It began on Tuesday in Woolwich, London, when two young men in a car deliberately ran over an off-duty British soldier who was walking to a nearby military installation, then “hacked and chopped” at his body and attempted to decapitate him as they shouted “Allah akbar!” They forced witnesses to film the scene, saying: “We swear by Almightly Allah we will never stop fighting you. The only reasons we have done this is because Muslims are dying every day.” When police arrived, the murderers “charged at them wielding firearms, knives and a machete.” They were apprehended alive, and are now in hospital. It has since emerged that one of them, a son of Nigerian immigrants, was born in Britain as Michael Olumide Adebolajo, converted to Islam in 2003, changed his name to Mujaahid (i.e., jihadist), and for several years attended meetings of the group Al-Muhajiroun, founded by terrorist preacher Omar Bakri Mohammed. Late Thursday afternoon, U.K. time, the murdered soldier was identified as 25-year-old Lee Rigby, a drummer in the 2nd Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers and the father of a two-year-old son.
Just like this week’s nightly riots by “youths” in Stockholm, the brutal slaughter in Woolwich was plainly a jihadist act. Yet just as the Swedish elites are continuing to dance around that uncomfortable core truth, their British counterparts are engaged in some fancy footwork of their own – led by Prime Minister David Cameron, who described Tuesday’s atrocity as “not just an attack on Britain and on the British way of life” but “also a betrayal of Islam and of the Muslim communities who give so much to our country.” (Does it need to be said that for a British leader to haul out this ragged, repulsive lie in the year 2013 is itself a betrayal – a shameless, craven betrayal of precisely what Cameron pretends to be standing up for, namely “Britain and…the British way of life”?)
The papers were full of the standard-issue stuff. The Muslim Council of Britain made the usual assertion that the latest heinous act committed in the name of Islam had “nothing to do with Islam.” Baroness Warsi, a Pakistani-English Muslim who serves as “Communities Secretary” in the current government, painted the familiar pretty picture of “faith communities coming out together” in the wake of said heinous act “and showing a unified condemnation of this.” The Guardian ran the obligatory hand-wringing article about the “fear of backlash” against Muslims in the wake of the heinous act in question. (The headline of another Guardian article actually indicated that there had been “Anti-Muslim reprisals after Woolwich attack”; it turned out that one man was “in custody on suspicion of attempted arson after reportedly walking into a mosque with a knife in Braintree, Essex,” and that “police in Kent were called to reports of criminal damage at a mosque in Canterbury Street, Gillingham.”) And Ken Livingstone, the loathsome ex-mayor of London (which he described as “the most successful melting pot in the history of the world and the city of the free”), warned those less evolved than himself not to “scapegoat entire communities for this barbaric act.” This from the sometime host, defender, and chum of Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who is famous precisely for encouraging such barbaric acts.
Newspaper commentaries on the atrocity added up to a depressing profile of the pathetic, obstinately reality-challenged psychopathology of the British elite when confronted with Islamic violence. The prize for sheer inanity of approach must go to Laborite Dan Hodges, who spent a whole column in the Telegraph elaborating on the theme that “for me, yesterday’s barbaric act of terror in Woolwich was literally senseless. None of what happened actually made any sense.” The murder, he asserted, was “confusing, horrific, bizarre.” He proceeded to repeat this refrain in one paragraph after another: “none of it made sense….Still none of it made sense….It didn’t make sense….It didn’t make any sense….Yesterday was the senseless day.” Reading this feeble, embarrassing nonsense, one could not help wondering: was Hodges equally stumped by 9/11, 7/7, Madrid, Bali, Beslan, the Boston bombings? One of the things that didn’t “make sense” to Hodges was that one of the murderers spoke of “our lands,” meaning the Muslim world, even though “he had a south-east London accent.” It was as if the Woolwich killers were the first “home-grown terrorists” to ever come to Hodges’s attention. How remarkable that during all these years when the non-Muslim world has been racked by one death-dealing jihadist assault after another, Hodges’s contemplation of these incidents has apparently yielded absolutely nothing in the way of awareness or insight.
Brendan O’Neill, also writing in the Telegraph, was also purportedly baffled beyond all hope by Tuesday’s events, professing to find it “shocking” and “bizarre” (that word again) that one of the terrorists “claimed to be acting on behalf of all Muslims,” speaking “as if he were a representative of the ummah.” Again, one would have thought that this was the very first time such a thing has ever happened. “How can a couple of men,” O’Neill asked, “so thoroughly convince themselves that they speak for all Muslims, to the extent that they seriously believe their savage and psychotic attack on a man in the street is some kind of glorious act of Islamic resistance?” Unlike Hodges, however, O’Neill had a theory. A certain kind of thinking, he posited, had led directly to the Woolwich atrocity. Jihadist ideology? Nope: contemporary British identity politics. You see, “in this era in which any old fool can claim to be a ‘community spokesperson’, and can be treated seriously as such, these murderous loners seem to be trying a psychotic version of the same trick – claiming that by dint of shared skin colour or common religious sentiment they have the authority to speak on behalf of millions of people they have never met or whose lands they have never visited.” Somehow, O’Neill would appear to have missed the news that it’s not only in Merrie Old England that jihadists have proudly proclaimed themselves to be jihadists.
Some observers emphasized that it was crucial to “keep calm.” Writing in the Independent, sociologist Frank Furedi urged Brits not to “over-react” – and, moreover, not to “redefine” this “incomprehensible act of violence” (yes, he was mystified too) as “an act of political terrorism.” If O’Neill saw the two killers as products of British identity politics, Furedi, calling it “unlikely” that they had “been busy reading al-Qaeda’s terror manual,” cast them instead as products of “reality entertainment” culture, noting their decision to record their monstrous actions on camera. “The murderers may have adopted the role of idealist jihadists as one of them chanted ‘We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you,’” wrote Furedi, “but what they really meant was that we will never stop performing.” Furedi’s advice to his readers: don’t give “recognition to two self-obsessed killers who did not deserve it.”
Michael White made a similar argument under the headline “Woolwich attack: let’s try a bit of keeping calm.” Hey, here’s a thought: could it be, just possibly, that official Britain has been too damn calm for too damn long? How about finally getting a little angry? Just to begin with, how about reforming the insane immigration and deportation policies that have made London a sanctuary for some of the most contemptible preachers of Islamic terror on the planet? How about cutting out all the smooth lies, the slick euphemisms, the talk of “Asians” when the subject is really Muslims? How about somebody in a position of authority screwing up a little courage and facing a few facts – and thereby maybe, just maybe, causing Churchill to stop spinning in his grave?
White had a lot to say. Protesting that the publication of photos of the Woolwich perpetrators’ “rusty knives and meat cleavers” was “indecent” and “voyeuristic,” he proposed that today’s Brits adopt the “Keep Calm and Carry On” attitude of their World War II-era forebears – in other words, turn away from the gruesome images and don’t exaggerate the importance of these evildoers (who might just as easily have been members of some street gang unrelated to Islam rather than “ill-educated and unemployed young men…who have been watching jihadi video nasties on the internet”). Suggesting that the Woolwich killers are “lone wolfs” (sic) whose acts have no wider meaning or organizational backing, he maintained that “the only visibly organised conspiracy” in the picture is the English Defence League (that tacky pack of unspeakable rowdies). He went on to insist that, in any event, ordinary street gangs are “a greater problem for life in our big cities than wannabe jihadis.” And he found it appropriate to add that British soldiers of the non-Islamic persuasion are, after all, sometimes “attacked” or “even occasionally murdered” by “their drunken co-religionists.” So why make a fuss about the Islamic roots of this unfortunate affair? (For good measure, White worked in a passing reference to the nightly riots in Stockholm by “the unemployed.”)
What artful dodgers! The lesson was clear: with very few exceptions, the British elite is terrified to call jihad by its rightful name. It would rather condemn the English Defence League for the thousandth time than choke out even the most muted, gracefully nuanced acknowledgment that there might, in fact, be something of a causal connection between the instructions to the faithful spelled out in the Koran and the actions carried out in Woolwich on Tuesday afternoon. Yet it’s precisely that elite’s dishonest, irresponsible, lily-livered response to abominable transgressions like this one that is driving more and more people into the arms of the EDL. For while Cameron, Livingstone, and company were responding to the Woolwich killing by defending Islam, feigning perplexity, and/or dismissing the idea that this murder had any larger significance, EDL leader Tommy Robinson was speaking the plain and simple truth, accusing the country’s leaders of being “scared to say the word Muslim” and flatly rejecting the fatuous falsehoods about Islam that are proferred in Britain’s classrooms and endlessly reiterated in its media. Said Robinson on Tuesday: “Our next generation are being taught through schools that Islam is a religion of peace. It’s not. It never has been. What you saw today is Islam.”
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