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Monday, July 11, 2005

After 7th July

The comments sections of the papers are, of course, about the aftermath of the London bombings. (And rightly so, although it's a shame that there has been correspondingly less analysis of the G8.) Gerald Warner in Scotland on Sunday has some good observations, although I'm not convinced by his overall argument.

'Britain and Europe today are so secularised that we have lost even the capacity to comprehend the religious mind. People motivated by their faith are "nutters". Suicide bombers are routinely described as "cowardly". A suicide bomber may be evil, deluded or demented, but one thing he is not is a coward. Last Thursday, Tony Blair proclaimed that "our values will long outlast theirs". Our values? Precisely what values in our crime-ridden, uncivil, irreligious, drug-addicted and sex-obsessed society, where family life is being eradicated with government help, was Blair invoking?

It is the West's declared objective of imposing its 'values' on Islamic societies that has inspired resistance and helped recruit fighters. Fathers in Islamic countries do not want their dutiful daughters, who marry as virgins, turned into promiscuous, drunken, foul-mouthed, tattooed and pierced ladettes. The images of our society on satellite television confirm Muslims in their belief that it is better to die than to go down that road. When Kabul fell, the idealistic hope of western commentators was that MTV would anaesthetise youth until Starbucks came along to finish the job.

Our fundamental mistake is that we treat Muslims with imperialist contempt in their countries, but with absurd deference in our own...'

It is also interesting that all the commentators I have so far read use a vague 'we' which does not, it seems, include Muslims - even the commentators who are very keen to celebrate diversity and so forth. So who is the 'we' of the broadsheet writing classes? White secular liberals? Anglo-Saxon descended Brits with no loyalties higher than the nation state? It does seem odd that none of these writers is more careful in their use of language. I'm not sure what I would make of it were I a Muslim - it sounds rather like people talking behind their backs. (I wonder if Catholics, or indeed non-Catholic Christians, are part of 'we'? Probably not. How long before celebrating Mass becomes an act of treason? Yes, I exaggerate enormously; but what I mean is, if states take it upon themselves to do things they cannot - like allowing abortion and redefining marriage - then what are they to do with all the people whose more profound loyalties are to authorities which conflict with the state's rulings on these matters? So far the only suggestion offered is that everyone should adopt British values in the public sphere, which seems to mean accepting the 'dictatorship of relativism' and keeping quiet while all the bad things Mr Warner mentions become further established. Anyway, that's another kettle of Friday-eaten fish...)

A hymn for the moment (website has dubious electronicky music!).