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Tag: terrorism

Symphony of Sorrow and solidarity for Paris

Saturday, 14 November, 2015 0 Comments

When he was composing his Third Symphony (the Symphony of Sorrowful Songs), Henryk Górecki sought inspiration in a variety of texts. Foremost was an inscription scrawled on a cell wall of a Gestapo prison in Zakopane at the foot of the Tatra mountains. The words were those of 18-year-old Helena Wanda Błażusiakówna: O Mamo nie płacz nie — Niebios Przeczysta Królowo Ty zawsze wspieraj mnie (“Oh Mamma do not cry — Immaculate Queen of Heaven support me always”). He also read Psalm 93/94 in the 16th-century translation by Jakub Wujek: “They humiliated Your people, O Lord, and afflicted Your heritage, they killed the widow and the passer-by, murdered the orphans.”

Henryk Górecki survived two of the most vile ideologies in history: Communism and Nazism. We are now challenged by Islamism, a reincarnation of their combined evil. The followers of the new wickedness, like their 20th-century predecessors, do not shy from murdering the orphans, killing the widow and the passer-by, afflicting heritage and humiliating people. The words of Helena Wanda Błażusiakówna and the music of Henryk Górecki offer comfort at this time of suffering and sorrow and solidarity.


Kofi Awoonor, victim of Islamism

Thursday, 3 October, 2013 0 Comments

There’s a page on Wikipedia that lists “mortalities from battles and other individual military operations or acts of violence, sorted by death toll.” When it comes to the section titled “Terrorist attacks,” we can see that eight of the top 10 life-destroying atrocities are attributed to “Islamism”. With 67 victims, the 21 September massacre in the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi doesn’t make the top 100, but it is attributed to “Islamism” and among the victims was Kofi Awoonor, the Ghanaian poet and author who was attending a literary festival in Kenya at the time. These lines from his Songs of Sorrow are tragically prescient:

I have wandered on the wilderness
The great wilderness men call life
The rain has beaten me,
And the sharp stumps cut as keen as knives
I shall go beyond and rest.
I have no kin and no brother,
Death has made war upon our house;

When death, in the form of Islamism, made war upon the house of civilization in Nairobi and claimed the lives of children, women and an old poet from Ghana, the liberal elite could not bear to call out the culprit. The perpetrators cannot be called “terrorists”; we must use “militant” instead and rather than blame their religious perversion, the absurd Simon Jenkins writing in the Guardian claimed that shopping malls are responsible for their murderous hatred:

“The modern urban obsession with celebrity buildings and high-profile events offers too many publicity-rich targets. A World Trade Centre, a Mumbai hotel, a Boston marathon, a Nairobi shopping mall are all enticing to extremists. Defending them is near impossible. Better at least not to create them. A shopping mall not only wipes out shopping streets, it makes a perfect terrorist fortress, near impossible to assault.”

Followers of Islam must finally confront and denounce the extremists who kill in the name of Allah. Until that happens, innocents will continue to suffer. Blaming shopping malls, hotels and marathons for the actions of the jihadists offers a cowardly fig leaf for terrorism and insults the memory of Kofi Awoonor, who once wrote: “On such a day who would dare think of dying? So much Freedom means that we swear we’ll postpone dying until the morning after.”


The Unknown Known

Saturday, 7 September, 2013 0 Comments

“There are known knowns; there are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns; that is to say, there are things that we now know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns — there are things we do not know we don’t know.” Donald Rumsfeld, former US Secretary Of Defense, speaking at a press briefing in February 2002 about weapons of mass destruction, terrorism and Iraq.

The great American documentary film maker, Errol Morris, picked Donald Rumsfeld as the subject for his latest work, The Unknown Known. In an interview with The Daily Beast, Morris revealed how the film came to be made.

The Daily Beast: How the hell did you get Rumsfeld to agree to do this? Were you chasing him down?

Errol Morris: No, not at all. I wrote him a letter, enclosed a copy of The Fog of War, heard back from him very quickly, went to Washington, and spent a good part of the day with him. We started it under the premise that he would do two days of interviews, I would edit it, and if he liked it, we’d sign a contract and continue. If he didn’t, I’d put the footage in a closet and it would never see the light of day.