Dalrymple had this piece on the Finsbury Park Mosque attack published in the New York Daily News a couple of days ago (somewhat surprising given the paper’s leftist orientation):
I am no Muslim theologian, but Islamic extremists can hardly be blamed for concluding from their religious belief that neither western societies nor western governments are legitimate. Their position is not illogical, given its premises. God, not man, is sovereign; the Koran is the word of God; therefore all that is not derivable from the Koran, or is opposed to it, is evil in the sense of being against God’s sovereignty. Only God has the right to be obeyed, and if he says kill, then kill we must.
This is not a recipe for tolerance, to put it mildly…
Listening to politicians’ declarations after the latest Muslim terrorist attack in London, Dalrymple hears the same old thing:
May said on this occasion that “enough is enough”—meaning what, exactly? That a little terrorism is acceptable, as if the perpetrators were boisterous children finally being called to order after having been given leeway by the grown-ups?
Things will have to change, she said, without specifying which things. To specify would have been to invite criticism, opposition, opprobrium—and just before an election, no less. Best keep to clichés.
Yesterday the Wall Street Journal carried “Terror and the Teddy Bear Society”, Dalrymple’s op-ed on Islamic terrorism and the Western response, which he calls “creative appeasement”:
Authorities make concessions even before, one suspects, there have been any demands for them…The Birmingham airport has set aside a room for wudu, the Muslim ablutions before prayer. No other religion is catered for in this fashion (nor should they be, in my opinion), so the impression is inevitably given that Islam is in some way favored or privileged. Again, it would be difficult to find out whether they received requests or demands for such a room or merely anticipated them; in either case, weakness is advertised.
This is surely a fundamental difference between left and right in our politics, with the former believing that this advertising of weakness discourages attacks. But…
From all this the terrorists surely draw a great deal of comfort. It gives them the impression of living in a weak society that will be easy to destroy, so that their acts are not in the least nihilistic or pointless, as is often claimed. They perceive ours as a candle-and-teddy-bear society (albeit mysteriously endowed with technological prowess): We kill, you light candles. The other day I passed a teddy-bear shop, that is to say a shop that sold nothing but teddy bears. I am sure that terrorism is good for business, but the teddy bears are more reassuring for the terrorists than for those who buy them to place on the site of the latest outrage.
As the slope of Dutch assisted suicide appears to indeed be getting slippery, Dalrymple addresses the arguments in favor of the practice, and finds them wanting:
…if one has a right to die by another’s hand, others must have a duty to kill one; otherwise the right is a dead letter, a mere phrase. It might be, for example, that a person who wished to die could not find someone willing to kill him. Would he then be able to complain to a court that his human rights had been violated, and would the court be able then to require someone to kill him? Could a professional body such as doctors be required, on pain of disciplinary action, to kill people who were in no sense ill but merely fed up? Or would we instead have to institute a new profession, that of thanatologists, whose job it would be to kill people in compliance with their wishes…
Apparently a Scottish comedian named Markus Meechan is in some absurd legal trouble for a video in which he jokingly attempted to train a pug to be a Nazi, but what Dalrymple finds most interesting is Meechan’s appearance.
What struck me most about Mr. Meechan, however, was that (according, at least, to the photographs that I saw of him) he had managed to make himself uglier than his girlfriend’s pug, which is again no mean achievement. No doubt he—Mr. Meechan, not the dog—was unfavored by nature (as so many of us indeed are), but it took some determination on his part to look quite as hideous as he manages to do. In this, however, he was only showing how deeply conventional was his mind, for such primitive self-mutilation as he indulges in has now become a mass phenomenon. If dandyism had been the fashion, he would no doubt have been a dandy; but unfortunately the fashion is now to make oneself look like a barbarian attacking the Roman legions on the other side of Hadrian’s Wall. There is nothing as feeble as the human mind when it is in the grip of the desire to be fashionable.
A sign at a Paris bus stop recently implied a right, not just to health care, but to health itself….
The absurdity of this is obvious. If I discover tomorrow that I have a fatal tumor, my rights have not been denied me, any more than they were when I was born less handsome than I should like to have been. Even health care is not a right, though it is obviously desirable that everyone should have access to it…
Delineating the difficulties of predicting who will become a terrorist threat:
Any characteristic that is found among suicide bombers is likely to be found among many people who are not suicide bombers. The number of dissipated young men who turn arrogantly pious, for example, is likely to be a hundred times greater than that of suicide bombers. And this problem is likely to subsist, however refined the analysis becomes: the numerator will always be much smaller than the denominator. Moreover, surveillance itself will always remain fallible, however brilliant its successes. A friend of mine who works for the secret services assured me that there have been many more terrorist plots dismantled than the public knows about; but for most of us it is the plot that succeeds rather than the 10 or 20 that do not that counts. Only preventive detention for those with the identified characteristics of suicide bombers would eliminate the risk of any of them carrying out an outrage; but that would be to abrogate the rule of law.
Salman Abedi was solidly middle class, so the familiar, lazy argument that lack of economic opportunity was his motivation does not pass muster….
What, then, does explain it? Perhaps in earlier times he would have found a Marxist groupuscule that would have provided him with the total explanation of all the ills of the world that troubled youth so often seek, and that also suggests to them the equally total solution to them. But the downfall of the Soviet Union destroyed completely the prestige of Marxism, however much theoretical Marxists may have denied that the Soviet Union was a genuinely Marxist state: and so, Salman Abedi sought his total explanation and solution elsewhere. The obvious place was Islam, for he was of Muslim descent and heritage and there were no other contenders for the possession of his soul, both little and grandiose. I never thought I would lament the demise of Marxism, but I have recently begun to remember it rather more fondly. By comparison with Islamism, it was intellectually compelling; Marxists could have interesting things to say, however mistaken they were, which Islamists never can and never will be able to do. At most, they are interesting to psychopathologists.
Theresa May appears to be attempting to defeat Labour….by adopting its positions:
In the matter of taxing and spending, she is to the left of Mr. Blair, of the supposedly left-wing Labor Party. He was only for spending without taxation, while she is for spending without a promise that she will not raise taxation. I suppose that this is an advance of a kind; but even Mr. Blair, who was to economic thought what Walt Disney was to the zoological study of mice, did not believe in price controls of vital commodities as a means of assisting the poor, as she appears to do with regard to the prices of gas and electricity. Here the late Hugo Chavez is more her guru than is Mrs. Thatcher.
Dalrymple warns of a “creeping sovietization”:
We must not only keep silent about propositions that we find not only false but ridiculous, but assent to them, to show willingness and demonstrate that we are (to use a vile modern locution, redolent of a tyranny exercised over us) on message. The message must never be of our own devising, or indeed attributable to anyone in particular. It must be absurd and unassailable at the same time.