Category Archives: cowards

Flüchtlinge willkommen

Screen Shot 2015-11-28 at 08.48.04So, even now, say a few Germans. In Sweden they cried (until they brought in border checks),

Flyktingar välkomna.

Dalrymple turns to Max Frisch’s Biedermann und die Brandstifter (1953), written

Screen Shot 2015-11-28 at 08.48.47in the aftermath of the Second World War as an attempt to explain (and to warn) how a patent evil like Nazism can triumph in a civilised society.

The play’s protagonist, Dalrymple explains,

is a comfortable bourgeois living in a town that is beset by several mysterious acts of arson. He is visited at home by Schmitz, a hawker, who half-persuades, half-intimidates his way into an invitation to lodge in Biedermann’s attic, and who soon brings a second hawker, Eisenring, to stay in the house.

Screen Shot 2015-11-28 at 08.34.08Gradually it becomes clear that Schmitz and Eisenring

are the ones setting the fires in the town, but Biedermann refuses to acknowledge it. His blindness arises from moral and physical cowardice, and from wishful thinking—the hope that what he sees does not really mean what it obviously means.

Screen Shot 2015-11-28 at 08.49.23Schmitz and Eisenring bring barrels of gasoline into the house and Biedermann,

pusillanimous to the last, helps them make the fuses and gives them the matches with which they burn his house down.

A nation of obsessed enragés cannot be free

Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 09.07.23The empire of Marxism, writes Dalrymple, has declined into

petty Balkan obsessions, each anxious to impose its own orthodoxy by the same methods of intimidation. An increasing number of subjects are off-limits to the wary; pressure groups long ago realised that you don’t have to go in for the crudity of Islamic fatwa and the Charlie Hebdo killings to exclude unwanted commentary.

Who after the dismissal of Professor Sir Timothy Hunt

by the cowards and poltroons of University College, London, terrorised as they were by the National Union of Harridans, would dare to repeat his sentiments in public, even as a joke? If a Nobel prize doesn’t protect a man from a witch-hunt, what hope is there for the rest of us?

Freedom of expression and opinion is

a habit of the heart and a discipline, a willing suspension of outrage towards those with whom we disagree, however strongly. I say (including to myself because, alas, it is often necessary to do so), control your rage.