Dalrymple observes in City Journal that the recent conviction of Dutch politician Geert Wilders on grounds of incitement to discrimination – “in other words, not even discrimination itself” – was wildly illogical, probably made Wilders more popular rather than less, and was itself applied discriminatorially:
The Guardian article, oddly enough, was accompanied by a photograph of some Muslim protesters in Amsterdam holding up banners in favor of sharia law….“Sharia for the Netherlands,” said one banner. “Islam will dominate the world, freedom can go to hell,” said another.
Anyone who advocates sharia can plausibly be said to incite discrimination….Were, then, these protesters charged with incitement to discrimination?….I think it is a fair supposition, however, that no action was taken against them.
The law against incitement to discrimination is therefore implemented in a discriminatory way, something that those even marginally susceptible to Wilders’s rhetoric won’t fail to notice, though the readers of the Guardian probably will.
Dalrymple sees, in those who light candles after a terrorist attack, the very modern claim to be “spiritual but not religious”, as well as simple weakness:
The reason (I surmise) that so many people claim to be spiritual rather than religious is that being spiritual imposes no discipline upon them, at least none that they do not choose themselves. Being religious, on the other hand, implies an obligation to observe rules and rituals that may interfere awkwardly with daily life….
It would be difficult to prove it, but I imagine that all those candles are an encouragement to the very kind of people who commit the massacres that are the occasion for the exhibition. We cut their throats, or drive trucks into them; they light candles…They are mistaken, the terrorists; but they are not clever or deep thinkers…
So if you want more terrorist attacks, light a candle.
A news service recently accused Katie Hopkins of a series of “mistruths”:
The mistruths referred to in the headline were false allegations rather than, say, factual errors concerning the number of legs centipedes may have or the climatic conditions in Porto Alegre. Why not say so, then? Why use [this] ugly, imprecise and evasive neologism?
We should not allow ourselves to misstep our way to mistruth, for that way lies misprobity, miswisdom and mishappiness.
A recent study in The British Journal of Psychiatry attempted to correlate depression, religion and terrorism, but Dalrymple found therein only boredom, redundancy and a certain terseness toward seemingly obvious conclusions, driven by – you guessed it – political correctness:
…do we really need an immense amount of research and statistical apparatus to tells us that “religion…may determine targets of violence following radicalization”? Would we have believed them if they had found to the contrary that “religion…cannot determine targets of violence following radicalization”? By the way, which religion are we talking about?
The whole subject is dealt with in so opaque a fashion that it is difficult not to believe that the authors feared retribution—from the politically correct if not from terrorists themselves. They are like those puppies that, being curious, approach a danger, but then retreat, approach again, and retreat again.
An NHS suggestion of delaying treatment for smokers and the overweight causes Dalrymple to comment on the impossibility – and the undesirability – of perfect justice:
That ethical decisions sometimes cannot be made that are indisputably correct, that entail no injustice or no inhumanity, is difficult for rationalists and utilitarians to accept. They want every division to be without remainder, as it were. They want a formula that will decide every question beyond reasonable doubt. They want a universal measure of suffering, so that the precise worth (in units of suffering averted) of every medical procedure can be known and compared…
There is a kind of cognitive hubris at play, according to which information alone will resolve all our dilemmas; and if our dilemmas have not been answered, it is only because we do not have enough information yet. The hope or expectation of a dilemma-free world is naïve, where it is not power-hungry.
In Taki’s Magazine Dalrymple expresses his shock at seeing his first post-election photo of a much older-looking Hillary Clinton:
I was surprised by my own feeling of sympathy for her, I who had previously detested her (quite without admiring Mr. Trump—very far from it) for her ruthless self-righteousness and self-righteous ruthlessness, with one eye always fixed on high moral principle and the other on the main chance, the latter always seeming to triumph over the former.
My sympathy did not, of course, go very deep or last very long. He who lives by ambition dies by ambition. If you make the achievement of power the meaning of your life and you are thwarted in it, some kind of collapse is only to be expected.
We have fallen somewhat behind again in posting Dalrymple’s work, and so this City Journal piece on the American presidential election, from before it occurred, may have been overtaken by events. But it is still interesting to hear the European perspective, whether with schadenfreude or disgust at the outcome, as the case may be.
There is no doubt that there is an underlying smugness about the European attitude to the American election. It couldn’t happen here: no serious politician of Trump’s crassness would reach his exalted level. Not only does such assurance forget our history, but it also disregards the subterranean discontents under the calm and well-ordered surface that could well one day erupt into something far worse than Trump’s clownish rodomontade. And our political class already shares Clinton’s invincible and ruthless self-righteousness. Being Hillary Clinton is like love: never having to say you’re sorry.
I was unaware of the absurd commitment Airbnb requires homeowners to sign:
You commit to treat everyone—regardless of race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or age—with respect, and without judgment or bias.
Dalrymple responds in Taki’s Magazine:
Does it mean that one is committed to welcoming necrophiliacs into one’s home, or people like Dennis Nilsen, who liked to watch television with the corpses of the people he had killed sitting next to him (before cutting them up and flushing them down the lavatory)?…Did the framers of this oleaginous “commitment” mean that the owners of accommodations should take no notice if their potential lodgers are satanists, or members of the Ku Klux Klan, or Black Panthers, or soldiers of ISIS?
In short, the ridiculous “commitment” is demanded not because it will do any good, but because it exhibits the virtue of those demanding it. Those who demur from such a commitment…will nonetheless find themselves condemned for bigotry.
I doubt anyone will be surprised at Dalrymple’s reaction to Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize for literature:
When I heard the announcement, I thought it was a spoof. I thought, “Why not award the Nobel Prize in Chemistry to a celebrity chef?” Poetry is made of words; Dylan wrote words. Food is made of chemicals; chefs mix chemicals.
…But I accept that tastes differ (though it must be remembered that humanity is more divided by taste than by anything else).
Apparently there are still people out there who care about the rock band Oasis and Liam Gallagher, so Gallagher was interviewed in the Sunday Times. In Taki’s Magazine Dalrymple offers this anecdote about his attendance at an Oasis concert in a journalistic role:
I asked the publicity staff for the Gallaghers whether they did not think it odd that they should hand out earplugs to reduce the volume of a musical act, which surely was something above all to be heard; but this was a world in which, while superficial defiance or insolence was de rigueur, irony was evidently in short supply.
Unsurprisingly, it turns out Gallagher is still the rude, self-centered jerk he has long been known as. But of most concern to Dalrymple is the following:
But by far the most depressing aspect of the interview is that The Sunday Times is directed at the upper 5 or 10 percent of the British population, by both education and income. Whether the editors have estimated the cultural interests of the readership correctly, I do not know; but if they have, the end of civilization, at least in Britain, is nigh.