Hot Air and the Paris Atrocities
By Sean Gabb
(The Michigan Standard, 10th January 2015)
For the avoidance of doubt, I will begin by saying that the murders this week at Charlie Hebdo were a barbarous crime, and deserve the strongest punishment allowed by law. This being said, the smug chanting of the politicians and media people is getting on my nerves. Here, without further introduction, are the more objectionable mantras:
Je suis Charlie
I will repeat that this was a barbarous crime. But there seem to be barbarous crimes and barbarous crimes. Suppose the attack had not been on a cultural leftist magazine, but on the headquarters of the Front National, and the victims had been Francine le Pen and the party leadership. Would all those city squares have filled with people reciting Je suis le Front National? I hardly think so. Nor would the media have given blanket and uncritical coverage.
Indeed, we had our answer before the gunmen had opened fire. When Pim Fortuyn and Theo van Gogh and Lee Rigby were murdered no less barbarously, we were all urged to moderate our response. In the first two cases, we were told, with more than the occasional nod and wink, that the victims had brought things on themselves. As for the third, the protest demonstrations were broken up by the police.
Cultural leftists have the same right not to be murdered as the rest of us. So far as the present lamentations indicate, they are seen by the directors of public opinion as having a greater right.
We will Never Give up Our Right to Freedom of Speech
The continuing hymn of praise to freedom of speech would sound better if it were seriously meant. I believe that the writers and cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo had the moral right to say whatever they pleased about Islam, or anything else. But I also believe that Luke O’Farrell and Garron Helm should not have been sent to prison for being rude to or about Jews. Nick Griffin should not have been prosecuted for saying less against Islam than was published in Charlie Hebdo. The Reverend Alan Clifford should not have been threatened with prosecution in 2013, when he handed out leaflets at a gay pride march in Norwich. Almost every day, in England alone, someone gets into trouble for opening his mouth. Where for them are the defenders of freedom of speech, now more fashionably than bravely holding up pencils or waving candles?
I and my colleagues at the Libertarian Alliance can praise freedom of speech, because we are there for the people mentioned above. Just about everyone else I have seen on the television is a hypocrite. In general, we are free to say only what the authorities want to hear. Even when the law does not cover dissent, there are administrative or economic punishments. See, for example, the UKIP members who were denied the right to foster children, or the difficulty that dissident writers have to find paid work.
These were Cowardly Crimes
The men who shot up the Charlie Hebdo offices are not cowards. They took a considerable risk, and it is generally believed that they will not let themselves be taken alive. This is part of what makes them and their like so dangerous. The Sinn Fein/IRA terrorists were cowards. Their speciality was to plant time bombs in shop toilets, and then run away before they went off. These killers seem to regard themselves as already half way to the company of the seventy two virgins they were promised. There is nowhere they will not go, and nothing they will not do – they and those like them. To call them cowards is a comforting falsehood.
These were Senseless Crimes
The only senseless crime is one that has no evident purpose, or is unlikely to achieve it. The purpose of the Charlie Hebdo killings was to punish outrages against Moslem sensibilities, and to deter their repetition. Can anyone say they failed, or will fail? Some outlets of the mainstream media have republished some of the less offensive cartoons. But it was difficult not to, and there is safety in numbers. From now on, Moslems abroad and in Europe can expect a still more delicate handing of their sensibilities than is already the case. No one wants to be murdered, and one of the surest ways to avoid being murdered will be not to say anything untoward about Mohammed or his alleged teachings.
I now feel obliged to comment on mass-immigration from the Third World. Anyone who said this would be other than a disaster must have been a fool or a villain. It has forced down working class incomes. It has raised housing costs for everyone. It has increased crime and welfare dependency. It has Balkanised politics and administration and law. It has been the excuse for a police state. I am not a violent or an uncharitable man. I am committed to an abstract and universalist ideology. I do not object to a certain porosity of borders. But, like most Jews in Israel, or most Chinese in China – or like most people in all times and places – I regard every square inch of my country as the birthright of my people, and do not look favourably on levels of immigration that seem likely, within the next few generations, to dispossess us of that birthright. Yet this is where we now are, in England, in France, and in many other European and European-settled countries. I have no convincing answers to the problem we face. All I can do is predict one of two outcomes:
First, present trends will continue, and growing weight of numbers, and a greater willingness to resort to violence, will bring about the transformation of our societies in the image of the newcomers;
Second, there will be a nativist reaction, attended by expulsion and the removal of citizenship rights for those allowed to stay, and an authoritarian political settlement.
I do not look forward to either outcome. But, thanks to the conscious or negligent treason of our rulers, it seems likely to be one or the other of these. Anyone who can suggest a less unpleasant outcome that is other than wishful thinking will have at least my gratitude.
The question now outstanding is whether these killings will only contribute to the breakdown of the multicultural illusion, or whether they will be seen, by future historians, as one of its key events. Are they in the same dividing category as the defenstrations in Prague or the Oath in the Tennis Court? Or will the continued chanting of the mantras discussed above keep everything under control? Does the continuing uproar in France mean that something has begun there of wider significance than the murder of a dozen cultural leftists?