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Terror

Is Margaret Atwood a bad feminist?

Monday, 15 January, 2018 0 Comments

Margaret Atwood, the celebrated author of The Handmaid’s Tale and more than 40 books of poetry, fiction and essays, asks Am I A Bad Feminist? Money quote: “My fundamental position is that women are human beings, with the full range of saintly and demonic behaviours this entails, including criminal ones. They’re not angels, incapable of wrongdoing… Nor do I believe that women are children, incapable of agency or of making moral decisions. If they were, we’re back to the 19th century, and women should not own property, have credit cards, have access to higher education, control their own reproduction or vote.”

And note her comment on the current “guilty because accused” rampage which, she says, has its roots in the excesses of the French Revolution, Stalin’s purges in the USSR, the Red Guard period in China and the reign of the Generals in Argentina:

“Such things are always done in the name of ushering in a better world. Sometimes they do usher one in, for a time anyway. Sometimes they are used as an excuse for new forms of oppression. As for vigilante justice — condemnation without a trial — it begins as a response to a lack of justice — either the system is corrupt, as in prerevolutionary France, or there isn’t one, as in the Wild West — so people take things into their own hands. But understandable and temporary vigilante justice can morph into a culturally solidified lynch-mob habit, in which the available mode of justice is thrown out the window, and extralegal power structures are put into place and maintained. The Cosa Nostra, for instance, began as a resistance to political tyranny.”

It will take brave people to fight the new Cosa Nostra.


Musings upon the murderous Gerry Adams

Thursday, 23 November, 2017 0 Comments

“The first person the IRA murdered after Gerry Adams was elected Sinn Féin president was Charles Armstrong, the Ulster Unionist chair of Armagh City and District Council.”

Now, there’s an opening sentence that earns its keep. The writer is Newton Emerson and his Irish Times piece is titled “Licensing next war is Adams’s real legacy.” Emerson expands that opening sentence thus:

Adams became president on Sunday, November 13th, 1983. The following evening, a bomb exploded under Armstrong’s car as he left a council meeting. An SDLP colleague, Pat Brannigan, risked his life by pulling Armstrong from the burning wreckage. Armstrong left a wife and eight children, who heard the explosion from their house a few hundred yards away. Afterwards, they received threats and hate mail and were forced to move. To the IRA supporter, every victim becomes culpable by the mere fact of their victimisation.

The barbarism Gerry Adams and his Sinn Féin/IRA “comrades” exhibited in killing Charles Armstrong was part of a pattern: “Three weeks after the Armagh bomb, the law lecturer and UUP assembly member Edgar Graham was murdered by the IRA — shot eight times in the back as he left the library at Queen’s University, Belfast. He had been considered a future liberal leader of the party.”

In Ireland and abroad, Gerry Adams is celebrated as a “freedom fighter” but he’s nothing of the sort. He’s a bloodstained monster.


Jackie Chan goes to war with the IRA

Tuesday, 27 June, 2017 0 Comments

The Foreigner is an upcoming British-Chinese thriller starring Jackie Chan, Pierce Brosnan, Liu Tao and Katie Leung. In the film, Chan plays the role of a humble restaurant owner in London’s Chinatown who’s on a mission to track down the Irish terrorists responsible for the death of his beloved daughter. Chan is forced to push his physical and psychological boundaries beyond the limits to find and bring to justice the shadowy Foreigner (Pierce Brosnan) coordinating the IRA terror campaign. Any resemblance between Pierce Brosnan and Gerry Adams is coincidental, of course, but between now and October, when the film is released, much will be written about Adams, allegedly a member of the IRA Army Council and thus responsible for atrocities such as the La Mon restaurant bombing in 1978.

The Foreigner

Directed by Martin Campbell and produced by STX Entertainment, the film is based on Stephen Leather’s novel The Chinaman. Leather wrote the book while working as night news editor on the business desk of The Times in London. At the time, the Provisional IRA terror campaign was at its height, and the book is loosely based on the IRA bombing in 1983 of the Harrods department store in London.


We kill, you light candles

Wednesday, 7 June, 2017 0 Comments

We now live in a state of what a Dutch friend of Theodore Dalrymple’s calls “creative appeasement.” This, Dalrymple argues, gives terrorists the impression of a fragility that is easy to break. “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.”

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Dalrymple address the powerlessness of our leaders in a piece titled Terror and the Teddy Bear Society. Snippet:

“Another source of comfort for terrorists is that after every new atrocity, the police are able to arrest multiple suspected accomplices. That suggests the police knew the attackers’ identities in advance but did nothing — in other words, that most of the time terrorists can act with impunity even if known. Here, then, is further evidence of a society that will not defend itself seriously. This is not just a British problem. The April murder of a policeman on the Champs Elysées in Paris was committed by a man who had already tried to kill three policemen, who was known to have become fanaticized, and who was found with vicious weapons in his home. The authorities waited patiently until he struck.”

The lambs, and the teddy bears, are now at the mercy of the wolves, lone and in packs.


Remembering the dead of Manchester

Wednesday, 24 May, 2017 0 Comments

Time upon time since 9/11 we have been forced to confront the face of evil. Like it or not, there are evil people in this world and one of the worst of them, Salman Ramadan Abedi, choose a concert in Manchester to attack three essential facets of modernity — entertainment, independence and enjoyment.

It should not surprise us that this mass murderer adheres to an ideology that hates Western civilization with its traditions of freedom, inquiry and democracy. In his world, cruelty is celebrated, women are enslaved and there is nothing but contempt for the tolerance that tolerates its enemies. After each massacre, we repeat our plea to the leaders of the West that they must impress on the monsters who nurture terrorists like Salman Ramadan Abedi that they will not be negotiated with; rather, they will be destroyed.

To be sure, the UK, the object of so much hatred and envy, is not a perfect society, but for all its faults many of the innocents murdered on Monday night in Manchester were from families who had made their home in Britain because it offered them opportunity and freedom. Let us not forget that when we remember the dead today.

Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine,
Et lux perpetua luceat eis

Grant them eternal rest, O Lord,
And may perpetual light shine upon them.


Waugh on travel and terror

Friday, 24 March, 2017 1 Comment

“I See Nothing But Boredom… Everywhere” was the ominous title of a piece by Evelyn Waugh that appeared in the Daily Mail on 28 December 1959. The future of travel was the great man’s theme. Like all newspaper prophesy, it was ignored as soon as it was read, and because Waugh was extremely contrary, his predictions were dismissed as the bitter reproaches of an ageing man (he died in 1966). A rereading, however, shows that he had imagined our future with incredible prescience and was rightly appalled by the vista.

He said: “One went abroad to observe other ways of living, to eat unfamiliar foods and see strange buildings,” but in the future, he foretold, the world would be divided, on the one hand, into “zones of insecurity” dominated by terrorism and, on the other, vulgar tourist traps consisting of “chain hotels, hygienic, costly, and second rate,” to which people would be transported by the uniform jet. Well, we’ve got the terror now, we’ve all stayed in ghastly, modern hotels and air travel began its journey towards industrial conformity and security nightmare some while ago.

Today’s increasingly uncomfortable, stressful, fearful flying experience stands in remarkable contrast to what was once charming and civilized. On a flight in the 1930s, the great traveller and writer Paul Bowles observed: “I had my own cabin with a bed in it, and under sheet and blankets I slept during most of the flight.”

What to do about our dystopia? Stop travelling altogether is one option. Preferable, though, is to document and publish the horrors in the hope that the travel business can be brought to its senses and the good fight against terror will be won.


Indiscriminate wickedness in London

Thursday, 23 March, 2017 0 Comments

The sheer evil of fanatics like the one responsible for yesterday’s terror attack in London is incredible. The crowded places they pick and the massive suffering they inflict suggest a mindset that’s beyond comprehension, but in an attempt to learn something, anything, about their strategies, this blogger turned to The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror by Bernhard Lewis, which was published in 2003. He writes:

“For the new-style terrorists, the slaughter of innocent and uninvolved civilians is not ‘collateral damage’. It is the prime objective. Thanks to the rapid development of the media, and especially of television, the more recent forms of terrorism are aimed not at specific and limited enemy objectives but at world opinion. Their primary purpose is not to defeat or even to weaken the enemy militarily but to gain publicity and to inspire fear — a psychological victory…”

Concerning the willingness of the perpetrators to kill and maim the innocent and the ruthlessness with which they execute their missions, Lewis asks if any of these actions can be justified in terms of Islam. The answer is a clear no, and he adds:

“The callous destruction of thousands in the World Trade Center, including many who were not American, some of them Muslims from Muslim countries, has no justification in Islamic doctrine or law and no precedent in Islamic history. Indeed, there are few acts of comparable deliberate and indiscriminate wickedness in human history. These are not just crimes against humanity and against civilization; they are also acts — from a Muslim point of view — of blasphemy when those who perpetrate such crimes claim to be doing so in the name of God, His Prophet, and His Scriptures.”

After the 9/11 massacre in New York, the response in the Arab press was, to quote Lewis, “an uneasy balance between denial and approval”. Let’s hope that the responses to yesterday’s outrage will be clear in their condemnation of this “indiscriminate wickedness”, this “blasphemy” and these ongoing “crimes against humanity”.

Bernard Lewis


The axis of cyber evil

Thursday, 15 September, 2016 0 Comments

On Monday, Ciaran Martin, the Director-General Cyber at GCHQ, outlined the British approach to cyber security at the Billington Cyber Security Summit in Washington DC. Very topically, he addressed email. Snippet:

“We need to make sure UK Government email is trusted, so we need to stop people spoofing our .gov.uk domain. To do that we’ve set a DMARC policy as a trial to stop emails from the wrong IP sets, or with the wrong key, from being delivered purporting to come from .gov.uk. Well they do get delivered, but they get delivered to us, not the recipient — usually members of the public. And when we first trialled it, whoever was sending 58,000 malicious emails per day from the delightfully named [email protected] isn’t doing it anymore.”

In an increasingly digitized economy, security is a critical currency. When Colin Powell wakes up and finds his hacked emails on the front pages of global media outlets, overall confidence in cyber security is greatly diminished and while his comments on Clinton and Trump might make for great merriment, we should condemn these intrusions because the cyber bell may toll for us one day, too. Just as it has done for the tennis stars Serena and Venus Williams, the gymnast Simone Biles, and the Tour de France winning cyclists Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins. Because when Ciaran Martin was speaking, the World Anti-Doping Agency was confirming that a Russian cyber espionage group known as Fancy Bear had accessed its Anti-Doping Administration and Management System database. The stolen information is now being broadcast 24/7.

People, businesses and institutions will be reluctant to share information in a digital environment they feel is fundamentally unsafe, and Ciaran Martin accepted this when he said that the internet may have transformed the way we live, “but it hasn’t completely changed our nature fostered over thousands of years. And nor are the groups who pose us harm particularly new.” They are stealing secrets, stealing money, stealing intellectual property, and they are pumping out propaganda that’s crafted to confuse and intimidate. Without naming Russia, China and North Korea specifically, he said:

We’ve got hostile states. Some of them are great powers, using cyber attacks to spy, gain major commercial and economic advantage or to pre-position for destructive attack. Others are smaller states, looking to exploit the relatively immature rules of the road in cyberspace to tweak the nose of those they see as bigger powers in a way they would and could never contemplate by traditional military means.”

Tomorrow, here, we’ll name the most hostile of these states.


Evil is neither awful nor tragic. It is the enemy.

Tuesday, 26 July, 2016 0 Comments

Another day, another dreadful deed: Nineteen residents at a Japanese care centre for people with mental disabilities killed in a knife attack. Police have arrested a former employee. He is reported to have said he wanted people with disabilities “to disappear.”

The number 19 was central to another report, one equally dreadful, which went under-reported at the time, perhaps because the source was the Iranian Shia Ahlolbayt News Agency. “ISIS burns 19 Yezidi girls to death in Mosul” was the headline. After reading it, William Dalrymple, the English writer and historian tweeted yesterday, “This is so awful and tragic.” His choice of words was criticized by some who felt that “awful and tragic” were timid synonyms for such a monstrous crime.

Quite simply, “awful and tragic” do not cut it when we’re talking about deeds that “constitute a direct negation of human liberty, and vent an undisguised hatred and contempt for life itself.” So said the late Christopher Hitchens in The Enemy, his meditation on the death of Osama bin Laden.

According to Hitchens, “this force”, the one we have seen at work recently in Sagamihara, Ansbach, Nice, Mosul, Orlando, Brussels, Paris… “absolutely deserves to be called evil.” Here’s the full quote:

“I thought then, and I think now, that Osama bin Laden was a near-flawless personification of the mentality of a real force: the force of Islamic jihad. And I also thought, and think now, that this force absolutely deserves to be called evil, and that the recent decapitation of its most notorious demagogue and organizer is to be welcomed without reserve. Osama bin Laden’s writings and actions constitute a direct negation of human liberty, and vent an undisguised hatred and contempt for life itself.” — Christopher Hitchens, The Enemy

UPDATE: In Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, two IS adherents murder Fr Jacques Hamel, 84, by slitting his throat while he was saying Mass. Evil is now ascendant in Europe.


The barbarity of Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel

Friday, 15 July, 2016 0 Comments

The terrorist responsible for murdering up to 84 people by driving a truck into a Bastille Day celebration in Nice has been identified as Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, a delivery driver and petty criminal. How do we respond to such barbarity? With more useless hashtags? Ineffective cartoons? Meaningless interdenominational prayer ceremonies? Hollow declarations of “je suis Nizza”? Hand-wringing gestures by political leaders? We’ve had lots of those in the past but they made little impression on Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel. Maybe we should consider the words of J.R.R. Tolkien:

“War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.” — The Two Towers


Marshall McLuhan: today’s media and today’s terror

Wednesday, 15 June, 2016 1 Comment

After Larossi Abballa had killed a French police officer and his partner near Paris on Monday evening, he posted a 12-minute video from the scene to Facebook Live. Speaking in a mix of French and Arabic, he smiled evilly as he urged his viewers to target the police, declared that the Euro 2016 football tournament would “be like a cemetery,” and pondered what to do about the dead couple’s three-year-old son.

“When people get close together they get more savagely impatient with each other,” said Marshall McLuhan in a television interview in 1977. Anticipating the arrival of Facebook Live, he accurately predicted the downsides of social media platforms: “Village people aren’t that much in love with each other, and the global village is a place of very arduous interfaces and very abrasive situations.”

With France in despair and the European Union in disarray, McLuhan foresaw the current rage, the hooliganism and the hatred of the elites: “All forms of violence are a quest for identity… Identity is always accompanied by violence… Ordinary people find the need for violence as they lose their identities, so it’s only the threat to people’s identity that makes them violent.”

McLuhan also anticipated that the likes of Larossi Abballa would use social media to broadcast their nihilism: “Terrorists, hijackers — these are people minus identity. They are determined to make it somehow, to get coverage, to get noticed.”

And in the same interview he predicted the current clash of civilizations: “The literate man can carry his liquor; the tribal man cannot. That’s why in the Moslem world and in the native world booze is impossible. However, literacy also makes us very accessible to ideas and propaganda. The literate man is the natural sucker for propaganda. You cannot propagandize a native. You can sell him rum and trinkets, but you cannot sell him ideas. Therefore, propaganda is our Achilles Heel, our weak point”

Note: Four hours after Larossi Abballa had made his statement on Facebook Live, French police stormed the house in Magnanville, and shot him dead. (The three-year-old boy was unharmed.)