The cold blooded murder of a Catholic priest, executed at the altar of his own church by young Islamist thugs, demands a greater response from us than the usual standard, sorrowful Twitter hashtag
Another day, another abhorrent, despicable and unacceptable Islamo-fascist terror attack in France, this time targeting a Catholic church in which an 86 year old priest had his throat slit – while celebrating Mass – by Islamist thugs acting in the name of ISIS.
What happens when the sheer number of small and medium size Islamo-fascist terror attacks (or the aura of politically correct unease at confronting them) becomes so great that the media simply stop reporting them fully?
Melanie McDonagh wonders in The Spectator:
In Michel Houellebecq’s novel, Submission, about a Muslim Brotherhood takeover of the French government (liberals and conservatives agreed this would be preferable to a National Front government), the interestingly prescient element was the non-reporting by television and papers of outbreaks of violence prior to the change of government (Twitter didn’t really feature in this novel). And that rings true. We’ve already got self-censorship when it comes to reporting attacks by Muslim refugees (the gun attack by a German-Iranian patently fell into a different category) in Germany and Scandinavia, and an almost comical reluctance anywhere in Europe to identify Islamist attacks as such – until IS takes credit for them, even the work of freelances. Plainly we have to guard against language that would demonise an entire community, but within that reasonable limit, we must require both politicians and public service broadcasters to talk plainly. And when Muslim extremists slit the throat of a priest in his own church, we’re looking at religiously motivated murder, entirely of a piece with the same religiously motivated murder of Christians and others being carried out in the Middle East. Shall we say so?
This is my concern too. While reading Houllebecq’s Soumission last year I was struck by the plausibility of the author’s scenario – a craven political/media class desperate to avoid facing up to the nature of the threat ultimately ceasing to report on the fundamentalist religious violence even as it grew. One scene features a wealthy society event attended by the academic elite of Paris, interrupted by the sounds of distant gunfire in Paris – an Islamist attack or far-right counter-attack which was barely acknowledged by the partygoers let alone mentioned on the later television news bulletins.
Already we have seen the first signs of “terror fatigue” in the mainstream media. When a suicide bomber detonated his explosives at the gates of a music festival in Ansbach, Germany late on Sunday night, Britain’s rolling TV news channels briefly mentioned that an incident was underway, but otherwise continued with their normal programming. By the early hours of Monday morning they had bothered to get a couple of eyewitnesses on air via telephone, but it was not until the breakfast news that they gave it the full terror attack treatment which we have come to expect from the news. Evidently these incidents are now coming so thick and fast that the BBC did not consider it worthwhile waking up their A-team presenters or reporters in the middle of the night for “just another” suicide attack on the streets of Europe.
This is the new normal. And as this blog argued yesterday, Europe’s political class and virtue-signalling members of the public must shoulder their share of the responsibility for our increased vulnerability to attack. Whether it is by cheering on the opening of Europe’s gates to millions of improperly-vetted migrants, a small number of whom have deadly intent, or furiously refusing to confront the fundamentalist religious nature behind that evil intent, we have denied ourselves the ideological, spiritual, procedural and technological means to properly defend ourselves and our civilisation.
Father Jacques Hamel died doing what he had done for 58 years of faithful service – proclaiming the Word of the Lord and celebrating the Eucharist. Though his death was unimaginably barbaric and violent, at least the name of Fr. Jacques will live on as somebody who proclaimed his truth and defended his values to his last day. Can the same be said for many of us, especially those of us who seek to reach some kind of appalling and unachievable truce with the Islamo-fascists? How will those of us be remembered in history who seek to excuse Islamist terror, laughably excusing it or explaining it away on the grounds of foreign policy or housing policy or welfare cuts?
On this one grim occasion we can at least be grateful for France’s historically strong secular traditions. The cold-blooded murder of a priest celebrating Mass in a more devout country could well have lit the touchpaper for religious war and serious civil strife. France, being more secular, will likely not see as great an anti-Islamic backlash as if this had happened in more Catholic country like Poland.
But there the good news ends. If they were not already high on the list of potential targets, churches, synagogues and the priests and rabbis who lead worship in them will now be in the crosshairs of every budding wannabe jihadist already in Europe, as well as those who have yet to arrive. Every parishioner going to Mass will now have pause to stop and consider their safety as they fill the pews this Sunday, and every subsequent Sunday. It is physically impossible to protect every church in the country, particularly against assailants armed only with knives and fake explosives.
On the plus side, President Francois Hollande has finally been shamed by events (the weekly accumulation of terrorist atrocities and the growing death toll) into declaring that France is at war with the Islamic State and therefore, by extension, with the extremist fundamentalist ideology behind it. But it is too little, too late.
As Harry de Quetteville puts it in the Telegraph:
So we should remember this: the truly great leaders now, those who can genuinely bring security and are worth voting for, will not be those such as Marine Le Pen who seek to exploit division for power. But neither, crucially, will they come from the ranks of those who fail to address what voters see as blindingly obvious: that terror and immigration are connected. If Angela Merkel persists in doing so, even she will be brought low by it. If the Democrats continue not to talk about terror, it could cost Hillary Clinton the White House.
In Britain we have grown used to talking throughout the Brexit campaign about a disconnect between politicians and the public. “They just don’t get it,” said the ranks of the disaffected, as they deserted Labour for Ukip and voted Leave. Even now, our main parties are struggling to offer even an initial response to the economic impacts of globalisation.
But the consequences of a similar disconnection between public and politicians over terror would be unthinkable – menacing to the liberty and liberal values that define our societies.
The politicians to prize, then, are those who can pull their heads out of the sand without stirring up the mob.
Such prize politicians seem few and far between in France, Germany and Britain. In fact it is hard to remember a time when the quality of leadership was held in such low esteem by a political class who now prize the ability to pander to chosen voting constituencies above all else. With the partial exception of Jeremy Corbyn on the Left, Britain’s major political parties have zero interest in telling hard truths to the British people or proposing anything other than glib, painless (and ultimately unworkable) fixes.
One faction of the country in particular – the Guardianista metro left – is not even yet willing to describe these attacks as religiously motivated, ascribing them simply to “troubled individuals”. When half the country is unable (or stubbornly, desperately refuses) to identify the ideology which murdered an octogenarian priest at the altar of his own church, how do we ever confront it?
May God grant eternal rest to His faithful servant Fr. Jacques Hamel.
May he rest in peace and rise in glory.
And may we finally come up with a response to this sustained Islamist assault on democracy and freedom of speech and religion which amounts to more than a Twitter hashtag and a few bunches of flowers.
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‘When bad men combine, THE GOOD MUST ASSOCIATE; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.’ Edmund Burke
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The murder of Fr. Jacques Hamel is a tragedy and a travesty. May he rest in peace.
In considering the circumstances of this horrendous attack, I am not convinced that an “aura of politically correct unease” prevents clear reporting of these attacks, but I agree that current journalistic and political approaches to this problem fall woefully short.
Globally, the majority of terrorist attacks this century have been carried out by non-Islamic groups, so it is important not to equate Islam with terrorism; it remains true, however, that the majority of recent terrorist attacks in Europe have been carried out by groups or individuals claiming affiliation with the religion of Islam. The best way to challenge the notion that terrorism is an Islamic problem is through more cooperation, not less. Imams and Islamic community leaders should reach out to their non-Islamic neighbours to promote friendship and understanding, and – crucially – we should listen and reciprocate. We have as much responsibility to educate ourselves about Islam as they have to educate us.
I believe it is right and important to distinguish between refugees (and since when did we abandon the word ‘refugee’ in favour of ‘migrant’?) and terrorists. On the whole, the people claiming refuge in Europe are fleeing from exactly the kind of terror that the attackers are attempting to spread. They are not seeking economic gain, they are seeking security and stability – the greatest and most underrated assets of the European Union.
‘Proper’ vetting, or vetting of any kind, is difficult when people are fleeing from a failed nation-state, often without documentation, but it is needed. Unfortunately, none of the governments of Europe seem capable of much more than ineffectual posturing – especially at present, when the whole of the Western world seems to be locked in an isolationist navel-gazing downward spiral. The refugee crisis – much like this spate of terror attacks – is an international problem and requires an international solution. It disturbs me greatly that several countries seem to be moving away from cooperation and towards isolationism at precisely the moment when a coordinated international approach is most needed.