How does one protest against violence in a faraway land? Why, by looting shops at home of course.
It’s not only the best way but in fact the only way to express one’s political philosophy or register disagreement. We all know that.
That’s why the other day Londoners and Brummies, feeling that the British government isn’t doing enough to stop the massacre of Christians in Iraq, armed themselves with clubs, bricks and torches.
They then went on a rampage, looting every grocery shop that sells Halal food, which basically means every grocery shop in some areas.
That done, the crowd proceeded to loot supermarkets selling Halal meat, which again means all of them. Most, however, do so surreptitiously, without tagging their meat as religiously pure.
That made it even worse. Indignant crowds felt justified in thinking that supermarket chains used the subterfuge to express their support for anti-Christian massacres in a most perfidious manner.
Attacking a few supermarkets thus made a morally valid political statement. It also sent a clear message: if you sell Halal food, you are directly complicit in the beheading of Christians. You’ll therefore be violently punished.
The supermarkets got the message and removed offensive items from their shelves. Job done.
Their adrenalin flow receding, the looters then went home proud of their accomplishment. Though they hadn’t saved any Iraqi Christians, at least they had mollified their aching collective conscience, thus adding a whole new meaning to retail therapy.
Sounds insane, doesn’t? Not only did nothing of the sort happen, but it takes a particularly morbid imagination to think up such a scenario, wouldn’t you say?
Yet replace Halal with Kosher, and what has actually happened in Birmingham and London isn’t a far cry from the product of my admittedly morbid imagination.
Anti-Semitic mobs – sorry, we’re supposed to call them anti-Israel protesters – wreaked havoc at a Tesco supermarket in Birmingham and laid siege to a Sainsbury’s in London’s Holborn (not, incidentally, a manifestly Muslim area).
Threatened with a Kristallnacht-style pogrom, the management wisely removed Kosher foods from display, handing the mob an easy victory.
That the mob was animated by hatred of Jews in general, rather than by any disagreement with the foreign policy of Israel’s Likud government can’t be gainsaid.
Even assuming for the sake of argument that any attempt by Israel to defend itself is immoral, no one in his right mind would argue that the sins of that Middle Eastern state are visited on Jews all over the world.
By the same token, Middle Eastern Muslims’ atrocities against Christians don’t make every Muslim in Birmingham or London guilty by association.
However, if one were radical enough to make such a claim, it would be more justified than holding all Jews responsible for Israel’s bombing those underprivileged terrorists in Gaza.
Israel doesn’t bomb Gaza for ideological or religious reasons. Those poor Palestinians are killed not because they are Muslims but because they either are terrorists themselves or are used as human shields to protect terrorists.
Hence the bombings aren’t an ideology at work. They are the desperate acts of a nation fighting against extinction.
However, those IS Muslims in Iraq are beheading Christians for no wrongdoing other than being Christian or, to be more exact, not being Muslim. Hence lashing out against all Muslims anywhere would have some conceivable, if no less deplorable, justification.
Yet there are no pickets outside Muslim shops in England, much less any attempt to punish the purveyors of Halal food. No one is painting offensive institutional symbols on the shop fronts in Brick Lane and Northend Road.
While welcoming such civilised behaviour on the part of English Christians, pious or nominal, one can decry the brutality of English Muslims so much more vehemently.
It’s clear that, just as their co-religionists in Iraq are driven solely by hatred of Christians and other non-Muslims, the rioters in Birmingham and London are motivated by hatred of Jews – not by a burning desire to express their disagreement with Israel’s foreign policy.
Anti-Semitic loathing is the reason; Israel in Gaza but a pretext. It’s something that, in the rioters’ eyes, goes a long way towards legitimising the resentment bubbling just under the surface and seeking an outlet.
Unless decisive action is taken, before long every Jewish or Jewish-owned shop in England will be attacked and looted. Shards of glass on the pavements will glisten as brightly as they did in 1938 Germany, and violence will be as brutal as it was then.
At least the authorities in St Louis, Missouri, had the courage to respond to similar, if differently motivated, events by declaring a curfew and calling in the National Guard.
There too the urgent need to seek and destroy splashed out because the police provided a convenient excuse. There too it’s really sociopathic, anomic brutality that’s the reason in search of a pretext.
So what will be our equivalent to the summoning of the National Guard? I can’t even imagine.
My crystal ball would be considerably clearer if events unfolded to the hypothetical scenario I outlined at the beginning. If crowds of outraged Christians attacked Halal shops, it would be easy to picture the government’s response.
Every paper in the land, right, left or centre, would be spewing righteous indignation at such racist beastliness. Armed police units would be put on the streets with instructions to do whatever is necessary to stop the riots and punish the rioters.
The looting of Halal butchers would be taken not just as an attack on a religious minority but as a gross affront against every progressive ideal everyone is supposed to hold sacred. The CPO would be instructed by the government to pass prison sentences without mercy or delay.
Far be it from me to suggest that the absence of such a response to the anti-Jewish riots betokens a latent anti-Semitic animus on HMG’s part. I’m sure there must be another reason. I just can’t think offhand what it might be.