Category Archives: assassinations

Bright young things

Ideological selective memory

Picking up a copy of the International Herald Tribune, Dalrymple alights on an article reprinted from the New York Times on the Dirty War in Argentina. It declares that

the devastation inflicted on a generation is hard to overstate,

and asserts that a large proportion of those who disappeared were

bright and idealistic young people.

Dalrymple comments:

The phrase ‘bright and idealistic young people’ should be sufficient to alert any sensible person to the likelihood that an important aspect of the story is being omitted for ideological reasons (or rather, purposes).

He notes that in pursuit of their ideals, the mistakes that some of these bright young people made included

  • armed robbery
  • widespread kidnap
  • assassination
  • random murder

By the time the army carried out its coup in 1976, Dalrymple notes,

over 3,000 people had been killed in the political violence unleashed by the young idealists. The Dirty War, terrible and unforgivable as it was, did not arise by spontaneous generation.

The part played in the Dirty War by the bright young idealists

should not be forgotten (though it almost always is), for otherwise, the wrong lessons will be learned. Amnesia would be preferable to blatantly ideological selective memory.

Candles, my dear, candles. Teddy-bears are infra dig

Screen Shot 2016-06-18 at 21.05.48As soon as Dalrymple heard of the Orlando nightclub shooting and of the Jo Cox murder,

I knew that within a few hours the candles would be out.

Sure enough,

like the ants that appear on my kitchen surface when there is something sweet left about, lit candles in little glasses appeared. Where do they come from, these candles, and where are they hiding before a massacre, an assassination or a disaster?

Screen Shot 2016-06-18 at 21.06.57Dalrymple thinks it likely

that all those who light candles and stand or sit looking sad but beatific and virtuous behind or beside them after a terrible event are not religious. They would not be seen dead lighting a candle in a church. But they are probably the kind of people who say they are ‘spiritual but not religious’, that is to say who indulge in all kinds of spiritual kitsch, for instance

  • reiki therapy
  • healing chakras of the earth
  • wind chimes
  • strategically-placed crystals

Screen Shot 2016-06-18 at 21.11.24What, he asks, is the message?

That they are opposed to massacre or assassination and regret disaster? Does this have to be expressed? Perhaps they are trying to recapture a belief in the transcendent whose very existence they doubt or, in other circumstances, vehemently deny.

Dalrymple says that candles

are a couple of rungs up the spiritual ladder from teddy-bears, the intermediate rung on the ladder being bouquets in cellophane piled high at or near the site of death. The black armband and the mourning dress have been replaced by the teddy-bear, the unwrapped bouquet and the candle in its little glass.

Screen Shot 2016-06-18 at 21.14.01Candles are also

a couple of rungs up the social ladder; the lighters of candles would probably regard teddy-bears as infra dig.

Dalrymple notes that the candles and teddy-bears

must be very comforting for Islamists. When they see them, they must think, ‘These are weak and feeble people, easily intimidated and eminently destructible.

Screen Shot 2016-06-18 at 21.15.38 Screen Shot 2016-06-18 at 21.18.09 Screen Shot 2016-06-18 at 21.19.43 Screen Shot 2016-06-18 at 21.16.25