Friday, 24 May 2013
What's the worst thing about the most useless prime minister in British history and the London mayor rushing to the airwaves to make sure we all realise how naughty it is to posit any connection between the only world religion whose injunctions to go around murdering people are still taken seriously on a daily basis by millions of its followers all over the world, and the fact that an off-duty soldier had just been hacked to death in broad daylight on the streets of London by two men chanting allahuh akbar?
I seem to remember asking the same question when other instances of Muslims going on a murder rampage resulted in similar lectures, such as the occasion when a group of Muslims blew up a large part of London's underground system during the morning rush hour, and Sir Ian Blair or someone equally ghastly (the memory blurs with time, I'm pleased to report) immediately popped up to say there is no connection between the world 'Islamic' and the word 'terrorism' (saving, of course, in that handy conjunction 'Islamic terrorism', an example of which, ironically enough, had just claimed the lives of 52 innocent people. Oddly, media coverage invariably follows this bit with a paragraph about how the outrages have been condemned by Islamic groups, which is nice of them, given their complete lack of any connection to it. Why no similar disavowal from the British union of pastry chefs? Should we be concerned here?)
The answer I recall settling for (to the question at the head of this post) is the monstrous condescension of it: the grotesquely demeaning and inappropriate tone of a parent laying down the law to a child, the notion that we need to be told what to think; that our conclusions are not our own, and if we decide otherwise we can expect trouble from them.
Actually, though, watching this appalling, simpering man nursing his sincerity hernia yesterday, it occurred to me that there is also something profoundly disrespectful and warped about the spectacle, as well as merely patronising: it is not simply that we need to be told what to think, and that he thinks he has the right to tell us, but also that to do so is the first and most important task he has to perform as a result of the crime.
Yes, of course, the usual hollow rhetoric about never giving in to terrorism (tell that to the Irish), about all communities coming together in condemnation (oh yes: there they go now, united in condemnation: hiya, fellas!), and about how our values will remain unaltered by such threats (phew! internet pornography's safe for another twelve months, guys).
But more important than any of that manly condemnation of the killers and sensitive sympathy for the victim-type stuff, once that's been got out of the way in what could easily be word for word what was said every other time (he should just stand there and spout keywords: APPALLING, CONDEMN, INVESTIGATION... ) the really important thing is what we decide to conclude about it.
Why does he even care? I don't care a rat's nutsack what he thinks, so why does he care what I think?
That's a good question, actually. Why does he care? Does he fear some kind of indiscriminate mass-backlash? If so, he has a simultaneously low opinion of his people (who have shown remarkable restraint until now) and high opinion of himself (if he thinks warning us sternly would be enough to quell it).
Or is he afraid of a massive escalation in such attacks, were he to admit to their doctrinal nature?
Cowardice is certainly a huge part of it, but as I have written elsewhere, I don't despise cowardice, especially when it's rational. My only concern here is that this particular example of look-the-other-way cowardice is likely to have the effect of making worse the problem it is trying to appease.
So yes, it's partly a mixture of those things. But it's also simply that Cameron is a definitive example of the kind of slimy, relativistic media class toad to whom we cravenly handed over responsibility for our destinies towards the end of last century, and that really is the normal way those kinds of people think and speak and carry on.
Still, how dare he!
How dare this little pipsqueak, born after the assassination of Kennedy and too young to remember the moon landings, presume to tell a populace what to think when a British soldier is savagely murdered in the street by religious fruitcakes? A populace that still contains many who would have heard Churchill's speeches on their original broadcast (such as the immortal "we will compromise with them on the beaches" and that inspiring one about how it would be wrong to attribute the actions of a few warped Nazis to the German people generally).
What generation of Britons before our own would have expected - still less been expected - to accept that a British soldier being hacked to death before their eyes is something that could happen, and must be incorporated into their sense of everyday reality?
How many centuries back do we need to go for anything comparable to that? How many centuries of certainty and security are we pissing down the drain here?
No, Cameron, we do not need to be told what to think about this. We need to be told that it won't be happening any more.