Every day seems to bring news of another murderous attack by crazed psychopathic madmen. Not all madmen are Muslims, but it could be argued that all Muslims are mad. The inner Dawkins in me might go even further and posit the theory that extreme religiosity is a form of insanity.
Anyway, one theory doing the rounds is that the Jihadis who slit the throat of an elderly Catholic priest were psychopathic madmen. Muslims, yes, but above all, they were to be seen as psychopathic madmen, as if the two conditions were mutually exclusive, when of course the radicalised Muslim psychopath is both.
Radicalisation was a theme running through the Today Programme. Just before 7am we heard Sanchia Berg investigating the case of a girl who had gotten herself so radicalised that she tried to board a plane bound for Syria.
After that Chris Phillips, former Head of the National Counter Terrorism Security Office, discussed the UK’s security measures with Justin Webb. A little later in the programme the former editor of the Tablet, Austen Ivereigh and Father Christopher Jamison, director of the Roman catholic National Office for Vocation chatted to John Humphrys.
Finally Bernard Henri-Levy, the French philosopher and public intellectual
“tells John Humphrys that populations under attack from terrorism need to develop a kind of "sixth sense" of danger, accepting that an attack could happen at any time.”
in the words of the BBC preview:
Terrorists are "psychopaths and fascists" and so-called Islamic State "a monstrous magnet for the worst" says Bernard Henri-Levy.”
This chimes with my original hypothesis - sort of. The recurring themes here are madness, radicalisation and another one I haven’t yet mentioned.... Palestine.
The BBC is up for all of these. In fact we’re hearing quite a lot about radicalisation on the BBC recently.
Radicalize: to cause (someone) to become an advocate of radical political or social reform.
Social engineering, then, very like the BBC’s relentless campaign to sanitise and normalise Islam while continually vilifying Israel. Perhaps fearing social disintegration, the BBC sees its role as separating and distancing ‘ordinary Muslims’ from the perverted and twisted version of Islam as practiced by so-called Islamic State.
If the BBC hadn’t spent much of the last 60 years propagating the Palestinian narrative - a term I’m loath to use, but it serves the purpose here - and demonising Jews and Israel, maybe there would be more shame attached to admitting you’ve succumbed to ‘radicalisation’. As it is, people who admit that they’ve been ‘radicalised’ seem immensely proud to be able to offer ‘Palestine’ as justification for their hatred of the West.
Their empathy with Palestinians is taken as a virtue, which they are confident will go down well. Which it will; thanks to the BBC, hatred of Israel is understandable, and it’s only a short step to justifying violence by Muslims against Israelis.
The NSPCC has weighed in to the radicalisation problem by setting up a special helpline to advise parents whose children might have become radicalised’.
Sanchia Berg reports on one very extreme case of a girl who was so radicalsied that she boarded a plane to Syria. Her rare refections give an insight into how this process can work. Brutalised by violent images, drawn into long intense discussion on the internet and twitter, she determined to run away.
The results of the BBC’s own nasty little pocket of radicalisation can be heard here:
“I saw so much violence that it seemed to lose its effect. Everything merged into one. I can’t believe I’m saying that now.”
“I’ve already stated that my primary reason to go to Syria was to join an Islamic state, albeit sooner than I had imagined. I believed that this was the best way for me to be a good Muslim. I believed that the West was responsible for the suffering of Muslims, particularly in Gaza, where innocent people - specially children - were being bombed and killed.
The UK was implicated in supplying arms. I felt a traitor living in the West.”
Sanchia Berg explains:
The parents were devout Muslims and had strong views, especially about Palestine. The judge found the father had shared inappropriate images with his children. He found that the parents were naive, not to blame for the radicalisation, they had not restricted their daughter’s access to the internet.
Here is some of the conversation between John Humphrys and Austen Ivereigh, author of The Great Reformer, a biography of Pope Francis, and former editor of The Tablet, and Father Christopher Jamison is director of the Roman Catholic National Office for Vocation.
What can we do?
CJ: Open doors of Mercy.
JH: Doesn’t work with psychopathic murderers, does it? Austen Ivereigh what do you think?
AI:The only response that the church can have now is to underline the fact that it remains open. That it’s not going to start adopting armed guards and armed(sic)plate doors because that would undermine the very nature of what the church is and what priesthood is.
I mean anybody can walk in to attend mass and kill the priest, that’s just a fact, and I think most priests understand that. In Pope Francis’s response and the Bishops of France’s response, they’re actually going the other way, they’re saying this is precisely not the time to start shutting out immigrants, this is not the time to talk about protecting us, defending ourselves.
It’s exactly what I.S. wants. Islamic State sees the world in terms of religions attacking each other, conquering each other. That’s not true religion, that’s false religion and we have to say, and the church leaders are very careful to say that real religion is - well very interesting that Pope Francis described the attack through his spokesman yesterday as an act of absurd violence. There is no legitimation (sic) in other words it’s just like a mad man with a knife who has psychiatric problems knifing a priest on the doorstep, there is very little difference.”
JH: You do take steps to protect your property, for instance. people can’t just walk in and steal what ever they want..............But there are one or two synagogues, for instance, who take the opposite view, and who have armed, well, soldiers standing outside their premises and standing outside the building.
AI: I think synagogues are in a very particular position because they’re in the front line in the Middle East, incidentally, so are Catholic churches in Iraq and Syria,
JH: But in a way everybody’s in the front line..
AI: Well exactly and that’s the point. Look, a priest was killed yesterday in an appalling tragedy, which has deeply shocked us all, but 235 people have been killed in ISIS-related attacks in France in the last couple of years. You know, a priest dying is an appalling tragedy because of what he represents and of course because it’s a human life just like all those other human lives, but we have to weep and mourn for all those lives equally.”
There are so many other disparities between the way the BBC treats Israel and the way the BBC treats everywhere else. There is little interest in, let alone outrage at the knifings and car-rammings against civilians if they take place in Israel. Yet Israel’s military response, after months and years of provocation is universally condemned.
Well, it would be, as the BBC doesn’t report anything - as they say - ‘till Israel strikes back’.
The BBC obviously detests Israel. They condemn Israel for protecting its civilians, they overlook the psychopathic behaviour of Hamas and the pathological dishonesty of Mahmoud Abbas, and then, while manipulating public opinion and deliberately whipping up indignation on behalf of the Palestinians, (which amounts to a form of radicalisation) they claim they ‘don’t understand’ how people are radicalised.
These are the words of Matti Friedman from 2014. (H/T UK Media Watch)
The lasting importance of this summer’s war, I believe, doesn’t lie in the war itself. It lies instead in the way the war has been described and responded to abroad, and the way this has laid bare the resurgence of an old, twisted pattern of thought and its migration from the margins to the mainstream of Western discourse—namely, a hostile obsession with Jews.
The key to understanding this resurgence is not to be found among jihadi webmasters, basement conspiracy theorists, or radical activists. It is instead to be found first among the educated and respectable people who populate the international news industry; decent people, many of them, and some of them my former colleagues.
While global mania about Israeli actions has come to be taken for granted, it is actually the result of decisions made by individual human beings in positions of responsibility—in this case, journalists and editors. The world is not responding to events in this country, but rather to the description of these events by news organizations. The key to understanding the strange nature of the response is thus to be found in the practice of journalism, and specifically in a severe malfunction that is occurring in that profession—my profession—here in Israel.
A reporter working in the international press corps here understands quickly that what is important in the Israel-Palestinian story is Israel. If you follow mainstream coverage, you will find nearly no real analysis of Palestinian society or ideologies, profiles of armed Palestinian groups, or investigation of Palestinian government. Palestinians are not taken seriously as agents of their own fate. The West has decided that Palestinians should want a state alongside Israel, so that opinion is attributed to them as fact, though anyone who has spent time with actual Palestinians understands that things are (understandably, in my opinion) more complicated. Who they are and what they want is not important: The story mandates that they exist as passive victims of the party that matters.[...]
The Hamas charter, for example, calls not just for Israel’s destruction but for the murder of Jews and blames Jews for engineering the French and Russian revolutions and both world wars; the charter was never mentioned in print when I was at the AP, though Hamas won a Palestinian national election and had become one of the region’s most important players.
A knowledgeable observer of the Middle East cannot avoid the impression that the region is a volcano and that the lava is radical Islam, an ideology whose various incarnations are now shaping this part of the world. Israel is a tiny village on the slopes of the volcano. Hamas is the local representative of radical Islam and is openly dedicated to the eradication of the Jewish minority enclave in Israel, just as Hezbollah is the dominant representative of radical Islam in Lebanon, the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and so forth.
Hamas is not, as it freely admits, party to the effort to create a Palestinian state alongside Israel. It has different goals about which it is quite open and that are similar to those of the groups listed above. Since the mid 1990s, more than any other player, Hamas has destroyed the Israeli left, swayed moderate Israelis against territorial withdrawals, and buried the chances of a two-state compromise. That’s one accurate way to frame the story.
I apologise for stealing such a large chunk of Matti Friedman’s prose, but I think it helps me make my point.
The Today Programme turned to the French philosopher and public intellectual Bernard Henri-Levy who told John Humphrys that populations under attack from terrorism need to develop a kind of "sixth sense" of danger, accepting that an attack could happen at any time.
Henry-Levy says that terrorists are "psychopaths and fascists" and so-called Islamic State "a monstrous magnet for the worst" He said the west should consider taking the precautions that Israel takes, as Israel deals with this kind of thing all the time.
I could tell, with my ‘sixth sense’ that listeners would be thinking: “But Israel deserves terrorism - why if we’d been subjected to an illegal occupation, illegal settlements, oppression and colonisation of “our land’ by Jews, why we, too might believe we had no option but to don suicide vests.”
Cherie Blair said something of the sort once.
French politicians have been criticised for saying that “we” must get used to terrorism. It’s now a fact of life, but we mustn’t alter our behaviour or change our way of life. That’s what the terrorists want”
How do they know that’s what the terrorists want? I would think the exact opposite is the case. The Islamists are quite clear. They want Islam, exclusively, world-wide, which they will achieve all the more swiftly if we stubbornly insist on the freedom to remain sitting ducks.
Yes, they might want us to be afraid, and it might irritate them if we pretend we’re not, but changing our way of life is what they absolutely do not want. They certainly wouldn’t want us to emulate the Israelis, protecting our citizens, as Israel has been forced to do, by taking the kind of precautions that impinge upon the freedoms we used to enjoy. Surveillance, monitoring, profiling, checkpoints, searches, all the things that thwart psychopaths and mad murderous Muslims.
No-one, most of all the Israelis really want (or wanted) to have to go down that road, but they had to and so might we.