Theresa May in T&P mode

The immediate response of the British political élite to the Finsbury Park attack has, writes Dalrymple,

been instructive.

He points out that

the first reaction of any British politician to any untoward event nowadays is to shed crocodile tears.

He notes that Theresa May

went straight into her T&P mode: that is to say, her Thoughts and Prayers. She has had to do so much thinking about and praying for victims recently that she must have had little time left over for affairs of state, which perhaps accounts for the mess she is making of them.

I weep for you

The leader of the opposition’s largeness of heart was, writes Dalrymple,

until quite recently demonstrated by his understanding for almost any terrorist so long as he was sufficiently anti-western or anti-British.

Yet Jeremy Corbyn

could hardly contain his emotion — once he knew the cameras were upon him — at the thought of the Finsbury Park attack. (His emotions seem to have been under better control after the Manchester bombing and the attacks in London.)

The suicide factory

Perhaps the only surprising thing about the Finsbury Park attack, writes Dalrymple,

is that it took so long to happen.

For six years, the mosque

was the base of the most notorious Moslem cleric in Britain, Abu Hamza, who preached undying hatred of the West (while taking its social security). And although the mosque has reformed since his departure — he is serving a life sentence without parole in the USA — it is associated in the minds of most people in Britain with the kind of Moslem extremism that has led to the recent rash of terrorist attacks in Manchester and London.

Reductio ad Hitlerum

The comparisons of Donald Trump with Adolf Hitler are, writes Dalrymple,

coming thick and fast.

People are far from reluctant

to compare others with Hitler in a non-metaphorical way, or to espy full-blown Nazism on the faintest of analogies.

There is, Dalrymple notes,

a vast and extensive literature to help Americans (and others) to know ‘what it was like to be Jewish in the time of Hitler’, much of it of sufficient quality to supply the imagination; and if really we can ‘start to imagine’ it after ten days of Trump, this would be testimony either to our ignorance or to our lack of imagination, or both—the very ignorance or lack of imagination that allows us to make such outrageously far-fetched comparisons in the first place.

Riddle of the Manchester bomber’s evil depravity

Salman Abedi, writes Dalrymple,

might genuinely have believed that in killing the people in the Manchester Arena, he was bringing forward heaven on earth (as well as his access to heavenly virgins). But it is perfectly legitimate to ask how he came to believe such a thing, which is so completely fatuous from a more rational point of view. Let us disregard the evident absurdity of his ideology, which hardly deserves the trouble of refutation.

One might point, Dalrymple says, to such factors as Abedi’s

  • cultural heritage
  • experience as a refugee
  • lowly status
  • economic prospects
  • genes
  • level of testosterone

Terrorists, Dalrymple notes,

may have certain demographic characteristics or biographical features in common, certain psychological traits, that others do not have: ergo these things in common are supposed to have caused them to become terrorists. And yet, when all is said and done, we still do not feel that we have understood.

A real ray of Mohammedan sunshine

A sense of fun

This quality, Dalrymple notes, is not perhaps one of the most obvious features of your Moslem fundamentalist,

though no doubt there are certain sour satisfactions to be derived from contemplating the fathomless depravity of all those who do not submit themselves unquestioningly to one’s strictures.

An attribute of the Gilbertese

It was no concern of the men with canoes

Dalrymple notes that the Gilbertese

neither forgot nor forgave an injury. They might take their revenge many years later.

They were

entirely lacking in public spirit, seemingly concerned only for the welfare of their own extended families.

They were capable of displaying

a callousness towards the sufferings of those not of their lineage which foreigners were bound to find repellent.

In Fool or Physician, Dalrymple relates that the Pacific historian and anthropologist H.E. Maude, who was Resident Commissioner of the Gilbert and Ellis Islands Colony in the late ’40s,

told the story of how he one day saw a woman drowning out to sea. He asked some men with canoes who were standing on the shore watching her plight why they did not rescue her. ‘Why should we?’ they replied. ‘She is not our relative.’

Report on the colonisation of the Phœnix Islands

Folie à deux

Lasègue-Falret Syndrome (psychose partagée)

There are cases every day, writes Dalrymple,

that defeat the neurochemists and would have baffled Shakespeare himself.

He recalls a spinster in her fifties who lived in a council flat with her brother. They

appeared to be suffering from standard (if I may put it so) paranoid delusions.

The spinster believed that her neighbours, a simple and inoffensive West Indian couple,

  • were pumping poison gas into the flat
  • had invented an electronic thought scanner that read all her thoughts. She heard them talking about her, plotting to kill her, and referring to her in the most abusive terms

Her brother, who,

though only an unskilled worker, insisted on going everywhere by taxi and smoked cigarettes through an ivory and silver holder, like a proletarian Noël Coward,

also heard the voices and strenuously denied that his sister was mad. To prove it, he handed over to Dalrymple 10 tapes — 15 hours in all — of recordings of what he said were the whirring sound of the thought scanner and the voices of the neighbours taunting and insulting his sister.

Dalrymple promised to listen to the tapes when he had a spare 15 hours.

The nature of politicians

The doctor-writer picks up a copy of S.L. Sutton’s 1972 volume in the series ‘Invertebrate Types‘, which Dalrymple says does not in point of fact refer to current British politicians such as David Cameron (‘morals of a jackal and backbone of a mollusc’) or Theresa May (‘Machiavelli minus the cunning’).

The invincible BBC

A television producer at the British state broadcaster once outlined for Dalrymple’s benefit the phases of liberal denial.

The producer’s colleagues regarded him as a maverick, a tilter at windmills, almost a madman. And what was his madness? He wanted the BBC to make unvarnished documentaries about life in the lower third of society: about the mass (and increasing)

  • illiteracy
  • illegitimacy and single parenthood
  • hooliganism
  • violence
  • lawlessness
  • drug-taking
  • welfare dependency
  • hopelessness

so that the rest of the population might begin to take stock of what was happening on their doorstep. He wanted to concentrate on the devastating effects of the fragmentation—no, the atomisation—of the family that liberal legislation, social engineering, and cultural attitudes since the late 1950s have so powerfully promoted.

The producer’s BBC superiors greeted his proposals, Dalrymple explains, with condescension.

  • First, they denied the facts. When he produced irrefutable evidence of their existence, they accused him of moral panic.
  • When he proved that the phenomena to which the facts pointed were both serious and spreading rapidly up the social scale, they said that there was nothing that could be done about them, because they were an inevitable part of modern existence.
  • When he said that they were the result of deliberate policy, they asked him whether he wanted to return to the bad old days when spouses who hated each other were forced to live together.
  • When he said that what had been done could be undone, at least in part, they produced their ace of trumps: the subject was not interesting, so there was no point in making programmes about it.

Thus the British public, says Dalrymple,

would be left to sleepwalk its way undisturbed through the social disaster from which a fragile economic prosperity will certainly not protect it.