We were having dinner with friends last night, eating, drinking, laughing, telling off-colour jokes and at times even attempting serious conversation.
That’s what one does on a Saturday night. My preference is to do so at home: restaurants these days are too noisy to tell off-colour jokes or especially to attempt serious conversation.
Some others don’t mind that though; they like the buzz, the atmosphere of joyous exuberance. Why, they don’t even mind what passes for music these days drowning conversation in tribal, electronically enhanced din. Well, de gustibus… and all that.
Just as we were eating and drinking, thousands of others, mostly young people, were having a good time at the hundreds of restaurants and pubs in the recently gentrified Borough Market area of London, some six miles from us.
And then, at around 10 pm, as we tucked into our pudding, they weren’t having a good time any longer. Three men drove their white van through crowds at London Bridge, then crashed the van at Borough Market and jumped out brandishing 12-inch knives.
They then broke into restaurants and pubs and began slashing people’s throats. Eight minutes later they were dead, shot by armed police. Their rampage didn’t last very long. But long enough.
Seven dead, 48 in hospital with variously awful injuries, many walking wounded, river police looking for more bodies in the Thames. Saturday nights in London aren’t what they used to be.
Reporting on this witches’ Sabbath, the BBC at first didn’t say a word about the murderers, other than that they were men, three in number and probably terrorists. Others reported they were ‘of Mediterranean origin’.
Now the Mediterranean area, the cradle of our civilisation, is rather large. So what were they? Italians? Frenchmen? Greeks? Spaniards? Israelis?
And only the morning papers mentioned in passing, without making a big deal of it, that the murderers were “jihadists” who, for the benefit of the predominantly Anglophone audience, replaced the Arabic battle cry “Allahu Akbar!” with “This is for Allah!”.
Oh, so they were that kind of Mediterranean? Who could have thought.
Everyone, is the answer to this facetious question, especially since this is a third such incident in England over the past 10 weeks.
Everyone knows who drives HGVs through human flesh, slashes throats, sprays streets with AK rounds, blows up crowded buses and pop concerts. Not people of some nebulous Mediterranean origin, nor probable terrorists, nor even jihadists or Islamists, although here we’re getting warmer.
Muslims. That dread M-word that our politicians and journalists can’t bring themselves to utter. Devout followers of Islam, who do murder because Islam tells them to do it.
Yet no public figure has the guts even to say this out loud, much less do something about it. Quite the opposite.
Mercifully, no one has yet described Islam as a religion of peace, but we can expect that clarification before the day is out, although the M-word still won’t cross anyone’s lips.
Meanwhile Theresa May complimented Londoners on their bravery in the face of a “potential act of terrorism” and expressed sympathy with those “who are caught up in these dreadful events.” She later talked about the “single evil ideology of Islamist extremism”, whatever that means. Certainly not the M-word.
Comrade Corbyn, who hates Jews but has never met a terrorist he couldn’t love, regretted the “brutal and shocking incidents” and thanked the emergency services.
The Muslim mayor of London Sadiq Khan repeated his party leader’s statement almost word for word.
All good, appropriate and predictable. But where’s the rage directed at the true culprits? Where, above all, is an answer to the perennial question invariably asked by the pragmatic English: “What are we going to do about it?”
This question is neither answered nor even asked. Not ever, not in any tangible manner pointing at a real solution – and certainly not four days before the general election that Comrade Corbyn, who hates Jews but loves Hamas and Hezbollah, may conceivably win.
Churchill, speaking at a time when Soviet-made German bombs rained on London, expressed sympathy for the victims too. But he also said: “We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”
He missed a golden opportunity to deliver a prescient oration presaging the rhetoric favoured by his successors:
“I join all of you in deploring the ghastly atrocities perpetrated upon London. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. However, at this moment of grief, I must caution you against blaming all Germans, or indeed all Nazis, for these dreadful events. The people dropping bombs on the East End of London are not acting as Germans, nor indeed as Nazis. They are Nazi-ists, the black, or rather brown, sheep in the healthy flock of the great German nation and the ideology it happens to favour at the moment. This ideology may be at odds with everything this realm espouses, but it is as deserving of respect in the spirit of diversity.”
Acts of Muslim terrorism are recurring with monotonous regularity, and I have to follow suit by saying the same things over and over again: we’re at war, different from the one 77 years ago, but a war nonetheless.
The sooner we realise this, identify the enemy and begin fighting “whatever the cost may be”, the better chance we have of surviving.
The fighting part should be left for those trained for it. But I’ll be happy to make my modest contribution to the first two parts.
We’re at war with Islam. Hence every Muslim must be regarded as an enemy alien, however unfair this might be in most cases. Those 3,000 already known to the police as potential murderers must be removed from the streets by any means available.
It’s possible that some aspects of English justice may be compromised in the process. They always are at wartime. This is often the worst, or at least longest-lasting, damage caused by war.
But – “whatever the cost may be”. For the only alternative to victory is defeat. Which in this case means the death of our nation, as assured as it could have been 77 years ago.