How to say Muslim without saying it

Accepting life as it is rather than as we may wish it to be, whenever a multiple murder occurs, the first word crossing our minds is ‘Muslims’.

All this fire power – why didn’t they stop him before five people went down?

This isn’t racism, jingoism or bigotry – it’s none of those things. It’s simply an inference from experience, following the same logic that Bernie Russell erroneously decried: if the sun rose yesterday, it’ll rise today.

But, to continue my quoting spree, there’s the rub. The media are actively discouraged from identifying Muslim murderers even when their identities are instantly known.

If the hacks can no longer withhold such information, they must do their utmost to stipulate that the murderer’s identity has nothing to do with Islam, which, as we’ve known for the past 1,400 years, is a religion of peace.

Even if the murderer screams “Allahu akbar” in the act, his motives have to be not religious but personal, most likely caused by a mental disorder of some kind.

Finally, after the media have lawyered up and taken a deep breath, they may admit mournfully that yes, the murderer was indeed a Muslim. However, like a criminal under interrogation, they won’t own up to anything the interrogator doesn’t already know. So a Muslim, yes. But not a Muslim terrorist – unless you can prove otherwise.

This pattern recurs at a level of frequency reaching mathematical certainty, as it has done following yesterday’s massacre at the headquarters of Paris police, a grenade’s throw from Notre Dame. An IT worker employed there went on a stabbing rampage, killing three officers and one administrator, and badly wounding another before himself being shot to death.

The only information released in the immediate aftermath stated that the killer lived north of Paris, that there was no terrorist motive involved, and the perpetrator simply had a “moment of madness”.

However, people may be denied information but not the use of their mental faculties. A slight exertion of those, and the jigsaw pieces invariably come together in a complete picture.

The British and other Westerners haven’t yet honed the art of reading between the lines as much as the Soviets used to, but they are getting there. Considering that the Soviets had to develop such roundabout literacy in conditions of no free press whatsoever, this says something about the West that we’d rather not hear.

In this case, it was as if the text between the lines had been written in lemon juice. Hold it to heat, and it gradually becomes legible.

A moment of madness? Well, madness it might have been, but it certainly lasted longer than a moment.

First, the murderer had to go out and buy a large ceramic knife that would beat the metal detectors at the entrance to the police HQ. Then he had to conceal the weapon on his person, nonchalantly carry it through the check and then choose his targets carefully – no mean task in an office full of armed people.

If that’s not careful premeditation, I don’t know what is. So there goes one media canard.

Then what’s that reference to the north of Paris as the murderer’s residence? That area is heavily, though not exclusively, Muslim, so a careful reader would have discerned the first hint at the religion that dare not speak its name.

Another hint is the preemptive denial of a terrorist motive. Why post it in the first place?

Issuing such a denial before all the facts were known was bound to make our between-the-lines reader take a leaf out of my book and again quote Shakespeare: “The lady doth protest too much, methinks”.

In effect, the media, both French and ours, said “Muslim” before they actually said it. We understood, and what came next was merely a confirmation.

The murderer has been identified as Michael Harpon, 45, who recently converted to Islam and married a Muslim woman. Well, what do you know, who could have guessed.

The rest of it is still left for our powers of detection to unravel. According to the police, Harpon “was involved in an argument with someone and then erupted in anger, targeting other police colleagues before being neutralised.”

It’s that moment of madness again, and it still doesn’t wash.

I never worked at any one place for as long as Harpon worked at the Paris Police Prefecture, almost 20 years.

But even so, I “erupted in anger” on several occasions. Once, in the early days of my career, I even punched a (much bigger) colleague after he grabbed my shirt front. Yet it never occurred to me to keep a weapon in my desk or on my person to add emphasis to my anger.

Even less likely would I have been to resort to all kinds of subterfuge to smuggle a knife into the building just in case I had a rush of blood to my head. Really, the anger story simply doesn’t work.

As to the absence of a terrorist motive, we’ll have to define terrorism. The standard definition is a criminal act committed for a specific cause pursued by a group to which the criminal belongs.

Then I’d submit that any murder committed by a Muslim for any motive not involving real madness, pecuniary gain or a crime passionel is a terrorist act – especially if perpetrated by a recent convert in the throes of neophyte zeal.

After all, Islam decrees the murder of infidels in hundreds of Koran verses, and a good Muslim must obey the command on pain of perdition, either in this life or the next one. Those 70 virgins don’t come free.

This is the advantage of writing a blog rather than newspapers articles. No paper anywhere in the West would run the piece you’ve just read. Their secular God is athirst – and he demands piety as insistently as Allah.  

BBC impartial? That’s a good one

Whatever indiscretion the BBC Breakfast presenter Naga Munchetty committed, what its former head, Michael Grade, has done is much worse.

I’d go on Naga’s show again, for the sheer pleasure of spending half an hour in her company

Miss Munchetty went beyond her remit by describing President Trump as racist for the advice he proffered to some hard-left congresswomen: “go back to the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came”.

Herself being of off-white heritage, Miss Munchetty explained her outburst on air by her experience of having had the same thing said to her. That left a deep emotional trauma because everything does these days.

But I understand how she feels: Miss Munchetty comes from Streatham, an area that may merit similar descriptors to those Trump used, and the prospect of returning there from the stratospheric heights of her present status must be nightmarish.

No wonder she described herself as “absolutely furious”, adding that many other people must feel the same way – even, one assumes, those who don’t come from Streatham.

At first, the BBC censured Miss Munchetty for compromising journalistic impartiality, for which the Beeb is so widely known among Guardian readers.

Following an outcry from all the predictable quarters, Auntie then rescinded its reprimand because, when all is said and done, calling anybody a racist is everyone’s sacred right.

Personally, I would have rescinded it for another reason: I tend to allow much latitude to women who look as gorgeous as Miss Munchetty, even though I thereby brand myself as a sexist and every other -ist and -phobe in our ever-expanding glossary.

Once I was a guest on her show and found her charming and courteous, even though she charmingly and courteously shut me up every time I tried to suggest that the main purpose of prison is not to rehabilitate but to punish.

Now Lord Gates, true to the ideals the BBC holds dear, has written an article full of compassionate understanding for both Miss Munchetty and her employer. Using the rigorous intellectual standards one expects from our media executives, he unequivocally supported Miss Munchetty, the BBC for censuring her and, again, the BBC for rescinding the censure. 

“The BBC has a paramount duty to be impartial,” he explains. However, “It has always been the case… that racism was not covered by the impartiality guidelines, because there is no defence for racial discrimination: it is not to be treated as a matter of opinion.”

Now, these two sentences amount to one excellent reason to remove the BBC’s charter and let the network fend for itself in the rough-and-tumble of commercial broadcasting.

To begin with, anyone who thinks the BBC unbiased must have been enjoying a lifelong sabbatical in the outer reaches of our galaxy. The Beeb is about as impartial on every key issue as Lenin was on capitalists, Hitler on Jews or Crosland on private education.

Some 90 per cent of its staffers vote Labour or another left-wing party at every election, and the only newspaper that enjoys the riches of BBC recruitment advertising is The Guardian, our leftmost broadsheet.

Thus, if the Beeb had an opening for an old, truculently conservative writer of Russian descent, I wouldn’t know about it because I never sully my hands with that awful publication.

The odd token Tory apart, the network’s talking heads consistently take the liberal position on Brexit, climate change, abortion, immigration, the NHS – you name it.

If you didn’t know that the BBC is staffed with Labour voters, you’d guess it within a nanosecond of watching any of its talk shows or, for that matter, news programmes (bias can skew not only the coverage but also the selection of the news items to be covered).

That much is so evident it’s barely worth discussing. What is, however, noteworthy is Lord Grade’s it-goes-without-saying statement that only racism isn’t covered by the impartiality guidelines.

That racism, properly defined, is reprehensible indeed goes without saying. However, the parenthetic qualification is necessary because, like all modern -isms and -phobias, it’s often defined too loosely and broadly.

The definition goes well beyond racial discrimination or supremacism; it extends, for example, to a simple statement that races may be different or that some are disproportionately represented in the prison population. Sometimes the word is used simply to demonise any conservative, even one who has never opined on race in his life.

Such perversions apart, racism qua racism is a mortal sin. But surely it’s neither the only nor even the worst one. Why should it enjoy the exclusive status of the sole mortal sin not covered by BBC impartiality guidelines, such as they are?

A communist politician in all but name may go on a BBC show and froth at the mouth about everything that defines Britain, monarchy, free enterprise, law enforcement, defence, laws, whatever, and the BBC is duty-bound to stay objective.

He may then describe the entire history of the country as nothing but oppression, violence, racism and any other -ism or –phobia, and a BBC journalist must remain soft-spoken, non-judgemental and poker-faced.

But branding the leader of a friendly nation as racist – with or without reason – is par for the course. No partiality anywhere in sight, not as defined by the BBC.

If Lord Grade could think before writing, he wouldn’t have led the BBC, nor could he have been employed there in even a lesser capacity. Because, if the BBC were led by honest, serious thinkers, it wouldn’t be the liberal flagship it undoubtedly is.

How smart was Hume, anyway?

An intelligent man is perfectly capable of making a wrong argument, but never a weak one.

A brilliant essayist, but…

If you accept this distinction, then you have to ask yourself the question in the title. For Hume (d. 1776) decided to find an intellectual basis for his atheism (or, if you insist, agnosticism – a distinction without a difference).

In the process he committed a fallacy that philosophers call ‘category mistake’ – shifting things that belong in one category into another (e.g. “I’m pursued by money problems and the odd stray dog.”) Serious thinkers avoid such basic errors.

Hume should have stayed within the category of observable, or perhaps scientific, facts and rejected outright any terms of debate that didn’t belong there.

For example, he could have said he considered religion a silly superstition that both began and ended with an act of blind faith. If his opponents chose to believe that nonsense, it was their privilege. But no rational debate about a patently irrational proposition was possible.

Any competent debater could have then engaged Hume on that battleground and trounced him, although Hume would never have acknowledged defeat.

Even now, when science is immeasurably greater than at that time, it fails not only to answer what Dostoyevsky called ‘accursed questions’, but indeed even to ask them. Dishonest scientists try and fail. Honest ones shrug and say: “Let’s not go there – we can’t know such things.”

They are right: they can’t know them because they use a wrong cognitive system. But at least they avoid the category mistake into which Hume blundered so blithely.

He used a methodological trick wielded by many historical personages, from Socrates to Stalin: that of asking himself a question to which he already knew the answer. Hume in effect said: “Fine, let’s assume that God exists.”

On the basis of that assumption, which he knew a priori to be wrong, he then asked a series of questions that have since been repeated by such worthy organisations as Lenin’s League of the Militant Godless. (Their arguments carried the extra weight of being backed up with firing squads.)  

The questions Hume asked and considered rhetorical were: If God is merciful and good, then how does he permit evil? If it’s beyond his control, then how omnipotent is he? And if he doesn’t know what’s going on, is he really omniscient?

In other words, as far as he was concerned, the existence of evil proved the non-existence of God. Alas, Hume didn’t realise that he had strayed out of one category into another, and now had to engage his opponents on the ground of their choice.

For, by allowing the possibility of God’s existence, if only hypothetically, he entered a categorically different system of thought and had to accept its terms. In response, a Christian thinker no longer had to wade through a swamp of material facts. He could now field Hume’s questions within the confines of Christian doctrines.

The two doctrines that dismiss Hume’s questions scornfully are those of original sin and free will.

God gave man, as personified by Adam and Eve, a free choice between virtue and sin. Our progenitors chose wrong: they refused to obey God, and hence mankind was stigmatised with original sin corrupting not only man but the whole natural order.

God’s subsequent Incarnation as Jesus Christ, fully divine and fully human, his death on the cross and Resurrection established a new covenant between God and man.

Christ’s sacrifice wiped man’s slate clean of original sin. Yet as the evidence shows that man didn’t become pristine as a result, a second sin, Mark II as it were, must have replaced the first one, and chronologically this substitution could only have occurred after original sin had been redeemed.

Logically, this must have been the sin of rejecting Christ. That offence isn’t identical to original sin, though neither is it dissimilar to it. Both, after all, represent rejection of God: the first by disobeying and the second by failing to recognise him. If original sin Mark I was disobedience and therefore rejection, then Mark II is rejection and therefore disobedience.  

At the centre of the new covenant is God’s reiteration of his greatest gift to man: free will, the ability to make a free choice between good and evil. For that gift to have any meaning, evil has to exist.

Free will thus becomes the most important possession of man, and it can only remain so if we stand to gain from a correct choice or suffer the consequences of a wrong one. In fact, if our will weren’t free, if we were but puppets on God’s string, one would struggle to see why God would have bothered to make us so different from animals, or indeed to create us at all.

If we accept as a given that God loves us, then we must find it hard to explain how such love could have been expressed by removing evil and thereby depriving us of our freedom, making it irrelevant. God’s is the absolute freedom, but since we are created in his image, ours has to be at least a relative one. Only God can be totally free, but that doesn’t mean man has to be totally enslaved.

All this is basic theodicy, and its precepts were formulated by great men, from Paul to Augustine to Aquinas. They created Christian theology and then spun out of it a comprehensive system of philosophical thought.

Hume with his Socratic questions barged into that system and paid the heavy price of coming across as intellectually vulgar – at least within its confines. As Clint Eastwood said in one of his films, “a man should be aware of his limitations”.

P.S. I’d like to apologise to President Macron of France. The other day I inadvertently stated that he plans to replace the national anthem, La Marseillaise, with the hymn O Come, Emmanuel.

Those vegans take a good punch

Imagine you take your family for a relaxed lunch at Pizza Express. Then, just as you’re about to tuck into your anchovies-and-pepperoni, a gang of scrofulous youngsters burst in.

Well-done, mate, even if you are a bit infra dig

They wave pictures of pigs and cows adorned with captions “I want to live”. How do they know, you wonder, that those particular animals aren’t tired of life and just want to end it all? Are the youngsters fluent in pig?

Then, most incongruously, they scream: “It’s not food, it’s violence”. That only deepens your consternation. You’re convinced that your pepperoni is food, no matter what the obviously deranged youngsters claim. A pig might have been turned into pepperoni by a violent method, but that doesn’t make your pizza taste any worse.

Dismay may then give way to fear. You realise your restaurant has been taken over by animal rights activists, who are ideologically twinned with anti-fur gangs that have been known to kill people while saving minks.

How do you know they won’t produce weapons more tangible than pictures? Say, homemade nail bombs? Or bottles of battery acid? The answer is, you don’t. So what will you do?

I suppose that depends on what kind of person you are. Anyway, the situation in question isn’t hypothetical: this is what actually happened in Brighton yesterday.

One of the customers was a big man sporting a shaven head and the kind of feral scowl one often sees these days on the faces of our permanently enraged masses.

He shouted at the cretinous fanatics: “You’re scaring these people, f*** off now.” Yet they showed no intention to comply. One girl, about half his size, confronted the man with courage worthy of a better cause.

At that point Shaven Head punched her in the face, putting a fair amount of pow into the blow. Nice shoulder rotation and decent weight transfer, although he didn’t screw his fist in at impact to add even more wallop.

Still, the cross was decent, and it’s testimony to the benefits of the vegan diet and also to the amount of adrenaline coursing through the girl’s veins that she didn’t go down, nor even took a standing eight count.

The pugnacious man clearly had more punches left in him, but he was restrained by other customers and the restaurant staff. Some customers even tried to reason with the youngsters, which was like trying to talk a rabid dog out of biting you.

Hence they continued their demonstration, this time complete with posters advocating Rose’s Law, designed to create an animal bill of rights. Having had their fun, they walked out, chanting: “What do we want? Animal liberation. When do we want it? Now.”

Anyway, would you have got physical with those fanatics? Would I? Now, my pugnacious days are behind me, and even when they weren’t I was economical with my punches, saving them for special occasions, mainly involving self-defence.

Also, at the risk of sounding unfashionably snobbish, I suspect I’m a more civilised man than Shaved Head. In fact, his face showed few of the benefits accrued by mankind over the past few millennia.

However, I admit I would have been sorely tempted to let my fists do the talking in that situation. I might not have done it, but I would have been tempted. And if the red mist in front of my eyes hadn’t dissipated, I might have yielded to that temptation.

Of course, if police got involved, they’d take the fanatics’ side. After all, I would have acted in a violent manner, while they were only signalling virtue, if perhaps over-enthusiastically.

My objection would have been that they were committing murderous violence against our civilisation, but I’m sure it would have fallen on deaf ears. Such arguments cut no ice with today’s lot, even if they wear blue uniforms.

The loathsome youngsters were primed by the subversive group called Direct Action Everywhere (DxE). I’d relax somewhat if ‘Direct’ were preceded by ‘Non-Violent’, but it isn’t – they want to keep their options open.

A DxE spokesman explained that: “We must stand together against speciesism, but some are not ready to hear our message of equality and justice… This kind of response will not deter us, we will not back down in the face of repression; not by the public, not by the police, nor the industries they protect…”   

Speciesism, in case you’re wondering, is insistence that man is inherently superior to animals, and that only humans are moral agents entitled to rights and justice.

I for one am a confirmed speciesist, although these people diminish my belief in the inherent superiority of humans to beasts. Perhaps my specesism ought to be qualified: most people are superior to animals, though some, such as DxE members, aren’t.

Perhaps they hold their views because they detect kinship between themselves and pigs. Their protests may well be caused not by political activism but by honest self-assessment.

At this point, a more conscientious writer than I would put together a cogent argument against that nonsense, complete with copious biblical references, appeals to history, tradition, physiology and whatnot.

I must admit to having done so myself in the past, on a few occasions. But any such arguments would be useless: a right cross is the only possible remedy against murderous fanaticism.

Those Pizza Express invaders and their ilk are rabid rebels in search of a cause. They doubtless see themselves as intrepid fighters, whereas in fact they are deracinated pygmies driven by hatred of our civilisation.

That animus is primary; the cause isn’t so much secondary as tertiary. It can be animal rights today, anti-nuke tomorrow, climate change the day after, anti-capitalism the day after that. Their bile will always find a vessel to flow in.

They must be stopped, and you know the authorities won’t do it. Not the government, not the police – no one. Those whose remit is to protect our civilisation feel compelled to sympathise with any cause prejudicial to it.

That’s why, much as it pains me to say so, Shaven Head has shown the way. I haven’t conducted a private poll, but there still must be more sane people about than incensed fanatics.

Perhaps, if each of us were to punch in the face anyone who as much as hints at the possibility that a pig must have equal rights with people, or suggests that both global warming and AIDS come from an establishment cabal, or even uses the words ‘our planet’, this violence against everything we hold dear will stop.

And even if it doesn’t, we’d know we did the right thing.