Terrorism and Nuance 934


There is no question to which the answer is to wander round killing people. It takes a few words or keystrokes for any right thinking person to condemn the killings in Paris today. But that really doesn’t take us very far.

It is impossible to stop evil from happening. Simple low tech attacks by individuals, a kind of DIY terrorism, cannot always be pre-empted. If you try to do so universally, you will end up even further down the line we have gone down in the UK, where people are continually arrested and harassed who have no connection to terrorism at all, often for bragging on websites. These non-existent foiled terrorist plots are a risible feature of British politics nowadays. Every now and then one hits the headlines, like the arrests just before Remembrance Day. Their defining characteristic is that none of those arrested have any means of terrorism – 99% of those arrested for terrorism in the UK in the last decade – possessed no weapon and no viable explosive device.

In fact the only terrorist in the last year convicted in the UK, who possessed an actual bomb – a very viable explosive device indeed, was not charged with terrorism. He was a fascist named Ryan McGee who had a swastika on his wall and hated Muslims. Hundreds of Muslims with no weapons are locked up for terrorism. A fanatical anti-Muslim with a bomb is by definition not a terrorist.

I am assuming that the narrative that Charlie Hebdo was attacked by Islamists is correct, though that remains to be proved. For argument, let us assume the official narrative is true and the killings were by Muslims outraged at the magazine’s depictions of the Prophet Mohammed.

It is essential to free speech that it includes the freedom to offend. That must include the freedom to offend religious belief. Without such freedoms, the values of societies would freeze. Much social progress has caused real anguish and offence to some people. To have stopped Charlie Hebdo by law would have been wrong. To stop them by bullets is beyond any mitigation.

But that doesn’t make the unfortunate deceased heroes, and President Hollande was wrong to characterise them as such. Being murdered does not make you a hero. And being offensive is not necessarily noble. People who are persistently and vociferously offensive are often neither noble nor well-motivated. Much of Charlie Hebdo‘s taunting of Muslims was really unpleasant. That they also had Christian and other targets did not make this any better. It is not Private Eye – it is a magazine with a much nastier edge. I defend the right of Charlie Hebdo to publish whatever it wants. But once the shock dies off, I do hope a more realistic assessment of whether Charlie Hebdo was entirely admirable or not may be possible. This in no way excuses the dreadful murders.

The ability to say things that offend is an important attribute of a free society. Richard Dawkins may offend believers. Peter Tatchell may offend homophobes. Pussy Riot offended Putin and the Orthodox Church. This must not be stopped.

But that must cut both ways. Abu Qatada broke no British laws in his lengthy stay in the UK, but was demonised for things he said (or even things newspapers invented he had said). Most of the French who are today in solidarity for freedom of expression, are against people being able to express themselves freely in what they wear. The security industry who are all over TV today want to respond to this attack on freedom of expression by more controls on the internet!

I condemn, you condemn, we all condemn, and so we should. But the amount of nuanced thought in the mainstream media is almost non-existent. What will now happen is that conservative commentators will rip individual phrases from this article and tweet them to show I support terrorism. The lack of nuanced thought is a reflection of a general atmosphere of anti-intellectualism which has poisoned public life in modern western society.


934 thoughts on “Terrorism and Nuance

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  • Ba'al Zevul

    More on Tony Blair’s visit to Egypt yesterday. It seems this was a meeting between al-Sisi, Blair, and the President of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald Lauder. No Palestinians appear to have been present. Ronald Lauder is not only close to Netanyahu, but finances him…

    http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2015/01/12/al-sisi-discusses-israeli-palestinian-conflict-tony-blair/

    There is, obviously, an energy dimension to all this:

    Lauder, who was re-elected as the WJC president in 2013, is known to be close to Israeli Prime Minister and Likud party leader Benjamin Netanyahu and is seen as one of his biggest donors and supporters, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

    A billionaire, according to Forbes, Lauder has investments in Israel and was a business partner of Israeli businessman Josef Maiman, who was a key figure in Egypt’s gas sales to Israel. The former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was charged with graft along with his petroleum minister regarding gas exports to Israel. However, the Cairo Criminal Court dropped all charges against Mubarak on 29 November.

    Egypt’s gas exports to Israel ended in 2012, as a result of both militant attacks on the gas pipeline in North Sinai and Israel’s discovery of large gas reserves within its territorial waters off the Mediterranean coast.

    Will the new Mubarak be re-establishing oil sales to Israel, aided by international fixer and tapeworm of the mighty, Tony? Watch this space. Will peace be declared as a result of this momentous meeting? You make your old master laugh.

  • Daniel

    “Rupert Murdoch demands an apology from 1.7 billion Muslim for being responsible for the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo and Kosher Grocery store.”

    Did Murdoch demand an apology from Christians for the actions of mass killer, Breivik?

    I suspect not.

  • Paul Barbara

    Of interest re Trolls, spammers and so forth:
    Is it ‘paranoid’ to suspect the State(s) of paying trolls? Well, how’s about this:
    ‘ Revealed: US spy operation that manipulates social media
    Exclusive: Military’s ‘sock puppet’ software creates fake online identities to spread pro-American propaganda
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/mar/17/us-spy-operation-soci al-networks
    Nick Fielding and Ian Cobain – guardian.co.uk, Thursday 17 March 2011 13.19 GMT
    General David Petraeus has said American efforts to spy on social media are aimed at ‘countering extremist ideology [Zionism perchance!] and propaganda and ensuring credible voices are heard’. Photograph: Cliff Owen/AP
    The US military is developing software that will let it secretly manipulate social media using fake online personas designed to influence internet conversations and spread pro-American propaganda.
    A Californian corporation has been awarded a contract with the US Central Command (Centcom) to develop what is described as an “online persona management service” that will allow one serviceman or woman to control up to 10 separate identities at once.
    The contract stipulates each persona must have a convincing background, history and supporting details, and that up to 50 controllers must be able to operate false identities from their workstations “without fear of being discovered by sophisticated adversaries”….’

  • nevermind

    Paul Barbara, are we safe to assume that those who never link and have only questions to lead us on with could be spybots?….;)
    sorry couldn’t resist, what lovely under-swell of naughtiness came over me there….

  • Mary

    More on the suicide of the French policeman.

    Police Commissioner Involved in Charlie Hebdo Investigation “Commits Suicide”. Total News Blackout
    By Prof Michel Chossudovsky
    Global Research, January 11, 2015
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/police-commissioner-involved-in-charlie-hebdo-investigation-commits-suicide-total-news-blackout/5424149

    ‘One isolated report in Le Parisien presents the act of suicide as being totally unrelated to the Charlie Hebdo investigation.

    While described as being depressive and suffering from a burnout, police reports state that Helric Fredou’s suicide was totally unexpected.

    Moreover, it is worth noting that, according to reports, he committed suicide in his workplace, in his office at the police station.

    Did he commit suicide? Was he incited to commit suicide?

    Or was he an “honest Cop” executed on orders of France’s judicial police?

    Has his report been released?

    These are issues for France’s journalists to address. It’s called investigative reporting. Or is it outright media censorship?’

    Always questions.

  • Je

    To be completely cynical for a moment (if not necessarily entirely sincerely):

    17 dead. Minute compared to the 10,000 times that number killed in Syria. But…

    Three million marchers half-a-day = about another 50 lives added to the cost. More people than turned out at the end of WW2.
    Massive continuing media coverage.
    An enourmous security bill – just for the demonstration.
    10,000 troops mobilised to protect Jewish schools etc. in future (but no mention of troops to protect Muslims who are *actually* being attacked in the backlash).
    International near panic.

    What a result! They MUST do it again! (I imagine they and similar groups will be thinking…)

  • Je

    And the cover of the latest edition of Charlie Hebdo depicts the Prophet Muhammad too! That’s another push for them.

  • Je

    Maybe they’ll all take the latest cover on the chin. Or maybe someone who’s absolutely nothing to do with Charlie Hebdo will get his poor head removed because… he’s French… and that’ll be enough connection for them.

    Someone who works for Medicine Sans Frontier or an organisation like that. It usually is.

  • Mary

    So funny.

    ‘The FT’s Middle East correspondent Borzou Daragahi commented: “Seems world leaders didn’t “lead” Charlie Hebdo marchers in Paris but conducted photo op on empty, guarded street.”

    Ian Bremmer, a US political scientist and founder of the Eurasia Group, said: “All those world leaders: Not exactly ‘at’ the Paris rallies.” Another US commentator, Gerry Hassan, called the leaders’ contribution “pseudo-solidarity”.’

    Paris march: TV wide shots reveal a different perspective on world leaders at largest demonstration in France’s history.
    Critics suggest images show dignitaries ‘didn’t lead march’ after all, but many still speak positively about display of global unity
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/paris-march-tv-wide-shots-reveal-a-different-perspective-on-world-leaders-at-largest-demonstration-in-frances-history-9972895.html

    No wonder we see them (our ‘leaders’) as completely lacking in honesty and credibility.

  • Paul Barbara

    Thanks, Mary. But does anyone know if that is the same street the main march used? If it was a ‘side street’, that would indeed be newsworthy, but I suspect it may just be that the main march was held up behind a police line, whilst the ‘VIP’s’ were put at the front. There does appear to be a line (probably police) at the back of the picture. I guess this problem has been sorted by people in France, and should surface before long.
    Police and march organisers here do much the same thing, keeping the ‘integrity’ of the march on the main march theme leaders (otherwise there would be all sorts of nutcases and ‘other agenda’ folk who would swarm to the front, getting the photo coverage (I know, I’ve tried it!!).
    An important point – we should take with the 3 million with a pinch of salt – just as THEY drastically underestimate our demos, THEY are extremely likely to drastically overestimate demos they agree with.

  • Paul Barbara

    Sure enough, the organisers of the march (who could be expected to tend to overestimate numbers) say ‘up to 1.6 million’!!):

    Unity rally for Paris shootings: live:
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/11329976/Paris-Charlie-Hebdo-attack-live.html

    ‘Organisers say up to 1.6m attended the march as well as more than 40 world leaders including British Prime Minister, David Cameron, as well as Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, and others’ – and that’s the Telegraph!!

  • Andy

    So far as I’m aware, only RT provided the image that revealed how far away the politicians were from the main march. The BBC cut from the huge crowd to the ’40’ without any clue it might not be together. This was just a photo op for tired old politicians with absolutely no credibility. They were also waving to empty balconies. What a farce.

  • Jemand

    Macky 12 Jan – 12:56 am : ‘Jemand; “To claim that I was inciting hatred of muslims, rather than Islam, is a cheap lie”’

    So you admit you were “inciting hatred”, but just againt Islam. The fact is that Muslims cannot be separated from Islam, they are born into, live for, and die for their religion; it being the most important factor & the sole reason why they believe they exist on Earth; for them Islam comes before everything, family, country or any man made law. So what do you think should be done with the 1.57 billion people who are Muslims ?”
    – – – – –

    Inciting hatred is what everyone does on this blog. Political ideologies, various personages, regimes, political parties… So what? Would you take exception to someone inciting hatred of Nazism? Or of the people who subscribe to Nazism? Would you object to me inciting hatred of Boko Haram or ISIS?

    You claim that muslims cannot be separated from Islam and i think you imply that it is a logical consequence that I am therefore inciting hatred towards them as well as their religion. Firstly, if we assume that muslims cannot be separated from Islam as you claim, despite the fact that some people manage to escape the claws of Islam, your implication is still false.

    Note that people cannot be separated from some diseases – malaria, for example. Should my inciting hatred for the disease of malaria be conflated with hating the afflicted person?

    I think that assumes that people should conflate the two and probably explains why so many sufferers of various illnesses like leprosy and AIDS were subjected to hatred. Of course, I suggested no such thing.

    You ask me what should be done with 1.57 billion muslims. May I start by asking you what should be done with those Africans who have contracted Ebola? Would helping them be out of the question?

    What should we do about those people who are caught in cults, like that of Jim Jones and his Jonestown? Or of Scientology?

    Well I think it is reasonable to first halt the spread of the infection, provide support to those who wish to be free of their illness and isolate those who wish to infect others. Is a vicious cult really much different to a pernicious disease or mental illness?

    Does any of that sound acceptable to you? Or do you believe that people who are held captive in cults should be regarded as willing participants?

  • Macky

    Jemand; “Inciting hatred is what everyone does on this blog. Political ideologies, various personages, regimes, political parties… So what? Would you take exception to someone inciting hatred of Nazism? Or of the people who subscribe to Nazism? Would you object to me inciting hatred of Boko Haram or ISIS?”

    There’s a fundamental difference between expressing a hatred of an political ideology, as when people say they “hate” the Tories, or the Nazis, or Terrorists, etc, and somebody else saying they hate a group of people, because of religious, ethnic, or sexual orientation/gender, type reasons; the difference is that in the first group, one is expressing a political opposition against another political ideologies; whereas in the second case, the opposition is based on prejudices, and such irrational oppositions are not confined only to the political sphere, but spill out with often very harmful consequences.

    Jemand; “You claim that muslims cannot be separated from Islam and i think you imply that it is a logical consequence that I am therefore inciting hatred towards them as well as their religion. Firstly, if we assume that muslims cannot be separated from Islam as you claim, despite the fact that some people manage to escape the claws of Islam, your implication is still false”

    Why is it false, as by self-definition Muslims can’t exist with Islam, and vice-cersa ?! If anybody leaves Islam, they are no longer a Muslim obviously !!

    Jemand; “Note that people cannot be separated from some diseases – malaria, for example. Should my inciting hatred for the disease of malaria be conflated with hating the afflicted person?”

    No, but that is exactly what you are doing iro Muslims !

    Jemand; “I think that assumes that people should conflate the two and probably explains why so many sufferers of various illnesses like leprosy and AIDS were subjected to hatred. Of course, I suggested no such thing”

    Pardon !!!! You are clearly in denial & self-deluding yourself.

    Jemand; “You ask me what should be done with 1.57 billion muslims. May I start by asking you what should be done with those Africans who have contracted Ebola? Would helping them be out of the question?”

    No of course not, but this a red herring fallacy of an analogy.

    Jemand; ” What should we do about those people who are caught in cults, like that of Jim Jones and his Jonestown? Or of Scientology? Well I think it is reasonable to first halt the spread of the infection, provide support to those who wish to be free of their illness and isolate those who wish to infect others. Is a vicious cult really much different to a pernicious disease or mental illness? Does any of that sound acceptable to you? Or do you believe that people who are held captive in cults should be regarded as willing participants?”

    That you can compare a major world religion, centuries old, representing approx. one quarter of the world’s population, with minuscule modern cults with microscopic members is as laughable as it is worrying !

    There is something you obviously did not realise in my “Muslim” definition;

    “The fact is that Muslims cannot be separated from Islam, they are born into, live for, and die for their religion; it being the most important factor & the sole reason why they believe they exist on Earth; for them Islam comes before everything, family, country or any man made law.”

    This is a definition for all religious people, no I don’t mean those that play lip-service, like getting married in a Church etc, but to all devote religious people of all faiths; they will always place their religion before anything else, because they believe in an eternal soul & afterlife; so you have to include them also in your disease like labelling, and then what about those militant Atheists, with their unprovable faith that they are so right, seems very much like a different sort of religion to me ! Then there’s these topical Freedom of Speech advocates, behaving like intolerant mindless zealots of the pie in the sky Cult of Free Speech, which for a fact does not, & never has, ever existed.

    Seems like most of humanity is going to need “freeing of their illness and isolate” !!!

  • Duncan McFarlane

    Completely agree with you on this Craig. No one should ever be killed for drawing a cartoon. That’s murder and insane. But while some of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons have made serious points, others just seem to be about offending religious people as much as possible (and i say that as someone who is not religious).

    The worst one was the one two days after the massacre of 42 Muslim Brotherhood supporters by the Egyptian military after the coup against Morsi (Egypt’s first elected President). It showed a Muslim with beard and robes and cap holding a quran, both being shot full of bullets and said ‘In Egypt…The Quran is shit. It can’t even stop bullets.” What exactly was the point of this cartoon, other than to gloat that some religious people had been murdered, and ha ha ha their stupid religion didn’t save them? Can’t see any.

  • Jemand

    [craigmurray.org.uk – approved promptly by the foul, censoring moderator. No need to say thanks. Have a nice day 🙂 ]

    “Can you imagine Christian radicals committing mass murder at The Onion offices because they’re upset about something they found on its website? Can you even fathom such a thing? Probably not, because it never happens. It just never happens. And it’s not like Christians don’t have plenty of provocation. .. ”

    Double standards and hypocrisy? —
    http://www.theblaze.com/contributions/islam-is-the-most-violent-religion-in-the-world-but-lets-keep-calling-it-peaceful-anyway/

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