Category Archives: weak-mindedness

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 The black armband and the mourning dress have been replaced by the teddy-bear, the unwrapped bouquet and the candle in its little glass.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

The Magnanville killer

Screen Shot 2016-06-18 at 19.17.28

Abballa entered the home of a policeman and stabbed him to death, then slit the policeman’s wife’s throat in front of her three-year-old son

Larossi Abballa, a common petty criminal like many of his kind, had, writes Dalrymple, a weak intellect which

seized on the supposed glories of religious crime, the solution to his accumulated frustrations, resentments, and personal insignificance.

Abballa had spent two years in prison for jihadist activity,

having refused to answer the questions of his accusers because he considered them, from the great height of his moral authority, to be unbelievers and evildoers to whom no duty was owed other than to kill as many of them as possible.

While in prison he acted as an evangelist for jihad, but after his release he was, says Dalrymple,

lost to follow-up, as we doctors so elegantly put it.

Sadism as godliness

Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 07.10.43Faits de petite délinquance (rien de bien méchant)

On a different planet: the Monde newspaper

Moussa Coulibaly’s record before his stabbing spree at the Jewish club: six convictions — theft, narcotics use, insulting police officers, that kind of thing. Kids will get up to that sort of stuff. Trivial really.

Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 07.11.05

How the Monde reported the story

Dalrymple writes:

Given the percentage of offences that are actually elucidated in France (as elsewhere), the chances are that he had committed at least ten times as much as he had ever been charged with, and it is also very likely that some of what he had done was a good deal more serious than anything that has come to light. The total amount of harm he did, the misery caused to or inflicted on others, was considerable. Rien de bien méchant doesn’t quite capture it.

Naughty boy: Moussa Coulibaly stabbed three soldiers outside a Jewish community centre

Naughty boy: Moussa Coulibaly stabbed three soldiers outside a Jewish community centre in Nice

Such a thing could only have been written by

someone inhabiting so utterly different a social world that he has no idea of the nature of Coulibaly’s.

The trajectory followed by Coulibaly, says Dalrymple,

is depressingly familiar. I could have written the outlines of his biography myself merely by having read what he did in Nice. As with many others of his type, his delinquency was followed by religious radicalisation that gave to his criminal impulses a patina of moral justification.

Islamism

Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 09.49.40not only gave him permission to do bad things, but made them morally obligatory. Could there be any greater pleasure in life than making others suffer for righteousness’ sake? For such as he, and those worse than he, sadism is next to godliness, or even the thing itself.

The Werther effect

is not confined to Muslim converts or radicals, though no doubt such conversion adds to the weak-mindedness of which the effect is a manifestation.