‘I stand with Paris, but…’
We must engage with the real motivation behind the Paris attacks.
Weasel words abound today. ‘Inappropriate’, ‘hurtful’, ‘uncomfortable’ and ‘problematic’ all sound harmless, but they are snide tools employed to silence voices, words and ideas. They are passive instruments of evasion, cowardice and censorship.
The weasel word of 2015 par excellence has been the simple ‘but’. We heard it after the Charlie Hebdo murders: ‘I condemn violence, and I’m all for free speech, but…’ You know the rest. In the war against the barbarians, the word ‘but’ has become shorthand for ‘it’s the West’s fault’; ‘we are reaping the whirlwind’; or ‘Muslims are all tetchy, mental infants anyhow so we mustn’t provoke them’.
After the most recent slaughter in Paris, ‘but’ has resurfaced from the mouths of liberal-left flagellants, Islamist apologists and students with room-temperature IQs. But what about French foreign policy? But what of our interventions in the Middle East? Didn’t we bring this on ourselves?
It’s all so predictable. So, too, are those who believe that disasters have a hierarchy of grief. ‘I see this whole Paris thing’, one British Muslim told The Times on Tuesday, ‘and think what about Beirut? What about Yemen and Libya and Syria and Palestine? Where are the tears for these places and those people?’
Asking ‘where are the tears for the people in Yemen?’ is like asking ‘Why did you cry when your father died, but not when mine did?’ The closer something is to home, literally and figuratively, the more it’s going to affect you. You or I could have been victims of those attacks. These were people like us: listening to music, eating pizza or watching football on a Friday night out. That’s how shock, horror and disgust work. These are instinctive emotions beyond the governance of reason. And remember that Paris is a global city, and France the most popular tourist destination in the world.
The ultimate defence among those who seek to rationalise Islamism is that it’s ‘perverted’ or ‘twisted’: it’s not ‘true Islam’. One can forgive this argument from Muslims, most of whom are appalled by these gun-toting jihadists who murder in the name of their faith. But it’s not excusable from secular folk who know better. It is another form of evasive servility.
There’s no such thing as ‘twisted Islam’, because there’s no ‘true Islam’ either. Faiths, which have no external referent, are merely what their believers believe them to be. Those kindly, aged Methodists down the road from you are just as Christian as the Crusaders who butchered their way through the Holy Land in the Middle Ages. They just live in a different time and space.
Much of the secular liberal-left and imbecile Twitterati don’t understand or won’t admit to non-material reasons for people’s behaviour. It must be about ‘poverty’ or ‘inequality’. Similarly in sections on the right, there’s the temptation to dismiss these Islamists as inveterate criminals or psychopaths.
Poverty, personality and Western interventionism may be aggravating factors, but they are not the spur to Islamist barbarity. These attacks on Paris were spawned by a sense of righteousness, by a love of power and lust for violence, and the promise of the afterlife.
If this was about poverty and inequality, why aren’t white Frenchmen shooting strangers? If it’s about foreign policy, why do no world leaders, generals and statesmen live under a fatwa, but writers, artists and activists do? What do you think was behind the motives of those who killed people in places where sexes could mingle, drink alcohol and listen to infidel music? Why was the liberal, cosmopolitan 11th arrondissement attacked and not an instrument of the French state? Paris, say IS, is ‘the capital of abominations and perversion, the one that carries the banner of the cross of Europe’.
The West fought alongside Muslims in Afghanistan during the Cold War. Before 9/11 we bombed a Christian country, Serbia, to protect Muslims in Kosovo. Today, the attempted genocide of the Yazidis and the destruction of Ancient Syrian temples aren’t ‘our fault’. These actions are the product of a viral ideology possessed of self-righteousness, resentment and a sense of victimhood: the heady ingredients for a hideous mindset that is beyond reason and material considerations.
‘Not necessity, not desire’, warned that supreme psychologist, Friedrich Nietzsche, in Daybreak (1881). ‘[N]o, the love of power is the demon of men. Let them have everything – health, food, a place to live, entertainment – they are and remain unhappy and low spirited: for the demon waits and waits and will be satisfied.’
Talking of egotists full of rage and grievance, the more today’s spoilt Stepford Students shriek and wail, the less we will take them seriously.
Enter Glenn Reynolds, a law professor at Tennessee University, who writes in USA Today that the age of voting should be raised from 18 to 25:
‘To be a voter, one must be able to participate in adult political discussions. It’s necessary to be able to listen to opposing arguments and even… to change your mind in response to new evidence. This evidence suggests that, whatever one might say about the 18-year-olds of 1971, the 18-year-olds of today aren’t up to that task. And even the 21-year-olds aren’t looking so good.’
The more students behave like children, with their tantrums, safe spaces and megalomaniac solipsism, the more they should be treated accordingly.
Strolling through the East Kent town of Deal on Saturday, I heard a market-stall holder ask a woman: ‘So where are you originally from?’ To which she replied: ‘I’m from Poland. I originally lived in London, but it’s too crowded now, so we decided to move down here.’
‘London’s too crowded’ has become a common complaint, though, paradoxically, London seems too crowded because a lot of it is too empty. Much property in the capital’s central and west is unoccupied, acting instead as holiday homes for the international super-rich, safety boxes by foreign governments or held as a reserve currency like the US dollar.
London feels too crowded because the middle-classes, especially those with children of school age, are priced-out of an artificially-inflated market and now commute from the suburbs or Home Counties. This is why the Tube and London’s railway stations are so full.
Many people blame immigration and the consequent spike in population for our housing crisis. Others say that we should be building on green belts. I say there should be tougher rules on unoccupied second houses, but this is anathema to free-market fundamentalists who view homes as commodities. If Labour had any connection with reality today, it’s something it should be making a noise about.
Whatever the solution, I think it progression of a sort when even Poles are leaving London, complaining that it’s ‘too crowded’. What could be more British than that?
Patrick West is a spiked columnist. Follow him on Twitter: @patrickxwest
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