Weekly Terror Attacks Are Europe’s New Normal – For This, You Can Blame Angela Merkel And The Virtue Signallers

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Terror is the new normal, and Europe’s progressive virtue-signallers must shoulder their share of the blame

Douglas Murray has no time for a craven German government which prioritised the burnishing of its humanitarian credentials over the safety of its own citizens:

The Thursday before last it was Nice.  But already the slaughter of 84 people in France is just so, like, a fortnight ago.  Last Monday an ‘Afghan’ ‘teenager’ called Mohammed Riyad screamed ‘Allahu Akbar’ (‘Allah is greatest’) on a Bavarian train and started chopping people up with an axe.  I put ‘Afghan’ and ‘teenager’ in quotation marks because Mohammed was probably from Pakistan and is no more likely to be a ‘teenager’ than the thousands of other Peter Pans who Chancellor Merkel welcomed into her country last year.  Still, she gets to feel good about herself.  Shame the same can’t be said for the family from Hong Kong who had the misfortune to be sharing a train carriage with Frau Merkel’s latest conscience-cleaning import. Their relatives are still trying to arrange for the less badly injured family members to return home.

On Tuesday last week it was a 37-year old man called Mohamed Boufarkouch who started shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ near Montpelier and stabbed a French woman and her three daughters (aged 8,12 and 14).  Then yesterday a ‘Syrian asylum seeker’ used a machete to kill a pregnant woman and injure two others in Reutlingen, near Stuttgart. Perhaps it was terrorism. Perhaps it was traditional domestic violence with larger weaponry than has lately been traditional in Germany.

Then yesterday evening another ‘Syrian asylum seeker’ killed himself and injured 12 others in a bomb attack in the German town of Ansbach. At the time of writing there hasn’t been an attack in France or Germany for several hours so I am sure life will be returning to normal.

This constant, low-level Age of Anxiety does indeed seem to be the new normal in Europe. And it is about time that some of the virtue-signalling, Holier And More Compassionate Than Thou brigade began taking their (overwhelmingly large) share of responsibility for facilitating the wave of violence and murder which is now befalling France, Germany and Belgium.

While quick and dirty, fast online radicalisations are becoming an increasingly common remote method for Islamists to strike in Western countries (see Orlando, where many people are furiously talking down the ideological motive even now), there is still nothing as effective as letting vast swathes of unvetted people into Europe to generate an immediate uptick in acts of violence, be it the New Year’s Eve sexual assaults (also in Germany, also denied until they could be denied no longer) or lone wolf terror attacks, or worse.

And that small percentage of refugees and migrants (for many are the latter, not the former) who do intend to do us harm have been greatly aided in their efforts by the German Chancellor and all those who stood with her, using the #RefugeesWelcome hashtag to signal their own virtue while accusing anybody who voiced the slightest reservation of harbouring selfish, xenophobic motivations.

But after what appears to be a suicide bomb attack in Ansbach, following on from a massacre by truck in Nice on Bastille Day, following on from attacks in Brussels and Paris and elsewhere, it is high time for the virtue signallers to accept some responsibility for the entirely self-inflicted lapses in national security for which they so lustily campaigned.

Of course genuine refugees should always be welcome in Europe. But those who encouraged and cheered for the open door now have more than a speck of blood on their hands, just as those who passionately inveighed against turning back migrant boats heading for Europe are somewhat responsible for the lost lives of the hundreds who have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea after being encouraged to make the treacherous crossing.

But more to blame than almost anyone else (save the despots, theocrats, thugs and murderers currently making life impossible in Syria) is Angela Merkel, and what Douglas Murray termed her “conscience-cleaning” attempt to atone for Germany’s past sins, supposedly wiping them out with one single bold statement of humanitarian generosity. For in so doing, Merkel made a decision on behalf of Germans which was not hers alone to make.

There was no way of foreseeing the present dire circumstances when Germans went to the polls at the last federal election in 2013 – transforming Germany into a haven for over a million recent arrivals was not in any party manifesto at that time. And though many Germans have shown incredible generosity of spirit in opening their homes and communities to these migrants and refugees, Merkel deserves to face a fierce political backlash for not having put such a major decision to the people before acting.

All too often, the response of our politicians (and their cheerleaders, particularly on the Left) has been to do the thing which feels good in the moment, or which addresses the immediate crisis, even if it goes on to create far greater problems further down the line. The impulse to let in all of the world’s tired, huddled masses – even those not in immediate physical danger – satisfies the urge to be seen to be doing something. But worse, it encourages a tendency in the political class to make ostentatious displays of generosity when it is largely other people writing the cheques. Angela Merkel, with her protection detail, is thankfully never going to be sexually assaulted on the streets of Cologne. Nor is a suicide bomber likely to penetrate her security bubble, or a machete-wielding attacker corner her on a train. Ordinary Germans cannot say the same.

Likewise, those who painted their child-like “refugees welcome” signs and vaunted themselves as saints on social media got to look kind and virtuous in front of their peers while often remaining insulated from the negative consequences. But those consequences are real. They are manifested in the expectation that European lives will now be lost to terrorist attacks on a weekly basis – probably not in a grandiose 9/11 style attack, but through the constant attrition of mini massacres in second-tier provincial cities.

This is now the new normal – a reality where before much longer on our present trajectory, every day will bring the anniversary of a deadly Islamist terror attack somewhere in Europe, where the news reports blend into one another and the cycle of atrocity followed by vigil followed by hashtag followed by complacency followed by atrocity becomes unremarkable.

Europe’s progressive virtue-signallers took the credit for being enlightened, wonderful humanitarians. Now let them shoulder their fair share of the blame for each life lost to the terrorism which their open door inevitably beckoned.

 

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No Prosecution For Matthew Doyle, But Free Speech Is Still Diminished

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No trial for Islamophobic tweeter Matthew Doyle, but the mere fact of his arrest has served to further chill freedom of thought and speech in Britain

Vindication for “mealy-mouthed” tweeter Matthew Doyle, who will not be prosecuted for inciting racial hatred with silly social media messages after the police realised that they vastly overstepped their authority by arresting a man for speechcrime without first consulting with the Crown Prosecution Service.

The Guardian reports:

Charges against a man accused of posting tweets likely to stir up racial hatred have been dropped, Scotland Yard has said.

Police charged Matthew Doyle, 46, with a public order offence on Friday amid allegations that he tweeted about confronting a Muslim woman to ask her to “explain Brussels”.

But officers admitted later the same day that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) disagreed with their decision, adding that they did not have the legal power to bring the charges in the first place.

A statement released by police in the early hours of Friday morning said Doyle had been “charged under section 19 of the Public Order Act 1986; publishing or distributing written material which is threatening, abusive or insulting, likely or intended to stir up racial hatred”.

[..] But, late on Friday night, the Metropolitan police released a second statement saying that Doyle was “no longer charged with the offence and will not be appearing at court”.

It said: “Police may not make charging decisions on offences under Section 19 of the Public Order Act. There will be further consultation with CPS.”

So Doyle escapes on a technicality, the police (ever eager to respond to busybody public complaints about alleged thoughtcrime but much slower to respond when real crime occurs and your house is burgled) having brazenly overstepped their authority.

No doubt this is a relief for Matthew Doyle, whose initial tweet suggesting that all Muslims bear responsibility for the Brussels attacks, and subsequent inflammatory defence of that tweet, saw his life briefly put on hold and his flat ransacked by the police in their search for “evidence”.

But is this a victory for free speech?

Absolutely not. The fact that these draconian hate speech laws are on the statue book in the first place is an intolerable, long-standing affront to free speech in Britain. And the fact that the Metropolitan Police in London were able to drag a man from his home and hold him in jail when they did not have the authority to do so without suffering any kind of consequence whatsoever – there is certainly no talk of disciplining the officer(s) involved – is despicable too.

We must understand that the battle for free speech is won or lost at the margins. That often means defending the rights of people with truly heinous opinions on all manner of subjects to express themselves, while abhorring what they actually say. In this case, Matthew Doyle is hardly the world’s number one villain. He tweeted something particularly stupid about Muslims in the aftermath of the terrorist attack in Brussels, but he was light years away from cheering on such attacks himself (as many others do), or urging reprisals on all Muslims for what the Brussels terrorists did.

Under no reasonable definition of the word did Doyle “incite” anything at all, except in the minds of those joyless thought police who hold such a low view of humanity that they constantly fret that the public are mindless lemmings liable to being whipped up into a violent mob if they ever encounter a slightly controversial ideas. No, Doyle’s only crime was to be ignorant, and to broadcast that ignorance on social media.

Look at Doyle’s Twitter account page now, a full five days after his arrest and release. There is nothing new. Doyle has effectively been silenced, stopped from expressing his sincerely held opinions – opinions which he is fully entitled to hold, no matter how silly or wrong they may be – after the full weight of the criminal justice system came crashing down on his head one sunny afternoon:

Matthew Doyle - Twitter Timeline - 28 March

The online disappearance of a man who was until now a fairly prolific Twitter user is quite poignant. It shows a case of public idiocy being responded to not with rebuttal, debate, correction and forgiveness, but rather with vengeful mob justice backed by the power of the state. It shows a free voice, however ignoble it may have been in this case, being frightened into silence.

Prior to his arrest, Matthew Doyle was more than happy to interact and debate with the army of online critics who mocked and argued with him. That is how free speech is supposed to work. Bad ideas are drawn out into the open, debated, dissected and discarded. Maybe Doyle would never have changed his views in response to his Twitter critics, but others observing the dialogue unfold may have done. And in any case, it added to the infinite tapestry of our social discourse.

Following his release, there are no new tweets. Any future opportunity for learning, debate or correction has been lost. And all because some moralising busybodies with nothing better to do thought that the best response to seeing something they disliked on the internet was to report it to the police. And because the police, who prefer to sit at desks scouring Twitter looking for thoughtcrime rather than getting out and tackling real crime, leapt at the opportunity to show their PC tolerance by arresting a man for his beliefs.

You don’t need to throw people in prison to create a chilly, hostile environment for free speech and free thought – although there are plenty of people languishing in British prisons simply for saying, writing, posting or singing the “wrong” things, “offensive” things.

You can suppress free speech in a society just as effectively by the threat of public shaming, harassment by the police and potential prosecution under draconian but arbitrarily applied laws. And in the case of Matthew Doyle, the message has been received loud and clear:

Think the wrong thoughts or write the wrong thing on social media, and we will come for you. We are watching you, all the time. Give offence to anyone, intentionally or not, and they have the right to make a criminal complaint about your speech. And in response, the police will come to your house in the middle of the night, bundle you into the back of a police van, take you away and leave you to fester in a jail cell for a day before grudgingly releasing you. Your arrest will be made public, and your reputation will be forever stained as the person whose ideas and opinions were so heinous that they got in trouble with the law. Good luck with the rest of your life and career.

This is Britain. In the year 2016. And this is what now happens to people who say the wrong thing or express an unpopular idea in public or on social media.

And you dare to boast that we live in a liberal, tolerant country which respects human rights and free speech?

 

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The EU’s Model Of Supranational Harmonisation Does Not Keep Us Safe

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On national security as with trade and social affairs, the case for Brexit hinges on the conflict between intergovernmentalism and supranationalism

In his latest Telegraph column, Christopher Booker joins this blog in refuting the baseless, scaremongering claims by the Remain camp that being in the EU in any way protects Britain from the risk of terrorist attack.

Booker writes:

It was unfortunate timing for our not very convincing Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, when he used the Brussels terrorist attacks to claim that they only confirm how disastrous it would be for Britain to leave the EU. “The fact is,” he said, that “across Europe we do have these mechanisms now” for “sharing intelligence about terrorists’ movements” that enable “all intelligence services across Europe to pool their efforts”.

Do those “mechanisms” for sharing intelligence include the Parliament, Court of Justice, Commission, the supranational elements by which the European Union undermines nation states and seeks to usurp their role on the world stage? Of course not – these are all explicitly political institutions. All of the collaboration which actually helps to combat terrorism in Europe occurs on an intergovernmental, not a supranational basis, mostly outside of European Union structures.

When sovereign governments are free to co-operate on mutually important issues, they can often do so well. But when a busybody supranational regime seeks to take on ever more responsibilities from the nation state, vesting them in inappropriate and unproven institutions, that’s when things can easily fall through the cracks, as this blog explained yesterday.

Booker rightly goes on to argue:

In fact, there is here a much wider point, which highlights one of the most common misunderstandings about the EU, whose supporters try to persuade us that without it, international cooperation could not exist. In fact, over a whole range of issues, countries have long evolved extremely effective systems of inter‑governmental cooperation, such as on air-traffic control, Interpol, the international postal union, the European Space Agency and dozens more (not to mention Nato).

All these, negotiated between national governments, regardless of whether or not they are in the EU, work very well. And not the least absurd feature of the EU’s attempt to make itself a “supranational government of Europe” is how often it has tried to absorb these examples of effective cooperation into its own clumsy bureaucratic empire: as when it launched its “Single European Sky” programme, or set up “Europol”, or issued directives on postal arrangements with which it then expected non-EU states to comply, or tried to take over the European space programme for its crazy Galileo satellite project.

If only more people appreciated the crucial difference between “inter‑governmental”, which works, and “supranational”, which doesn’t, how much more enlightening our debate might become.

Inter-governmental versus supranational. It is very much in the interests of the EU’s apologists and closet federalists for the general public not to realise the difference between these two important terms.

The former describes the healthy co-operation between friendly allied countries, sometimes bilaterally and other times facilitated by an organising body (like Interpol). The latter describes weak nation states outsourcing key responsibilities to a higher third party, a reckless and unproven approach only ever attempted by national politicians seeking to escape accountability to their own electorates.

If the Remain camp succeed in their effort to lay a thick fog of war over the EU referendum debate so that important terminologies and ideas are confused and muddled, they automatically win. If they can persuade people that the EU equals warm, fuzzy co-operation with our friends while Brexit equals snarling isolationism and being an international pariah, the Remain camp need to nothing else. And so far, they are succeeding.

In order to turn this around, the Leave campaign absolutely must succeed in educating the public on the difference between laudable and (ideally) transparent and accountable co-operation between European countries on one hand, and the outsourcing of core government competencies to undemocratic, unwanted and untested unified European institutions on the other.

This applies not only to national security, but economic and social affairs too. When the Leave campaign are able to cut through the fog of confusion and make people realise that leaving the EU would actually represent an affirmation and strengthening of the only kind of co-operation which actually delivers positive results (the inter-governmental kind), they are far more likely to embrace Brexit and realise how the EU actively harms healthy intergovernmentalism in its rabid pursuit of ever-closer union.

Can the Leave campaign this message across in less than three months between now and the referendum? Perhaps. But enlightenment will not spring from the mouths of deliberately ignorant “leaders” like Boris Johnson.

Those who can actually distinguish between the real issues and the cosmetic ones – which sadly excludes much of the British press corps – urgently need to find a way to amplify their message.

 

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Bottom Image: Cartoon by Wolfgang Ammer, published in Intergovernmentalism & Liberal Intergovernmentalism

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The EU’s Undermining Of National Identity Creates A Space Where Islamist Extremism Freely Grows

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Eroding national identities while forging an unwanted and unloved new European identity creates a dangerous gap, which Islamist extremists are now exploiting

There is a welcome glimmer of realisation in today’s New York Times that repeated attempts to artificially force political union on the disparate peoples of Europe (alternately by threat and by stealth) is leading to increasingly suboptimal outcomes.

Jochen Bittner writes:

Official Europe has worked hard to move past nationalism, so that there is no German or French Dream. But there’s no European Dream, either, not yet. So new migrants have no spirit to tap into, as they do in the United States. Instead, some Muslims find it more attractive to give their loyalty to Allah, their fellow believers or the Islamic State.

Intelligence services estimate that up to 6,000 jihadists from Western Europe have traveled to join the Islamic State. This enormous figure does not illustrate merely the failures of integration policy. It also shows the failure of mainstream European Muslims to keep their youth immune from extremism.

A result of this mutual apathy is too many Islamists, and too few police and intelligence officers — particularly in Belgium, but not just there. We may have a common European currency, but we still do not have a common European terrorism database. Islamists in Western Europe seem better coordinated than the European authorities hunting them.

There is a creeping awareness too that the head-in-the-sand insistence by many Western leaders that Islamist terror has “nothing to do with Islam” has been a textbook case of wishful thinking overriding political judgement, even common sense:

For the sake of social peace, after the Sept. 11 attacks, and later after the Madrid and London bombings, we told ourselves that Islam and Islamism had nothing to do with each other. But sadly, they do. The peaceful religion can sometimes serve as a slope into a militant anti-Western ideology, especially when this ideology offers a strong sense of belonging amid the mental discomfort of our postmodern societies.

That’s not to say that the article is right about everything. At one point it lapses back into the lazy, unthinking assertion that the European Union is solely responsible for keeping the peace since the Second World War:

So are Germany’s critics right? Is it reasonable to pull up the drawbridge?

In a way, the very question shows the disproportionality of the thought — unless you think it’s worth sacrificing 60 years of peace and international cooperation to the depredations of terrorists. It’s what they want; European disunity, confusion and extremism put them a step closer to the all-out war between Muslims and non-Muslims they so desperately seek.

The notion that the leaders of Islamic State – or radical jihadists in general – could give a hoot whether the Western European countries they so fervently loathe are grouped together under a single political umbrella or under their own auspices is ludicrous beyond words.

The home-grown radical Islamist terrorists from Belgium, Britain and France do not feel any allegiance to Europe or to their own particular country. Their only allegiance is to their warped strain of Islam, which teaches them to loathe anything and everything which does not conform to a very fundamentalist, conservative and specific worldview.

If anything, the European Union’s insistence on subordinating the national identities of individual member states in a thousand ways large and small, and attempting to shoehorn in an artificial new European identity which consistently fails to take root is primarily responsible for allowing a radical Islamist identity to creep in between the cracks.

If the European Union is the vehicle for international collaboration that its cheerleaders consistently claim, then it would focus on intergovernmental co-operation – for that is what will do the most good thwarting future terror attacks. But the EU doesn’t particularly care about co-operation between security services. Such matters are exquisitely boring to the architects and drivers of European political integration, who care only about creating a single European state.

Consider: if the European Union is a benign and non-threatening group of countries coming together to trade and solve common problems (like the threat of Islamist terrorism), why is such a tiny fraction of its budget – and an even smaller percentage of officials’ time – spent on enhancing intergovernmental co-operation so that agencies and forces work seamlessly together when they most need to?

No, the European Union has a flag, anthem and parliament for a reason – because those are the things that matter to them, the building blocks of political union. Sure, the EU’s leaders are happy to take advantage of the Brussels terror attacks – as they do with every other crisis – to declare that the only solution is “more Europe”. But the more Europe they have in mind won’t do a damn thing to thwart future terror attacks. It will only make them more likely.

Building a politically unified European state involves first dissolving existing national identities, and then replacing them with a new European identity commanding the loyalty and affection of the people. The EU has been moderately successful at the former, but absolutely hopeless at the latter. Staggeringly few people see themselves as European first and foremost – nearly all retain primary loyalty to their country, or in some cases to a region – like Scotland or the Basque region.

And as the nation state is undermined on one side while the vaunted new European identity consistently fails to materialise, this creates an ever widening gap which can be filled by Islamist extremist recruiters and terrorists. When there is no healthy sense of national identity, first and second generation immigrants may struggle to assimilate, and sometimes they will find meaning and belonging in undesirable places.

None of this should be shocking. Much of it was entirely predictable. But the European Union – who are now sickeningly claiming that they were the true victims of the attack, as though a self-important bureaucratic talking shop even registers on the Islamic State’s radar – refused to take the threat seriously, because it was too busy building up the appearance and trappings of a state.

Proper co-operation and coordination between national intelligence services does not require a European Parliament, a European Council, a flag, an anthem or pretensions on the world stage. If the EU really cared about keeping its citizens safe first and foremost, it could immediately deprioritise all further steps toward political integration, roll back its outsized role in supranational governance and focus on facilitating the kind of basic inter-governmental cooperation that might have feasibly prevented the Paris and Belgium attacks.

But of course the European Union will never do this in a million years. Because the EU has some other objective, far more important than trifling concerns over national security, on its agenda.

Now what could those other priorities possibly be?

 

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Arrested For Thoughtcrime In Britain Following The Brussels Terror Attacks

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Britain has become an authoritarian dystopia where the police prefer to waste scare resources scouring Twitter for instances of supposed thoughtcrime, rather than tackling real-world crime

Matthew Doyle of Croydon, south London, was not the first person to say something stupid in the aftermath of the Islamist terror attacks in Brussels yesterday, and he will certainly not be the last. But Doyle does hold the dubious honour of being the first person in Britain to be arrested for thinking and saying – or in this case, tweeting – the wrong thing about the Brussels attacks, the latest victim of Britain’s dystopian hate speech laws.

As with most people whose free speech most urgently needs defending, Matthew Doyle does not come across as a remotely sympathetic character.

The Telegraph explains:

A man who tweeted about stopping a Muslim woman in the street yesterday, challenging her to “explain Brussels”, and lambasted on Twitter for his comments, has responded to the criticism today, insisting he is not some ‘far right merchant’.

Matthew Doyle, partner at a south London-based talent & PR agency, posted a tweet on Wednesday morning saying: “I confronted a Muslim woman in Croydon yesterday. I asked her to explain Brussels. She said ‘nothing to do with me’. A mealy mouthed reply.”

He was later arrested.

His tweet referred to yesterday’s bomb attacks on the Belgian capital’s main airport and Metro system that left at least 34 people dead and 198 injured. His comment went viral, being retweeted hundreds of times before he eventually deleted it.

Mr Doyle told the Telegraph he had no idea his tweet would be the “hand grenade” it has proven to be – and that Twitter’s 140 character limit made the encounter sound vastly different to how he thought it went.

Now there is a good case to be made that Matthew Doyle is something of an idiot – in a follow up tweet, he later exclaimed “The outrage I felt was real. I cannot understand why I decided to ask the nearest Muslim I ran into”, which certainly suggests that perhaps we are not dealing with a world class mind here.

Matthew Doyle tweet

And his subsequent tweets veered firmly toward the knuckle-dragging bigot end of the spectrum, when he retorted “Who cares if I insulted some towelhead??”

Matthew Doyle tweet - 2

But let’s be clear – even if we apply the most unforgiving interpretation of Matthew Doyle’s tweet, and his subsequent account of the conversation, it should not be enough to land a citizen of a supposedly free democracy in trouble with the law.

Even if Doyle literally sought out the first Muslim-looking person he could see on the high street, approached them unbidden and asked them to account for the terrorist actions in Brussels yesterday, no country calling itself free should drag that man through the criminal justice system.

It may be incredibly ignorant and offensive to suggest that all Muslims share responsibility for the terrorist attacks in Brussels this week. It may be astonishingly stupid. But stupidity and lack of manners should not be enough to earn someone a knock on the door from the police.

In this case, the initial response of the Twitterverse was (for once) exactly what should happen – society’s self-righting mechanism kicking in against the actions of a conspicuous idiot. Doyle said something irretrievably stupid which was then widely retweeted, and he found himself on the end of thorough, fully deserved mockery from complete strangers online. Many of the subsequent parody tweets effectively (and wittily) exposed the total lack of logic behind Doyle’s sentiments and actions.

So why is confrontation, rebuttal and mockery not enough in twenty first century Britain? Why can we not simply go to bed content that a self-declared idiot has had his idiocy widely exposed, refuted and mocked, without wanting to twist the knife further? Why is it now also necessary to compound his punishment by heaping an arrest, a trial and a possible criminal conviction on top of the self-inflicted public shaming?

As Alex Massie recently lamented when looking at the public’s response to Donald Trump’s comments about Britain, cases like these only prove his how snarlingly authoritarian and illiberal a place modern Britain can be once the sunny, progressive façade is peeled back:

It is always depressing to discover that there are vastly fewer liberals in this country than you might wish there to be. But that discovery should no longer surprise us.

This is the true attack on British and European values, and it comes from within. I am far less worried about the slim possibility that I will find myself standing next to a suicide bomber on my morning commute, and far more concerned that every single day I am apparently rubbing shoulders with people who smile and appear friendly at first glance, but who would not hesitate to bring the full weight of the criminal justice system crashing down upon my head if I happen to one day say the wrong thing (defined by British law as anything which gives them offence).

As a political blogger with sometimes forceful and controversial views, I am less worried that my writings may earn me a punch in the face from a stranger (I couldn’t be less famous, and my reflexes are quick – though I am probably playing with fire when I criticise our national religion, the NHS) and far more worried that someone will read something that I write, take massively overinflated exception to it, and – with a few clicks of a mouse or a quick telephone call – report me to the police, who would then be obliged to investigate me under Britain’s oppressive hate speech laws.

In the age of Islamo-fascist terror, my liberty and wellbeing is far more under threat from the Public Order Act 1986, the Communications Act 2003 and the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006 than it is from the terrorist’s bomb or the bullet. Not because I ever incite racial or religious hatred – indeed, I abhor those who do so – but because under the same laws that put Matthew Doyle in a jail cell, my “guilt” would depend entirely on the perception of the supposed “victim”. Anybody at any time can read anything that I write, claim to be alarmed and distressed by the ideas that I express, and have me carted off to prison.

They can do this to idiots like Matthew Doyle. They can do it to political bloggers like me. And they can do it to you. Sitting at your computer right now, you can get yourself arrested and cautioned, convicted and even sent to prison just by typing fewer than 140 characters on your keyboard. In Britain. In the year 2016.

In case the government actually cares, this is how the terrorists really win. They’ll never make Britain part of a radical Islamic Caliphate, but they can certainly help to ensure that we become such a snarlingly authoritarian, freedom-hating society that our country is changed irrevocably for the worse.

And as the freedoms and liberties which distinguish Britain from more benighted parts of the world – including primitive quasi-medieval regimes like the Islamic State – are shot to pieces, it is our own hand on the trigger. No one else’s. We do this to ourselves.

 

Postscript: What remains unclear at this time is whether Matthew Doyle was arrested for the content of his original tweet, his subsequent tweets (some of which were actually far more offensive) or the real-world act that his initial tweet described.

It may seem an arcane detail, but it will be interesting to discover whether the woman accosted by Doyle made the complaint, or whether it was a foot soldier in Britain’s growing army of professional online offence-seekers who took offence on her behalf. I would bet a very large sum of money that it is the latter, and that while the “victim” herself probably shrugged off the incident, Doyle’s prosecution is being urged most strongly by other people who are completely unconnected with the incident and who were not adversely affected in the slightest by his tweet.

 

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