(The title with apologies to Milan Kundera who is probably spinning in his grave, seeing how the Western left has been culturally appropriating the (former) Eastern left’s strategies and tactics.)
Welcome to the post-Christchurch inversion. If your head is spinning because you can’t keep up with what you should and shouldn’t be feeling, thinking, saying and doing in the aftermath of this tragedy, don’t worry – you’re not alone. And it’s not like we didn’t know before that there are no universal rules; that it all depends on, to borrow from Lenin, “who whom”.
Old and busted: Don’t politicise a tragedy.
New and hot: Hold my beer. I mean even Chelsea Clinton is responsible…
Old and busted: Don’t overreact to terrorism. Take, for example, Waleed Aly in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing, hoping for
a far more sober, pragmatic recognition that terrorism is a perpetual irritant, and that while it is tragic and emotionally lacerating, it kills relatively few people and is not any kind of existential threat. Perhaps we’re learning to avoid being sucked into terrorism’s radicalising vortex, where attack brings overreaction, and the violence rapidly escalates.
New and hot: Waleed Aly now: “The thing that scared me most was when I started reading the manifesto that one of the apparent perpetrators of this attack published, not because it was deranged but because it was so familiar.” Then quotes Peter Dutton and Scott Morrison (incorrectly).
Old and busted: Don’t blame the whole categories of people for the actions of the few.
New and hot: Slate:
Old and busted: Islam is a religion of peace.
New and hot: Western Civ, not so much:
In his manifesto, Brenton Tarrant, the Christchurch gunman, describes his aim as opposing the “destruction” of European culture that he sees mass migration causing, as well as fighting the “insanity that has taken control of Western thought”. Tarrant’s intention, then, was not just to indiscriminately murder Muslims, but to reset ideas in Western countries in a way that puts European culture at the centre of national life.
As the self-nominated custodians of Western culture, Ramsay’s academic supporters should pay attention to Tarrant’s words. Like everyone else, they surely abhor Friday’s murders. But this is all the more reason to reflect seriously on how the Ramsay curriculum validates the worldview behind Friday’s massacre.
Ramsay’s executive academic officer recently argued that the centre’s distinct contribution to humanities education is that it “attempts to integrate” the works of Western culture “into a coherent whole” by teaching Plato alongside Shakespeare and Virgil in a single, unified program of study.
This reasoning is worth examining: for the sake of “coherence”, it is claimed, texts of the European canon should be studied together. Texts written by Europeans, that is, should be studied alongside texts written by other Europeans.
If society is to escape from the murderous civilisational hatred displayed on Friday in Christchurch – to say nothing of the West’s longstanding, far more deadly military campaigns against the Muslim world – universities simply must stop legitimising this kind of thinking. There is a clear analogy between thinking that European books belong together and thinking that European people do too.
Old and busted: Here’s the footage of the terrorist attack and its bloody aftermath.
New and hot: “Facebook removed 1.5m videos of New Zealand terror attack in first 24 hours: Site says it will remove any clip featuring gunman’s footage even if that would not normally break its rules”. Also, it’s been classified as “objectionable”, so you can now go to jail in New Zealand for possession and distribution.
Old and busted: Terrorists don’t represent Islam; they are not real Muslims; they are misinterpreting and using religion as justification.
New and hot: Brenton Tarrant is a right-winger and a Trumpist (nope and nope) and his beliefs are pretty much those of the right/Murdoch press/commentators/politicians. For example: “Tarrant’s manifesto reads like a shortened, albeit more violent, version of the popular 2017 book “The Death of Europe,” by British author Douglas Murray, who argued that immigration had already effectively destroyed European society.” Also this:
Hi @BilalHassam why did you post this? Are you trying to get us all killed? Where did you get it from? Did you make it? This is terrorist incitement. Will you cooperate with @metpoliceuk as this appears to threaten not just me but others, including our Home Secretary @sajidjavid? pic.twitter.com/WoqxlmCISQ
— Maajid – (Mājid) [maːʤɪd] ماجد (@MaajidNawaz) March 19, 2019
At least there is one comforting constant: it’s all about Western Islamophobia – Muslim terrorists are radicalised by it and lash out against it, while the Christchurch terrorist is motivated by it.