Category Archives: Charlie Hebdo shootings

Popish unctuousness and cowardice

Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 09.28.47Less a shepherd, more one of the sheep

Pope Francis’s speech to Congress, writes Dalrymple, resembled that of

a politician seeking re-election. It was like the work not of a man intent upon telling the truth, however painful or unpopular, but that of a committee of speech-writers who sifted every word for its effect, appealing to some without being too alienating of others. If Bill Clinton had been elected pope, he might have made the same speech, so perfect was its triangulation, so empty its high-sounding phrases.

Interviewed after the Charlie Hebdo massacre, Francis let it be known that if someone insulted his mother he could expect a punch, making a physical gesture to illustrate his point.

This is not exactly the doctrine enunciated in the Sermon on the Mount; and one could not imagine John Paul II or Benedict XVI making so foolish or crude a mistake under the complacent impression that he was charming.

Francis’s

propensity to run after false gods, most of them fashionable in the constituency to which he evidently wants to appeal, no doubt accounts for his popularity. He is bien pensant; and where he does not yet feel able to alter doctrine in a liberal direction he is evasive and even cowardly, afraid to court distaste or opposition by clear expression of what he means.

Dalrymple asks to whom and at what these papal weasel words are directed:

It is my wish throughout my visit that the family be a recurrent theme. How essential the family has been to the building of this country! How worthy it remains of our support and encouragement! Yet I cannot hide my concern for the family, which is threatened as never before, from within and without. Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family. I can only reiterate the importance and, above all, the richness and beauty of family life.

Dalrymple:

Who and what are calling fundamental relationships into question? Fundamental relationships do not call themselves into question: someone must do it in the name of some doctrine, some belief. The Pope’s resort to the passive mood is indicative of his moral cowardice in confronting the opponents of what the Church believes in. Those opponents he knows to be militant and aggressive, and to confront them openly would lead to his fall in the popularity polls.

Francis

evades the issue with vague and oily declamation. It is one thing to be peace-loving and conciliatory, another to surrender by means of avoidance of the issue.

Such avoidance was evident when Francis said:

We know that no religion is immune from forms of individual delusion or ideological extremism.

Dalrymple:

This may be true in the abstract, but the wholesale persecution of religious minorities, and the perpetration of violent acts in a host of locations, is confined to Islamic extremism. It would have been better for the Pope not to have broached the subject than to have dealt with it in so pusillanimous a fashion.

The Pope’s secularist outlook is evident in his abolitionism:

I am convinced that this way is best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes. I also offer encouragement to all those who are convinced that a just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.

Dalrymple:

There is nothing here about mercy, forgiveness, repentance, redemption or salvation. Rehabilitation is a purely secular concept, suggesting that the wickedness of crime is a form of illness, to be treated by the psychological equivalent of physiotherapy; sin, or even vice, doesn’t come into it.

Francis’s words

are indistinguishable from those of the European Court of Human Rights, when it ruled that it was a breach of fundamental rights that brutal repeat murderers should be sentenced to whole-life terms because such sentences exclude the possibility of their rehabilitation (even if, in practice, they would never be released). But while God may forgive Himmler – under certain conditions – surely Man cannot. The irreparable exists in the sublunary world.

At every point, Dalrymple points out, Francis

evaded specifics and resorted to unctuous generalities. No one ever courted unpopularity by denouncing injustice, but many risked much by being specific about what they considered, rightly or wrongly, unjust.

Francis

was against poverty in the way the preacher in the Coolidge anecdote was against sin. But while no secularist will speak up for poverty, the religious attitude has traditionally been more nuanced.

Francis spoke of the unjust structures that exist even in the developed world. This, says Dalrymple, is to

make a fetish of wealth.

Moreover, he was

exciting one of the seven deadly sins, envy.

Francis, Dalrymple concludes, prefers to court popularity while rocking no boats. He

plays to the gallery, wanting to be liked by everybody. There is nothing of timelessness in what he says but only of the temporal, the contingent, the fashionably platitudinous.

New-look Little Mermaid (warning: satanic content)

Screen Shot 2015-02-14 at 20.02.51Dalrymple chuckles at the cartoon pictured right, which is from Le Canard enchaîné. He notes that the verb relouquer

brings to mind reluquer, which means to ogle — doubtless a play on words.

He also likes the ‘Mahomet overwhelmed by the fundamentalists’ cover of Charlie Hebdo (‘It’s hard sometimes, being loved by these cretins’).

From the outset of the Danish cartoons crisis, Dalrymple points out, the French

have vigorously defended the right of free expression, unlike the British and Americans, whose pretence that they ‘understand’ Muslim outrage has fooled no one and given the fanatics the (correct) impression of weakness and lack of conviction — and thus encouraged them.

Le Canard enchaîné and Charlie Hebdo have

Screen Shot 2015-02-14 at 19.44.37with Voltairean aplomb published a series of cartoons mocking the Islamists and their beliefs as they deserve, with a courage and frankness almost entirely missing from the British and American media. They have inflicted a humiliation on the Islamists, in the best possible way, by exposing their intellectual nullity to withering scorn.

Moreover,

no one can accuse the two papers of racism, xenophobia, or any of the other crimes of lèse-PC, since they criticise and mock everyone (who deserves it) without fear or favour.

Screen Shot 2015-02-14 at 20.40.44The French emerge

as far stauncher and more fearless and unapologetic defenders of freedom than the Americans or the British. They have stuck to an important principle without calculation of immediate interest or even short-term consequences.

The French

find the equivocations of the Anglo-Saxons strange, spineless, and reprehensible, and in this instance they are absolutely right.

(2006)

Screen Shot 2015-02-14 at 20.39.47

Praise for Libération and the Guardian

Screen Shot 2015-01-09 at 22.17.25The Financial Times disgraced itself, but other European newspapers’ response to the Charlie Hebdo shootings has been admirable, Dalrymple writes.

Libération has bravely given the magazine space in its office; the next edition of Charlie Hebdo will print 1m copies, 25 times its normal run. And in Britain, the Guardian has announced a donation of £100,000 to Charlie Hebdo.

The actions of Libération and the Guardian stand, Dalrymple points out,

in marked contrast to the pusillanimity displayed by George W. Bush during the Danish cartoon crisis of 2006, and by Barack Obama in 2012, when he criticized Charlie Hebdo for being offensive to Muslim sentiment.

Cartoonists brought it on themselves

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 08.34.16Faut pas se moquer: journalism at the Financial Times

How long, Dalrymple asks,

would it take for a Western journalist to blame the Charlie Hebdo murders on French colonialism and journalistic insensitivity to the feelings of Muslims? Not nearly as long, I suspected, as it would take a journalist in the Muslim world to blame them on the legacy of Mohammed and Islam. And I was right.

Tony Barber: Charlie Hebdo should stop 'being stupid'

Tony Barber: Charlie Hebdo ‘just being stupid’

Distressing wrong-headedness

Dalrymple reports that it took less than four hours for someone called Tony Barber, described as an ‘associate editor’ of the Financial Times, to publish an article on the newspaper’s website

blaming the journalists and cartoonists of the satirical French magazine (and the two policemen as well?) for their own deaths.

This Barber, Dalrymple points out, wrote and posted the following (see screenshot):

Screen Shot 2015-01-10 at 10.14.38Charlie Hebdo has a long record of mocking, baiting and needling French Muslims . . . Some common sense would be useful at publications such as Charlie Hebdo . . . which purport to strike a blow for freedom when they provoke Muslims, but are actually just being stupid.

Perverted

Dalrymple’s response:

According to this perverted logic, if the relatives of the 12 murdered men were now to storm into the offices of the Financial Times and shoot 12 staff members because of the considerable provocation offered by Tony Barber, it will prove only that Barber had just been stupid.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 08.31.07Dalrymple points to a relevant difference between the two cases:

When he wrote his disgraceful little article, Barber knew perfectly well that the relatives of the murdered men would not behave in this fashion, and that therefore he was not ‘just being stupid’. Hence, he equates prudence with cowardice, a sure way to encourage (though not perhaps to provoke, in his sense of the word) more such attacks.

Barber refers to Charlie Hebdo's 'editorial foolishness', in contradistinction to the FT's editorial wisdom, judgment, tact and perspective

Barbare refers to Charlie Hebdo’s ‘editorial foolishness’, in contradistinction to the FT’s editorial wisdom, judgment, tact and perspective

Cowardice

Barber’s implicit recognition

that some people react differently to provocation is not flattering to those whom he wishes to exculpate, in so far as it implies that they are childishly unable to accept the kind of mockery that is perfectly normal in a free country.

France had it coming

In his first paragraph, Barber wrote

that the attack on Charlie Hebdo will ‘not surprise anyone familiar with the rising tensions among France’s 5m or more Muslim citizens and the poisonous legacy of French colonialism in North Africa.’ In other words, France had it coming, though it offers a far better life to its 5m Muslims than they would be likely to find anywhere in the Muslim world, including in their countries of descent. The Muslims owe nothing, no loyalty, to France.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 09.21.56How To Spend It

Rather than commenting cretinously on matters of which it knows little or nothing, such as the meaning of the Charlie Hebdo shootings, Islamism, free speech, etc., perhaps the Financial Times should concentrate on what it does best, for example putting out its spectacularly vulgar and imprudent How To Spend It magazine supplement for the corrupt international rich.

Voltaire

Dalrymple concludes:

The French must defend to the death the right of their satirists to mock, bait, and needle Muslims, in France and elsewhere.

Private Eye No. 1384, 23 Jan - 5 Feb 2015

Private Eye No. 1384, 23 Jan – 5 Feb 2015