Moral equivalence wafts through the air

The public reaction to the Finsbury Park incident reminds me of Russia, circa 1903. Now historical parallels are never quite exact, but they may be useful for illustrative purposes. This one certainly is.

In that year a wave of 600 anti-Jewish pogroms swept the Pale of Settlement. Kishinev and Kiev were hit especially hard. Thousands of houses looted, thousands of people beaten up, thousands of women raped, 48 people dead in Kishinev alone.

By the time the pogroms ended in 1906, 2,500 Jews had been killed, most of them in Odessa. (Russian chauvinists like Solzhenitsyn always precede such numerals with the word ‘only’.) But meanwhile it was 1903, and, in the wake of Kishinev and Kiev, the Jews of Gomel knew it was their turn next.

In preparation, they organised armed self-defence groups, which sprang a nasty surprise on those Russian patriots. When the marauding mob rampaged through the streets of Gomel, it was met with pistol shots.

As a result, ‘only’ 25 Jews died, and about as many murderous thugs. Now the term ‘moral equivalence’ hadn’t been coined yet, but, on the basis of the public reaction in the Russian press, it should have been.

Most papers insisted that both sides were equally to blame. Some, that the Jews even more so because they had fired the first shots. Phrases like “violence breeds violence” streamed off newspaper pages, along with regrets that the Jews hadn’t absorbed the Christian notion of turning the other cheek.

The subsequent court proceedings reinforced that line of thought. Eighteen Jews defending themselves were sentenced to penal servitude, and only 12 Russian thugs leading the rampage.

As I said, the parallel with the Finsbury Park aftermath isn’t quite exact. But neither is it nonexistent.

Unlike those Gomel Jews, Darren Osborne (no relation to George, as far as I know) wasn’t in any immediate personal danger – he wasn’t pre-empting or warding off an attack. However, he was justified in feeling threatened as a member of the group routinely and indiscriminately targeted by Muslim terrorists – just as Jews were targeted in Russia circa 1903.

That feeling he had, however justified it might have been, doesn’t excuse his criminal action. But it certainly mitigates it.

I’m not a physical coward – growing up in the tough neighbourhood otherwise known as Russia didn’t allow me that option. But nowadays I tense up slightly every time I find myself in a Central London crowd. And – call me a racist and report me to the Commission for Racial Equality – I automatically examine every young Muslim coming my way.

Is he carrying some work tools or a gun in that satchel? Is it food or a bomb in his Sainsbury’s bag? Unlike Mr Osborne, I’m a civilised man, so I don’t go beyond looking with apprehension. But I can understand his action, even if I can’t excuse it.

It’s not Islamophobia that has put the electricity of fear and tension into the atmosphere, but Islamic terrorism. So surely our response to the Finsbury Park attack should distinguish between action and reaction.

Both may be reprehensible, but it takes a broken moral compass to suggest they are equally reprehensible. Or else it takes a conscience warped by what some call political correctness and what could more appropriately be called our civilisation’s suicide wish.

This is a dangerous disease, and our prime minister is showing advanced symptoms of it. She assigned an equal measure of “hatred and evil” both to the Finsbury Park attack and the numerous and more deadly acts of Muslim terrorism that had provoked it.

The former, said Mrs May, is “every bit as insidious and destructive to our values and our way of life” as the latter. That’s why “We will stop at nothing to defeat it.”

Nothing, Mrs May? That’s good to hear. So let’s begin by admitting that we’re at war – not with alienated loaners on cannabis, not with Islamists, not with Islamofascists, not with Islamic fundamentalists, but with Islam.

This war has been going on for 1,400 years, and it has had lulls alternating with flare-ups. We’re going through a flare-up now, and unless HMG does something about it, people like Darren Osborne (no relation to George) will.

If they start doing it en masse, that could spell disintegration of public order, with vigilante justice replacing the rule of law. And then, “As I look ahead, I am filled with foreboding; like the Roman, I seem to see the River Tiber foaming with much blood.”

When Enoch Powell thus quoted Virgil in a similar context, he was instantly vilified, and our progressive press still sputters spittle at the “rivers of blood” speech. But, even though Powell didn’t have specifically Muslims in mind, he saw the dangers of multi-culti diversity.

His moral compass hadn’t gone haywire, as Mrs May’s has. If she really will stop at nothing to defeat violence, she should start by stopping the Muslim action first, and the reaction to it second. This isn’t just a temporal sequence, but a moral pecking order.



11 thoughts on “Moral equivalence wafts through the air”

  1. When organizations take up arms (whether guns, bombs, knives or vehicles) in defiance of the authorities and to the peril of the rest of us (the IVs) they are arguably traitors and should be treated as such and if there are rival factions in the illicit conflict they should be put down with equal vigour. Moral equivalence should have nothing to do with it because civilization cannot afford to be in debt to either party. It’s a tough call being reliant on the good will of someone prepared to kill.

    1. “…in defiance of the authorities…”

      It was “the authorities” that disarmed the citizenry in the 1950s and 1960s. Before that it was recognised that self defence was not only an unalienable right, but a basic human instinct. The assumption was that the free citizen should be able to protect himself or his property by any means at his disposal – including firearms. Also it was a principle that the ‘keepers of the Queen’s peace’ were the citizens themselves – the police merely being citizens in uniform who were paid to devote themselves to it full time.

      In disarming the citizenry, government assumed responsibility for the safety and security of the individual citizen. It has not only failed in that duty (which it knew it would – hence the establishment of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority) but the loss of life and limb has been a direct result of government policies.

      As I said, self protection is a basic human instinct – and it brooks no “authority”.

      1. Your point on bearing arms is a diversion and does not address the fact that we elect the ‘authorities’ and therefore we have a contract with them that includes their duty to use the police and military forces to protect us. My point was that they should get on with it without conniving or giving preference to any insurgent group. The common folk have never been allowed to bear military arms except when serving in a militia controlled by the local lord or in a national army. The idea that we should clunk off to work, pub, restaurant or theatre with our assault rifles is absurd.

        1. I’m not suggesting we should do that, certainly not assault rifles and certainly not in this article. And I agree with you, even though I don’t like the word ‘contract’, that it’s the government’s duty to protect us. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s their most important duty, and some would even argue it’s their only legitimate one. But what do we do if the government is remiss in that duty? The Russian government certainly was in 1903, and the British government increasingly appears to be in 2017. What then? Should we go to our death shouting ‘Long live democracy and the rule of law?’ I suspect there are many people in England who’d like to explore other available options first.

          1. Dear AB, I was replying to Fin’s take on your article. I am at one with you in being steadfastly against settling for the option of being an IV just to allow politicians to enjoy the irresponsible life to which they have become accustomed. They appear to be unaware of the concept of duty but I hope someone will explain the meaning of contract to them. We not only appointed them but we are paying them and we are also paying for the disciplined armed forces and intelligence agencies to be at their command. I am sure that in common law there is something, which says or imputes that if you paid for something, then you own it. The politicians must understand that more and more of us think they are in breech of contract. Duty of care is openly neglected in industry, education and the NHS. It must be difficult to nail down in terms of law. However contract law is another matter.

  2. The problem with this war is that there is no honorable way to fight it. Aside from running off to Iraq to fight ISIS I suppose, but that would take more courage and perhaps fanaticism than most can muster.

  3. “the Jews hadn’t absorbed the Christian notion of turning the other cheek.”

    JESUS himself told the Apostles to carry swords for their defense. Turn the other cheek as that phrase meant 2,000 years ago did not mean passivity but was understood as a gesture showing contempt for the perpetrator.

  4. It would seem to me that this act of reprisal has been long awaited! I fear there will be an escalation of revenge against the infidel, but now targeting their crowd attacks on”the Crusaders” outside churches. I hope the Bobbies are positioned in bigger numbers there, rather than near mosques.

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