Category Archives: Islamic terrorism

An eschatological philosophy in a post-religious world

Marxism, writes Dalrymple,

served more than one psychological purpose.

It gave those who adhered to it

the comforting feeling that they understood the inner or hidden workings of the world; that they were far superior in this understanding to those who did not adhere to it; and that they were participating in something far bigger than themselves. It gave them an illusion of transcendence.

Dalrymple points out that although many Marxists claimed that communist Russia’s downfall did not affect their faith in the truth of their secular religion,

Marxism as an intellectual system was deeply discredited by the now-undeniable failure of the Soviet Union to deliver on any of its utopian promises.

On the contrary, Marxism

provided the pretext for the murder, as well as causing the miserable living conditions, of many millions of people; and it was as implausible to deny the connection of these with Marxism as it is now to deny the connection of terrorism with Islam.

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The Cæsaropapists

screen-shot-2016-12-24-at-19-13-36Dalrymple writes that in her speech on the basket of deplorables, Hillary Clinton divided people into

  1. the decent and correct, holding sterilised opinions on race, sex, identity and culture
  2. the deviant and incorrect, dwelling outside the limits of civilised society

La población se halla aquí dividida entre quienes tienen opiniones decentes, correctas, demostrablemente esterilizadas, sobre la raza, el sexo, la identidad nacional y el multiculturalismo, despojadas de todos los agentes contaminantes no autorizados, por un lado, y quienes, al desviarse del punto de vista correcto, se sitúan ellos mismos fuera de los límites aceptables de la sociedad civilizada, por otro.

Bill Clinton: the expression of virtuous opinions has the happy effect of liberating behaviourCorrect opinion, Dalrymple notes, is nine-tenths of virtue. Anyone with wrong opinions is morally wrong: worse than a thief, a delinquent or a drunk, and much worse than a womaniser. Virtue is not the exercise of a discipline but the expression of an opinion; this has the happy effect of liberating behaviour.

La mayoría de los intelectuales consideran ahora, además, que la opinión «correcta» son nueve décimas partes de virtud, por lo que cualquier persona que abrace las opiniones «erróneas» no está simplemente equivocada, sino que es moralmente mala: peor que, por ejemplo, un ladrón, un delincuente o un borracho, y mucho peor que un mujeriego. Actualmente la virtud no es el ejercicio de una disciplina, sino la expresión de una opinión: lo cual tiene, por supuesto, el feliz efecto de liberar la verdadera conducta.

For the Cæsaropapists, as Dalrymple calls them, words like racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic are wonderfully elastic. Such epithets have negative connotations, of course; as to their denotations, well, they denote anything that the powerful, or those aspiring to power, say they denote. The point is not just to exercise power but to entrench it, moulding minds and obviating resistance.

Palabras como racista, sexista, homófobo, xenófobo e islamófobo son maravillosamente elásticas desde el punto de vista del nuevo Cæsaropapista, que desea no sólo ejercer el poder temporal sino también afianzarlo, moldeando las mentes de las personas de tal modo que les resulte imposible cualquier oposición real. Epítetos como los referidos más arriba tienen ahora connotaciones morales irreductiblemente negativas, pero en cuanto a qué es lo que realmente denotan… bueno, denotan cualquier cosa que el poderoso, o el aspirante a poderoso, diga que denotan.

'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.' (Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass, Mervyn Peake illustration)

‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’ (Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass, Mervyn Peake illustration)

Dalrymple points out that in a world where representations of reality are more important than reality itself, control of the meanings of words is as important as, or more important than, control of parliaments.

En un mundo en el que las representaciones de la realidad son a menudo, o incluso habitualmente, más importantes que la realidad misma, el control de los significados de las palabras resulta tan importante como el control de los parlamentos, o anterior a este.

Take racism. It is, Dalrymple notes, no longer the doctrine that certain groups of people are inferior; it now means opposition to political prescriptions, often extraordinarily bureaucratic and job-multiplying, supposed to counteract racism. A racist is no longer a member of a gang that goes about lynching people, or an advocate of segregation in buses; it is someone who harbours doubts about, say, affirmative action, who apprehends that such a policy leads to falling standards, that it works against those who, having broken through, wonder if their success might not be due to racial condescension. A racist is also someone who denies that the differing levels of achievement of various groups is attributable entirely to injustice — of the kind that it is the duty of the State to correct.

La definición de palabras como racista es importante, porque a nadie, exceptuada una porción diminuta e insignificante de la población, le gusta que le llamen racista. Pero se trata de una acusación contra la que resulta cada vez más difícil defenderse. El racismo ya no significa la doctrina según la cual ciertos grupos de seres humanos físicamente identificables son biológica y moralmente inferiores y pueden, por tanto, ser tratados como tales. Es, más bien, la oposición a algún tipo de prescripción política, con frecuencia extraordinariamente burocrática y creadora de empleo, supuestamente con el propósito de contrarrestar el racismo, que es ahora más del corazón que de la verdadera conducta. El racista ya no es el integrante de una pandilla que se dedica al linchamiento o el defensor de la segregación en los autobuses, sino la persona que duda del acierto de la discriminación positiva porque no sólo conduce a un descenso de los estándares, sino que puede llegar a confundir a un negro que ha logrado abrirse camino y que no sabe si su éxito se debe a una suerte de condescendencia racial y no a su propio talento. Y se trata de una preocupación que ningún éxito ni logro pueden mitigar. Racista es también la persona que niega que las diferencias en el resultado alcanzado entre grupos humanos deben atribuirse entera y exclusivamente a una injusticia que es obligación del gobierno corregir y que asegura que esas diferencias en los resultados podrían haber surgido de otro modo.

screen-shot-2016-12-24-at-19-23-53Dalrymple cites homophobia. It is no longer a wish to outlaw homosexual behaviour; it now applies when, for instance, people raise questions about homosexual marriage, as if such doubts are based on nothing but the most savage hatred. To be homophobic is to be put in the category of a member of a gang that goes around looking for homosexuals to beat up. Even wanting to discuss the matter is ultramontane: to deny the rightness, the good sense, the humanity of homosexual marriage is like believing that the Earth is flat — with this difference, that while the latter is a harmless eccentricity, the former is a moral enormity.

Homofobia no es un deseo de perseguir activamente a los homosexuales declarando ilegal su comportamiento incluso en privado, o atacándoles o humillándoles dondequiera que se encuentren; es, entre otras cosas, cuestionar el acierto del matrimonio homosexual, o plantearle objeciones, como si tal cuestionamiento u objeciones no pudieran sustentarse en nada más racional que la animosidad y los prejuicios más primitivos. Así, a la persona que, por motivos intelectuales, se opone (aun en la privacidad de su propia mente) a que se reconozca el matrimonio entre dos hombres como algo idéntico al celebrado entre un hombre y una mujer, se la colocará en la misma categoría que al integrante de una pandilla que se dedica a ir por las calles en busca de homosexuales para atacarlos. En este sentido, incluso querer examinar el asunto se convirtió en un signo de reacción virulenta o ultramontana, una suerte de tierraplanismo moral. Negar el acierto, el buen sentido o la humanidad del matrimonio homosexual es como persistir en la idea de que la Tierra era plana. Aunque con esta diferencia: que mientras que esto último no es más que una simpática excentricidad, lo primero es una enormidad moral.

screen-shot-2016-12-24-at-19-31-44Few fret enough about the homosexual-marriage issue to risk the shame that dissent from orthodoxy would bring down on them if they protested, says Dalrymple. The issue has been decided by asymmetric warfare between a small number of monomaniacal activists, for whom the matter is of existential importance, and a large number of sceptics and opponents, for whom the matter is just one question among many, and not the most important.

A pocas personas les preocupa el asunto lo bastante como para arriesgarse a sufrir el oprobio moral que haría recaer sobre ellos la pública expresión de disentimiento de la nueva ortodoxia. La cuestión ha sido decidida por el equivalente de la guerra asimétrica entre, por un lado, un número reducido de defensores entusiastas y monomaníacos, para quienes el asunto revestía una importancia existencial, y, por otro, un gran número de escépticos y opositores, para quienes era y es únicamente una cuestión entre muchas otras, y no la más importante.

This de facto silencing of even the mildest sceptical voices is normally associated with totalitarian dictatorships, Dalrymple notes. The self-imposed restriction on expression of heterodox ideas in public soon becomes self-censorship of our ideas, because none of us likes being a coward. The aim is to deny that there has been any suppression of freedom of thought at all.

El silenciamiento de facto de aun el más suave escepticismo ejerce en las mentes el tipo de violencia que normalmente se asocia con las dictaduras totalitarias más que con las democracias liberales. La negativa autoimpuesta a expresar ideas heterodoxas en una compañía «decente» o en público se convierte enseguida en autocensura de las propias ideas, porque a nadie le gusta tenerse por un cobarde; lo que busca, por tanto, es negar antes de nada que se haya producido ningún tipo de supresión.

Thus, on the issue of homosexual marriage, we should not ask

  • how an idea that not so long ago would have seemed absurd, even unthinkable, cannot be questioned by anyone who wishes to be considered enlightened
  • why those who have worked systematically to weaken marriage as an institution, calling it oppressive and stifling of all the potential beauty of human relations, now suddenly exalt it
  • whether this enthusiasm is not, in fact, the means by which to weaken it further
  • what will be next in the boundary-pushing agenda of social engineering

No deben preguntar cómo es que una idea que tan solo pocos años antes habría parecido absurda, ridícula, impensable incluso, se ha convertido en una ortodoxia incuestionable por parte de una persona que desee ser considerada ilustrada; no deben preguntar por qué aquellos que han trabajado sistemáticamente para debilitar el matrimonio como institución, defendiendo que es opresivo e inhibitorio de toda la belleza potencial de las relaciones humanas, lo exaltan ahora de repente de forma entusiasta; no deben preguntarse si este entusiasmo no es, de hecho, el medio con el cual debilitarlo aún más; no deben preguntar si cualquier persona prudente habría de echar por tierra la imagen que tiene de un acuerdo tan antiguo como el matrimonio sin siquiera una mirada retrospectiva; no deben preguntar qué será lo siguiente en la agenda de ingeniería social para acabar con los límites heredados, a pesar de que es perfectamente evidente que la caravana de reformas (como sucedió, de hecho, muy pronto) seguiría adelante. Tampoco deben darse cuenta de que eslóganes como igualdad ante el matrimonio o, en Francia, mariage pour tous, son, bien mentiras, bien pagarés para nuevas «reformas», como el matrimonio incestuoso o la poligamia y la poliandria, ya que, al fin y al cabo, también pueden ser acuerdos realizados entre adultos que consienten en algo (pueden encontrarse adultos que consentirán en casi cualquier cosa, y un ejemplo que viene al caso es el del hombre que quería comerse a alguien y que se emparejó, con éxito desde el punto de vista de la satisfacción del deseo mutuo, con otro que quería ser comido): porque, tras haber negado que el significado del matrimonio es lisa y llanamente la unión de un hombre y una mujer, no existe defensa alguna contra el posterior desplazamiento de los límites.

To stay out of Hillary’s basket, we must suppress thought or, better still, not think. The more important the subject, the more imperative it is to ignore it. It is our duty, if we do not wish to be classed as deplorable, to rejoice in what we regret, to take pleasure in what we have lost, to see in what is strange nothing but the friendly, the compatible, the enriching.

Hay tantos temas sobre los que, a fin de evitar acabar en el cesto, hay que suprimir ahora todo pensamiento o, mejor aún, no pensar, que esta persona se siente oprimida. Cuanto más importante es el tema, más tiene que ignorarlo. Es nuestra obligación, por tanto, si no deseamos que nos clasifiquen como deplorables, alegrarnos de lo que lamentamos, obtener placer de nuestra propia pérdida, no ver en lo extraño más que lo amistoso, compatible y enriquecedor, y concebir en general el mundo sin más como un montón de restaurantes diferentes.

screen-shot-2016-12-24-at-19-36-30Dalrymple instances mass immigration. Are we concerned that too large an influx of people soaked in an alien culture will change our way of life? We must learn to curb this irrationality; we should remember that the way of life to which we are so attached is responsible for all the evils of the world, past, present and future. (This is the mirror image of the mission civilisatrice.)

¿Le preocupa que una llegada demasiado grande de personas empapadas de una cultura extraña cambie un modo de vida al que se siente apegado? Debe aprender a superar su apego: porque, históricamente considerado, el modo de vida al que se siente apegado es responsable de todos los males del mundo, pasados, presentes o futuros. (Esta es, seguramente, la imagen refleja de la mission civilisatrice, y resulta al menos halagadora para nuestro engreimiento.)

Thus, on the issue of Muslim immigration, we are not allowed to ask if it is wise to take in so many people whose faith and conduct

  • do not favour unrestricted intellectual inquiry
  • spring from an uninterrupted tradition of punishing critics, if not eliminating them
  • betray no conception of equality before the law

screen-shot-2016-12-24-at-19-39-19On no account must we ask

  • if it is wise to take in so many people the influence of whose religion, in its most intransigent and evangelising form, looks like it is growing very rapidly
  • what we receive, over and above a wider choice of restaurants and certain talented individuals that can be found in all groups, in return for the grave danger posed by a small minority
  • what benefit these people bestow that is not on offer from other immigrants without the attendant danger

No debe siquiera pasársenos por la cabeza que quizá sea desaconsejable aceptar en nuestro seno a un número demasiado grande de personas cuya religión no favorece la indagación intelectual sin restricciones; que cuenta con una tradición ininterrumpida de castigar a los críticos, cuando no de eliminarlos; que no tiene concepción alguna de la igualdad ante la ley; y cuyo influjo en su forma más intransigente y evangelizadora parece ser hacerse más fuerte en la segunda generación. Nuestra autocensura debe producirse toda ella en nombre de una cualidad abstracta −la diversidad− que se da por supuesto que es buena incondicionalmente y sin reservas. ¿No debemos preguntar qué recibimos específicamente, además de restaurantes y de algunas personas de talento que pueden encontrarse en todos los grupos humanos, a cambio del peligro de plantean ahora una minoría de ellos, hay que admitir que muy pequeña? ¿Cuál es el beneficio que no pueda ser traído por otros grupos inmigrantes sin el peligro anejo?

To allow such thoughts to run through our heads even for a moment is to suffer the deplorable condition of Islamophobia. If we wonder whether Mohammedanism is compatible with intellectual freedom, it is a sign of a moral defect as well as of a psychopathology. We have an irrational fear, like that of spiders or of being locked in a room.

Dejar siquiera que estos pensamientos se te pasen por la cabeza durante un instante es padecer la deplorable condición de islamofobia: como si preguntarse si el islam fuera compatible con la libertad intelectual, especialmente en relación consigo mismo, fuera similar en su forma a un miedo irracional a las arañas o a estar encerrado en una habitación. Esta fobia, sin embargo, es tanto enfermedad como defecto moral (al contrario de la aracnofobia o de, por ejemplo, la adicción a las drogas, que es una pura enfermedad).

Mr Podsnap, from Dickens, Our Mutual Friend

Mr Podsnap, from Dickens, Our Mutual Friend

Political correctness, says Dalrymple, sows in the educated the fear of ostracism, of being an intellectual leper, of being locked up with the deplorables (to prevent the spread of the disease). And it infuriates the large numbers of people who neither subscribe to it nor benefit from it, and who feel that the energies devoted to trying to decide, for instance, which public toilets transsexuals should be allowed to use, is an insult to their own, much more pressing, problems.

Entre las clases educadas, la corrección política siembra el miedo al ostracismo social, a quedar relegados a un leprosario mental en el que se encierra a todos los deplorables para impedir que se propague su maligna enfermedad; pero enfurece a quienes ni la suscriben ni se benefician de ella, y a quienes sienten que la energía y el esfuerzo que se dedican a tratar de decidir qué baños públicos debería permitirse utilizar a los transexuales es un insulto a sus propios problemas, más acuciantes, pero desdeñados.

Moreover, writes Dalrymple, there is in political correctness an insufferable, oppressive, cloying pretension of superiority that needs a Dickens to satirise successfully.

En la corrección política hay una insufrible, agobiante, empalagosa pretensión de superioridad que sólo Dickens podría haber satirizado con éxito.

Don’t mention the Muslims!

screen-shot-2016-12-18-at-10-02-55The religion we dare not name

Lying in bed late one night unable to sleep, Dalrymple resorts to a normally reliable curative: the British Journal of Psychiatry.

Two papers in particular quickly banish the insomnia,

  • one by Jeremy W. Coid, Kamaldeep Bhui, Deirdre MacManus, Constantinos Kallis, Paul Bebbington and Simone Ullrich headed Extremism, religion and psychiatric morbidity in a population-based sample of young men,
  • and one by Kamaldeep Bhui, Maria João Silva, Raluca A. Topciu and Edgar Jones on Pathways to sympathies for violent protest and terrorism.
Bognor Regis Chess Club in the great days

Bognor Regis Chess Club in the great days

Dalrymple writes that in addition to being quite unilluminating, the articles’ conclusions are

as dull as the annual accounts of a local chess club.

The authors

would make Armageddon sound boring.

They are also pusillanimous. We all know, Dalrymple notes,

what kind of terrorism and extremism the authors are thinking of, but the title of neither paper mentions it. We walk permanently on eggshells.

screen-shot-2016-12-18-at-10-33-38What religion are we talking about? The articles do not tell us. The whole subject

is dealt with in so opaque a fashion that it is difficult not to believe that the authors feared retribution—from the politically correct if not from terrorists themselves. They are like those puppies that, being curious, approach a danger, but then retreat, approach again, and retreat again.

Perhaps the authors wished to prevent readers from drawing the obvious conclusion, that

Enoch Powell had been right all along.

screen-shot-2016-12-18-at-10-36-55We should all like to know, says Dalrymple,

why some people become terrorists, other than for the most obvious reason: that to kill, maim, and destroy, supposedly for a good cause or some allegedly higher purpose, is a delight to a certain kind of person, worth even dying for. In addition, I doubt that there are many more self-important people than terrorists.

screen-shot-2016-12-18-at-10-46-45You might think that psychiatry and psychiatrists would be able to shed some light on the matter, but this, Dalrymple points out,

is a manifestation of a modern superstition, that human self-understanding has made great strides pari passu with technical advances such as brain scans and a knowledge of neurochemistry. In fact, we have not advanced beyond Pope’s description of Man as ‘the glory, jest and riddle of the world’.

screen-shot-2016-12-18-at-10-49-03screen-shot-2016-12-18-at-10-50-26

 

 

How Western pusillanimity emboldens vicious Muslims

Abdel Malik and Adel Kermiche

Adel Kermiche and Abdel Malik Petitjean

The problem, writes Dalrymple,

lies at least as much with us as with them. By our cowardice, often inadvertently, we support and encourage Islamism. There are many stories of Christmas decorations being taken down, no reference to Christmas being made in case it should offend, etc., when no demand from the Muslim population that these things should be done has been made. It is an anticipatory cringe that encourages the extremists to push a little harder at what they think is a half-open door.

A fine US example of this genre, he notes, is the bowdlerisation of Yale University Press’s book on the Jyllands-Posten Mahomed cartoons affair.

Many Islamist terrorists, Dalrymple points out, have gone through a libertine phase. Muslim men in the West very often immerse themselves in libertinism, but if at all reflective, may come to discover that

libertinism is not the answer to life’s dissatisfactions, and will then find a ready-made utopian ideology at hand, one which emerges from their own background and is therefore a source of pride to them.

Out come the candles

Outside the French Embassy, London

Outside the French Embassy, London

They’re such a comfort to the Islamists

Dalrymple says he 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?

Promenade des Anglais

Promenade des Anglais

Dalrymple 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
Circular Quay, Sydney

Circular Quay, Sydney

What, 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 2016-07-15 at 12.17.25Candles 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 2016-07-15 at 12.32.10

In the CDG bookstore

Screen Shot 2016-06-04 at 13.33.11

Enjoy your flight

Browsing in a bookshop at Charles De Gaulle, Dalrymple finds that there is a very extensive section devoted to Islamic terrorism, which, he notes,

has taken over from the Occupation as the favoured theme of non-fiction in France.

Dalrymple is

a good customer for such books, even if I can never quite remember the names of the individual terrorists or of the various terrorist groupuscules that they have joined.

Something to read on the plane

Something to read on the plane

Publishers

can’t go too far wrong, it seems, with books about Hitler or the Occupation, and these days with books about Islamic terrorism.

The fact that terrorism

ought not to be a suitable subject for reading matter in an airport or a passenger aëroplane suggests, however, that in our hearts most of us believe that we are statistically not very likely to be victims of it, and that Islamic terrorism is a vile and stupid nuisance rather than the existential threat to our civilisation as some have claimed it to be. The main danger is from our reaction to it, enfeebled or destructive of our civil liberties (or both) as the case might be.

The sadist-moralists

The dehumanisation of people is one of the mechanisms by which atrocities are committed and accepted

The dehumanisation of people is one of the mechanisms by which atrocities are committed and accepted

Committing evil for goodness’ sake, writes Dalrymple,

satisfies the inner sadist and the inner moralist at the same time.

That is why, he says, the beheadings in the Middle East and recently in the Philippines are, for those who conduct them,

such fun.

The latest outrage, Dalrymple reports (though he is sceptical about its veracity), is the

freezing to death by ISIS of 45 of their fighters who retreated, or ran away, before the advance of Iraqi forces; ISIS is alleged to have put the men into a freezer in a forensic morgue in Mosul and then put the bodies by the roadside as a warning to other would-be cowards. For myself, I was a little surprised that as sophisticated an institution as a forensic morgue was still in existence and still functioning in the Islamic State.

Dalrymple is interested in a reader’s comment underneath a report of the alleged atrocity. The commenter describes ISIS as vermin, to be eradicated as such. Dalrymple warns:

There is by now good reason to fear resort to such metaphors, the dehumanisation of people being one of the mechanisms by which atrocities are both committed and accepted. We should fear our own worst thoughts and refrain from giving them expression, for far from assuaging such thoughts, expression of them only goes to make them more frequent and more extreme. By means of such thoughts and such expressions, we become a little more like those who are supposedly the occasion of them, who have also persuaded themselves that there exist human vermin in the world to be eradicated.

This is, he says,

a call to decency and self-control, not to political correctness. Political correctness is the means by which we try to control others; decency is the means by which we try to control ourselves. There is no doubt which is the easier to undertake, and the more pleasurable and gratifying. There is a considerable element of sadism in political correctness.

From Dr Johnson's dictionary

From Dr Johnson’s dictionary

Het Molenbeekprobleem

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 18.58.41Dalrymple schrijft:

We zaten op onze vlucht naar Parijs te wachten toen de annulatie van de volgende vlucht naar Brussel werd omgeroepen. Geruchten deden snel de ronde, maar de werkelijkheid bleek erger te zijn dan iemand verwachtte. Enkele uren later reden we in een taxi weg van de luchthaven Charles De Gaulle. Een radiozender wist te vertellen dat er twintig doden waren, een andere beweerde vierendertig. Eén van de zenders kondigde aan dat die avond de Eifeltoren in de Belgische kleuren zou worden verlicht. Wellicht zal er een tijdje een moratorium liggen op de Belgenmoppen in Frankrijk. Het gevoel van solidariteit is oprecht. Het is dan ook nog maar vijf maanden sinds de gruwelijkheden in Parijs.

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 18.59.33Onze chauffeur was een moslim van Noord-Afrikaanse origine. Hij was duidelijk een integere man, welwillend en eerlijk. De chauffeur was woedend op Uber, dat zijn inkomen halveerde. Wat de abstracte economische argumenten ook zijn in deze zaak, het was moeilijk om geen sympathie op te brengen voor deze man. Maar het waren de terroristen die hem meer bezighielden. ‘Het zijn allemaal criminelen’, zei hij. ‘Ze hebben allemaal in de gevangenis gezeten.’ Hij sprak geëmotioneerd. ‘Het zijn mensensmokkelaars, bandieten.’ Ik wilde er nog aan toevoegen dat het allemaal liefhebbers zijn van rapmuziek, maar ik zweeg, ook al speelde er tussen de nieuwsberichten door barokmuziek op zijn radio. ‘Dit heeft niets vandoen met religie’, sprak hij. ‘Ze gaan meteen van de misdaad naar het terrorisme.’

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 18.57.21Het leek me het beste – opdat ik de man waar ik sympathie voor koesterde niet zou ontstemmen – om te zeggen dat dit maar ten dele juist was. De islam is niet de hele oorzaak, zeker, maar kan er ook niet los van gezien worden. Uiteindelijk blazen de talrijke verarmde christelijke Congolezen in België zichzelf niet op in een metro of de luchthaven. ‘We oogsten wat we hebben gezaaid’, ging hij verder, ‘met al die bemoeienissen in Libië en Mali’. Opnieuw zag ik slechts een vaag verband, en als er al één was, dan vond ik dat niet echt flatterend voor de moslimmigranten. ‘En hoe hebben ze Molenbeek zo laten evolueren dat het een plaats werd waar het extremisme kon bloeien?’

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 18.58.59Inderdaad, hoe? En wat te doen nu het er is? Tijdens mijn bezoek aan die Brusselse wijk enkele jaren terug kon ik de gevaren al duidelijk vaststellen. Een man zoals Salah Abdeslam, de gearresteerde terrorist, zal zich daar als een vis in het water hebben gevoeld, om met Mao te spreken. Het was een perfecte schuilplaats daar, tussen de sympathisanten en de rest van de gemeenschap die men tot stilte kon intimideren. Deze sociale wereld was ondoordringbaar voor de staatsdiensten. Een kennis vertelde me dat de Belgische overheid er niet in slaagt daar belastingen te innen, hoewel het er wel lukt om de sociale gelden uit te keren uit de staatskas.

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 18.57.06Hoe houd je de vorming van getto’s zoals Molenbeek tegen en wat doe je eraan eens ze er zijn? Het antwoord van de taxichauffeur was eenvoudig: dwing ze om ergens anders te wonen. Een simpel plan, maar in de praktijk heel moeilijk. Het Europese Hof van de Mensenrechten veroordeelde onlangs Duitsland, omdat het die exacte plannen koesterde. Nadat een miljoen Syrische vluchtelingen en migranten in het land werden opgevangen, wilde de Duitse overheid de vorming van islamitische getto’s voorkomen door de immigranten te spreiden over het hele land. Het Hof oordeelde dat dit tegen de fundamentele mensenrechten van deze migranten inging, en dus verwerven ze het recht om enkele — of vele — Molenbeeks te vormen.

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Molenbeek: hoofddoeken en moslimextremisten

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 12.45.15Dalrymple schrijft over Molenbeek, de wijk waar terrorist Salah Abdeslam zich waarschijnlijk ruim vier maanden heeft schuilgehouden:

  • Alle vrouwen dragen een hoofddoek
  • Jonge mannen kleden zich als Amerikaanse rapmuziek-fans
  • De politie vertoont zich zelden in de wijk en maakt zich meer zorgen om islamitische gevoeligheden te vermijden — bijvoorbeeld door niet in het openbaar te eten tijdens de ramadan — dan om boeven op te sporen en te vangen die de wijk tot een gevaarlijk crimineel terrein maken
  • Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 12.40.47Bedrijven betalen geen belastingen, maar worden niet onderzocht op belastingontduiking
  • Prediking en samenzwering door moslim extremisten is schering en inslag, maar er wordt niets gedaan om het te stoppen. Men probeert aldus de gespannen en de broze vrede zo lang mogelijk in stand te houden
  • Sympathie voor terrorisme is de norm — of liever gezegd niemand durft openlijk zijn stem daartegen te verheffen

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Inside the mind of a Belgian suicide bomber

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 09.11.50Watching some Swiss television

for the first and possibly last time,

Dalrymple views a report on Muriel Degauque, the first white European suicide bomber. Born and raised in Charleroi, she was a child of ordinary working-class parents.

The television underlined this with lengthy shots of her dreary childhood neighbourhood. Even a few seconds looking at it on a screen was almost enough to provoke an existential crisis.

Her life was unremarkable, said the television report.

She was average at school, then worked in a bakery. People who knew her emphasised that she was an ordinary person—the last kind of person to act in such an outrageous way. There was nothing in her life out of the usual. True, she went through a period of sexual promiscuity and drug-taking, but when she converted to Islam—cut to a Muslim area of Brussels—she gave up drugs and was faithful to her Moroccan husband. So really, the commentary concluded, the whole episode was mysterious and inexplicable.

But only, writes Dalrymple,

in the sense that all human conduct is, in the last analysis, mysterious. Actually, the suicide bomber reminded me of the lost and bewildered young whom various Christian sects would look for as they scoured our streets, trawling for recruits into their all-embracing communities. These communities happened to make lots of money for their founders but really did rescue some young people from the gutter.

The television commentary

made no connection between Degauque’s promiscuity and drug abuse on the one hand and her subsequent conversion to a murderously puritanical form of Islam on the other (she wore the most extreme of veils).

Yet it requires little imagination, says Dalrymple, to make such a connection,

for one interpretation of her former life was that she sought to fill a void, a lack of purpose or interest, with sensation. Once the self-defeating nature of this was obvious to her—and nothing suggests that she lacked intelligence, despite her mediocre academic background—she became vulnerable to a ‘complete’ answer to life’s problems. Her death demonstrated, to herself and to others, how deeply (or desperately) she believed in it.

Her problem—a lack of meaning in her life—is

far from unique. Millions of people are in the same or similar position. That is why Europe cannot afford to be complacent about it.