a menace. Salman Rushdie’s 1989 fatwa was the first crow.
At the time, large sections of the chatterati attacked Rushdie for writing ‘The Satanic Verses’, and conspired with the censors and under-writers of murder to surrender the right of authoring a novel which mildly criticized Islam. People such as Shirley Williams, here. The first crow was appeased.
Fast forward 25 or so years past 9/11 and the subsequent 28,000 worldwide jihadi attacks and Islamist inspired violence is the air we breathe. So that the ‘Je suis sick of this shit’ motto on the Brussels attacks is the sole adult – and not predictably sentimental – response from the tumbleweed corners of the internet.
It is the most basic reaction to feel revolt at the wave of kamikaze bombers, but, like Shirley Williams, the masochistic urge to blame ourselves and exculpate the perpetrators is the miasma in large sections of educated western liberal democracies. Embrace the gallows as you feel the hangman’s pain.
There are many ways for westerners to whitewash jihadi terrorism. These are some of the moves I’ve seen over the years. And all of them are wrong.
PERSONALITIES: Alex Jones, Stop the War commenters
9/11 was organized by the Jews and Bush and it was a controlled explosion. The hijacked planes were holograms. There is a secret world-wide conspiracy which wants to simultaneously usher in Communism and oligarchic capitalism. ISIS was founded by Mossad, by the way, and a secret US cabal is responsible for anything bad. No amount of evidence or reason will dissuade these people because they are not in the game of evidence. They are not very bright.
PERSONALITIES: Asim Qureshi, Moazzem Begg, Mo Ansar (for comedy value)
Some are bright, some are incredibly stupid, all assume that we are dumb. He (and it is invariably a ‘he’) is the origin of the oleaginous smear ‘Islamophobic’. He created the word in order to conflate 2 completely separate ideas: the criticism of the doctrine of Islam and existence of anti-Muslim bigotry. And to a large extent it worked; especially on the regressive left, about whom below. In popular parlance, Islamophobic means ‘racist’ and the Islamists know that western liberals have a visceral fear of being accused of that. Islamists play on it like a puppet on a string.
The second gambit is the oppressed minority trope. This takes various forms: the alleged ghettoization of Muslims in the west, whining about imagined MSM anti-Muslim bias, made-up numbers about anti-Muslim attacks (see the dodgy statistics of TellMamaUK), ultra-defensiveness i.e. lies about Islam being a religion of peace. All religions lie about their founding texts: but Islam is the only religion I know of which has an intellectual tradition dedicated to the idea of lying on behalf of the creed. It’s called ‘taqqiyah’. All Islamists indulge in taqqiyah when they engage with non-Muslims. That’s their religion: it’s what God told them to do. Therefore it is good. It is not possible to hold a meaningful conversation with that sort of person.
They use the language of the left – rights, anti-racism, anti-imperialism – to promote sharia, the fenestration of Muslim women and the apologia for terrorism. They are usually good at it.
THE REGRESSIVE LEFTIST
PERSONALITIES: Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Corbyn, the plagiarist CJ Werleman
He does not know what he’s got till it’s gone. Overwhelmingly a middle class comfortable liberal socialist westerner, he is one of the most privileged humans ever on the planet. He has sufficient time to find out about world politics but not to understand it: he has a hyper-empathetic limbic system firing up the peacock display of his instinctual sympathy for the distant news-related working-class Brummie Muslim, yet the decision-making area of his amygdala is under-powered. Like a child, he thinks the groomer is his friend.
Because the RL has seen some poor Muslims, he thinks, with no discernible logic, that ‘Community Leaders’ speak for all Muslims. He would never imagine that Catholic priests speak for all Catholics, whom he knows to hold liberal social opinions and, frequently, views which flat-out contradict RC doctrine. But the RL can only see Muslims, unlike Catholics, as a group. As Muslims in the west are usually brown-skinned, he is racist without even knowing it. But he would be appalled at being called that: hence the vehemence with which he signals his anti-racism.
The RL is the single biggest problem in the west: he utterly confuses defense of Muslims with the ignorant assumption that the religion is some sort of benign Buddhism. He is a useful idiot and when it comes to Islam he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
THE RELIGION DEFENSE
PERSONALITIES: Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Facebookers and Twitterati (whom it would not be fair to name)
The New-Ageist thinks that all religions are the same while failing to note that more than one exists. She will airily declare that Islam cannot be to blame for any atrocity while claiming religious inspiration for good works. She can’t think straight, nor can she talk straight: she confuses grammatically correct sentences with meaningful ones and considers Edward Lear a social realist. Her a priori need to exculpate all religions – whose doctrines she doesn’t know but for which she presumes to advocate – convinces her to defend Saudi Arabian sharia as not Islam. She is capable of the greatest stupidity and barbarism as she sticks to her moon-faced dogma that we are all one in some vague way. She is the arbiter of the literal and the metaphorical: to debate with her is to try to nail down candy floss.
The negative pole of the New-Ageist inclusiveness spiel is the ’all-religions-are-equally-bad’ waffle. Factually untrue, 95% of contemporary terrorist attacks are inspired by Islamism. Nobody has ever feared that the latest atrocity was carried out by those damned Amish. If the Middle East were populated entirely by Jains, the rise of al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood and ISIS would be inexplicable.
PERSONALITIES: Owen Jones, Caitlin Moran
In the wake of terrorist attacks, he posts charitable acts by individual Muslims. After shoppers, commuters, worshippers and carousers have been butchered in cold blood he frets about spreading fear and hatred. He reminds us, truly enough, that by far the majority of Islamist victims are Muslims. He calls jihadis ‘murderous thugs’ as if they were merely Charles Bronsons. He will not examine the connection between Islamic doctrine and Islamist action.
He will be shocked, lament and grieve, and his second thought will be to consider what we have done wrong to deserve this. His third will be to post poems on an orthogonal topic: Syrian refugees is the current go-to area. Yet he will know next to nothing about the declared intentions of Assad and ISIS to infiltrate the long marches across Europe. When this is pointed out to him, he will either remain silent or demonstrate his ability to mind-read: you are a right-winger (and worse). The warm glow of his humanitarianism remains as comforting as the last embers of a winter fire.
What is the difference between the comments on the November 2015 Paris attacks and those in Brussels this month? Not much, the positions are rehearsed and almost ritualized.