Category Archives: Theodore Dalrymple

Young Muslim males in Britain have a problem of personal, cultural, and national identity

Dalrymple writes that these young men are

  • deeply secularised, with little religious faith, even if most will admit to a belief in God. Their interest in Islam is slight. They do not pray or keep Ramadan (except if it brings them some practical advantage, such as postponement of a court appearance).
  • Their tastes are for the most part those of non-Muslim lower-class young men. They dress indistinguishably from their white and black contemporaries, and affect the same hairstyles and mannerisms, including the vulpine lope of the slums. Gold chains, the heavier the better, and gold front teeth, without dental justification, are symbols of their success in the streets, which is to say of illicit enrichment.
  • Many of them, unlike the sons of Hindus and Sikhs who immigrated into Britain at the same time as their parents, take drugs, including heroin.
  • They drink.
  • They indulge in casual sex.
  • They make nightclubs the focus of their lives.
  • Work and careers are at best a painful necessity, a slow and inferior means of obtaining the money for their distractions.

But if in many respects their tastes and behaviour are indistinguishable from those of underclass white males, there are nevertheless clear and important differences.

  1. Whatever the similarity between them and their white counterparts in their taste for sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll, they do not mix with young white men, even in the neighborhoods devoted to the satisfaction of their tastes. They are in parallel with the whites, rather than intersecting with them.
  2. Young Muslim women are absent from the resorts of mass distraction. However similar young Muslim men might be in their tastes to young white men, they would be horrified, and indeed turn extremely violent, if their sisters comported themselves as young white women do. They satisfy their sexual needs with prostitutes and those whom they quite openly call ‘white sluts’. And they do not have to suffer much sexual frustration in an environment where people decide on sexual liaisons within seconds of acquaintance. However secular the tastes of the young Muslim men, they strongly wish to maintain the male dominance they have inherited from their parents. A sister who has the temerity to choose a boyfriend for herself, or who even expresses a desire for an independent social life, is likely to suffer a beating, followed by surveillance of Stasi-like thoroughness. The young men instinctively understand that their inherited system of male domination—which provides them, by means of forced marriage, with sexual gratification at home while simultaneously freeing them from domestic chores and allowing them to live completely Westernised lives outside the home, including further sexual adventures into which their wives cannot inquire—is strong but brittle, rather as communism was: it is an all or nothing phenomenon, and every breach must meet swift punishment.

Thus young Muslim males have a strong motive for maintaining an identity apart. And since people

rarely like to admit low motives for their behaviour, such as the wish to maintain a self-gratifying dominance, these young Muslims need a more elevated justification for their conduct toward women. They find it, of course, in a residual Islam: not the Islam of onerous duties, rituals, and prohibitions, which interferes so insistently in day-to-day life, but in an Islam of residual feeling, which allows them a sense of moral superiority to everything around them, including women, without in any way cramping their style.

This Islam, Dalrymple explains,

contains little that is theological, spiritual, or even religious, but it nevertheless exists in the mental economy as what anatomists call a ‘potential space’. A potential space occurs where two tissues or organs are separated by smooth membranes that are normally close together, but that can be separated by an accumulation of fluid such as pus if infection or inflammation occurs. And, of course, such inflammation readily occurs in the minds of young men who easily believe themselves to be ill-used, and who have been raised on the thin gruel of popular Western culture without an awareness that any other kind of Western culture exists.

Islamism in Britain is not the product of Islam alone

Dalrymple notes that some British Muslims succeed in life, a fact which is interpreted backwards:

not that Muslims can succeed, but that generally they cannot, because British society is inimical to Muslims.

In coming to this conclusion, Dalrymple points out, young Muslims

would only be adopting the logic that has driven Western social policy for so long: that any difference in economic and social outcome between groups is the result of social injustice and adverse discrimination. The premises of multiculturalism do not even permit asking whether reasons internal to the groups might account for differences in outcomes.

This sociological view is peddled consistently by the poll-tax-funded British state broadcaster, which states, for example, that Muslims ‘continue to face discrimination’. Thus,

  • if more Muslims than any other group possess no educational qualifications, even though the hurdles for winning such qualifications have constantly fallen, it can only be because of discrimination—though a quarter of all medical students in Britain are of Indian subcontinental descent. It can have nothing to do with the widespread—and illegal—practice of refusing to allow girls to continue at school, which the Press scarcely mentions, and which the educational authorities rarely if ever investigate
  • if youth unemployment among Muslims is two-and-a half-times the rate among whites, it can be only because of discrimination—though youth unemployment among Hindus is  lower than among whites (and this even though many young Hindus complain of being mistaken for Muslims)

Dalrymple comments:

A constant and almost unchallenged emphasis on ‘social justice’, the negation of which is ‘discrimination’, can breed only festering embitterment. Where the definition of justice is entitlement by virtue of group existence rather than reward for individual effort, a radical overhaul of society will appear necessary to achieve such justice.

Islamism in Britain, Dalrymple emphasises, is

the product of the meeting of Islam with an entrenched native mode of thinking about social problems.

De Vrijheid-laureaat

The doctor-writer photographed by Thomas Sweertvaegher

Clad in a T-shirt, a purveyor of drivel to the masses

Dalrymple points out that Mark Zuckerberg

dresses like an incompletely washed slob.

Perhaps, Dalrymple suggests, Zuckerberg

rather fears to appear very different from the masses, in case they get the idea that his product is but a cynical ploy to exploit them.

Slobbery, Dalrymple notes,

is expressive either of an indifference towards others or of an active desire to insult them. It is the expression of a vanity of a different and far worse kind from that of dandyism. A slob is all-important to himself.

As there is slobbery in clothes,

so there is slobbery in manners, which often masquerades as informality.

One possible explanation of the refusal to don more dignified attire

is the desire to remain not forever young, but forever adolescent. Ever since the 1950s, adolescence has been regarded as the peak of human experience, and everything afterwards downhill. If adolescents dress in a certain way, then dressing in a certain way keeps you adolescent.

Speaking power to truth

Political correctness is not a neurodegenerative disease, the doctor explains,

but it might as well be, so devastating is its effect on intellection. It appears to be infective, spreading from brain to brain. It is more like a form of chronic mass hysteria.

A little like our economic system, it must be forever expanding to survive.

The capitalist system, Dalrymple reminds us, must

stimulate new desires in consumers and make those desires as quickly as possible seem like needs, without the satisfaction of which life is rendered impossible.

Similarly, political correctness,

to extend its soft-totalitarian hold over the population, must discover new injustices to set right — by a mixture of censorship, language reform, and legal privileges for minorities. The meaning of life for the politically correct is political agitation.

Dalrymple points out that the greater the violation of common sense, the better.

It is like communist propaganda of old: the greater the disparity between the claims of that propaganda and the everyday experience of those at whom it is directed, the greater the humiliation suffered by the latter — especially when they were obliged to repeat it, thus destroying their ability to resist, even in the secret corners of their heart.

That is why the politically correct

insist that everyone use their language: unlike what the Press is supposed to do, the politically correct speak power to truth.

All that is necessary for humbug to triumph is for honest men to say nothing

The politically correct, Dalrymple notes,

never seem to become bored with their thoughts. This leads to a dilemma for those who oppose political correctness, for to be constantly arguing against bores is to become a bore oneself. On the other hand, not to argue against them is to let them win by default. To argue against rubbish is to immerse oneself in rubbish; not to argue against rubbish is to allow it to triumph.

A wealth of absurdity in one small booklet

screen-shot-2017-02-04-at-14-00-13At the British Medical Association (the physicians’ labour union), certain persons whom Dalrymple describes as being among

the little popes of political correctness

have, he says, consigned the term cleaning ladies to

the semantic equivalent of the Index Librorum Prohibitorum.

screen-shot-2017-02-04-at-14-01-33However, he notes that

even if they were henceforth to be called cleaning persons rather than cleaning ladies, I doubt that the BMA would press for equal wages with them. All persons are equal, but some persons are more equal than others.

In the BMA pamphlet A guide to effective communication: inclusive language in the workplace, doctors are instructed not to use the expression expectant mothers but rather pregnant people. Dalrymple comments:

The BMA now lives, or wants to live, in a world in which taking offence is its own justification: the offended, or yet-to-be offended, have taken over from the victims as the world’s heroes.

screen-shot-2017-02-04-at-14-03-04

‘The British Medical Association, of which I am an undistinguished member, recently published a booklet entitled A Guide to Effective Communication, which I strongly suspected would be as helpful as a booklet entitled Improving Athletic Performance by Cutting the Achilles Tendon. I was right.’

screen-shot-2017-02-04-at-09-41-38

‘Whether anyone has ever met an expectant transsexual offended by the term expectant mother is not stated; nor is the possibility aired that, if such a being actually existed, he or she should simply be told not to be so silly.’

screen-shot-2017-02-04-at-14-10-05

‘Long experience of apparatchiks has taught me that anyone who prefaces what he is about to say—his communication—with the words “I am committed to…” will soon proceed to something unpleasant hiding in his thicket of polysyllabic euphemism. If a hospital manager, for example, says “I am committed to…” (or, even worse, “I am passionately committed to…”), you know that something is about to be closed down and its staff (except for the managers) sacked.’

'No words of mine can do justice to the wealth of absurdity that the framers of this booklet have managed to pack into fourteen pages, which has come in for well-merited mockery.'

‘No words of mine can do justice to the wealth of absurdity that the framers of this booklet have managed to pack into fourteen pages, which has come in for well-merited mockery.’

An eyesore in Lima

screen-shot-2017-01-22-at-08-36-22Dalrymple writes of the æsthetic shambles that is the Universidad de Ingeniería y Tecnología:

The building is awkward, angular, without overall unity; its spaces are mean, narrow, and oppressive and its proportions a mess. And this is all before the concrete, for the moment pristine, begins to deteriorate.

One of the architects, an Irishwoman, says of the atrocity she has perpetrated:

We’re interested in weight. For us, the enjoyment of architecture is the sense of weight being borne down or supported, the feeling of moving with the forces of gravity. It’s a very primal need.

Architect Shelley McNamara: interested in weight

Architect Shelley McNamara: weight problem

Dalrymple comments:

I have noticed that when an artist or architect begins by saying ‘I’m interested in…’ bilge is sure to follow, as the night the day. What does it mean, that the enjoyment of architecture is the sense of weight being borne down or supported? Does anyone see the Taj Mahal for the first time and say, ‘Oh, what a wonderful sense of weight being borne down or supported’?

The problem, he says, is that

the pseudo-cerebrations of architects now take precedence over taste.

screen-shot-2017-01-22-at-09-00-23screen-shot-2017-01-22-at-09-02-28screen-shot-2017-01-22-at-09-03-54

Postcards from Loughborough

screen-shot-2017-01-15-at-11-17-43Evil studies and parties here

Arriving in Loughborough, in Leicestershire in the English Midlands, Dalrymple takes a taxi from the station to the far side of the university. He asks the taxi-driver what the students are like. The taxi-driver says:

They’re evil bastards.

screen-shot-2017-01-15-at-11-19-34Dalrymple is taken aback by this forthrightness, even though as he points out (by way of understatement),

I cannot be accused of being dewy-eyed about humanity.

Dalrymple describes the taxi-driver’s judgment as

spontaneous, deeply felt, and obviously the fruit of what sociologists call lived experience.

screen-shot-2017-01-15-at-11-10-35

The Loughborough Taxi Association rank

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The caesaropapists

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 caesaropapists, 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 cesaropapista, 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