Wednesday, July 04, 2007


Two British National party members plotted to make bombs in readiness for a "civil war between races", a court was told yesterday. A former candidate for the party stashed boxes of chemicals at his home after buying them online at the instruction of a local dentist and fellow BNP member, jurors at Manchester crown court heard. However, the hoard amassed by Robert Cottage, 49, of Colne, Lancashire, came to light when his wife told her social worker she was scared that Cottage and 62-year-old David Jackson were planning to test chemical weapons in the local countryside...Ms Cottage said her husband had been very enthusiastic in the BNP, rising through the party's ranks during three years as a member and becoming a friend of its leader, Nick Griffin. Alarm bells began to ring when Cottage led her to understand that the chemicals were intended to harm the government or anyone who came unannounced to their home.

"He thinks there's a war going to happen with the culture, the Asian culture and the white culture and that Tony Blair and President Bush are scheming against people," she said. Ms Cottage added that her husband and Jackson were "solid" friends who met regularly to chat about politics, the BNP and Hitler.

Our daughter flew back from the UK two days ago, just after the bomb scare at Glasgow Airport. When our son was last in the UK he arrived in London the day after 7/7. I suppose this should make me nervous but it doesn't really: stuff happens.

Today in the NYTimes, Tom Friedman speculates that the root cause of these shenanigans is in Islamic "self-identity" rubbed raw by "humiliation and atomization" and urges Muslims (not any particular Muslims--just Muslims) to straighten up and fly right:

Of course, not all Muslims are terrorists. But it’s been widely noted that virtually all suicide terrorists today are Muslims. Angry Norwegians aren’t doing this — nor are starving Africans or unemployed Mexicans. Muslims have got to understand that a death cult has taken root in the bosom of their religion, feeding off it like a cancerous tumor.

By the same reasoning, I--and Tom Friedman--should understand that a death cult has taken root in the bosom of White Culture. Of course, not all white people belong to the BNP but it's been widely noted that virtually all white supremecists are white. Looking back nostalgically to the age of innocence before 9/11, when it was the IRA that planted bombs, though we understood that not all Irish Catholics were terrorists it was widely noted that virtually all IRA bombers were Irish Catholics.

Islamicism is the latest oppositional identity statement, filling the vacuum left by the collapse of Marxism: Che is dead and, worse, passe; long live Osama bin Ladin. Of course Marxism was ecumenical and anyone could join whereas it's difficult to get on board with Islamicism unless you have proper ethnic credentials--though not impossible: there are converts like shoe-bomber Richard Reid and John Walker Lindh, the American Taliban. And there are lots of fellow-travellers.

It's all the same old crap, compounded of romanticism, political idealism, personal grievance and the universal desire to do violence, linked at one end to third world politics and at the other to organized crime. There's something for everyone--from educated ideologues and political radicals, like Mohamed Atta and the Glasgow Airport bombers to cranks and loonies like Mr. Cottage to the legions of young lower class males looking to do violence, flattered by attention from journalists and counterculture chickies, and delighted to be valorized as freedom fighters.

Of course it's "the longest war." But it's not a war against Islamicism, much less Islam, any more than it's a war against Communism, the IRA, the Basque nationalists or some amorphous thing called Terrorism. It's the war against Human Nature and, in spite of temporary setbacks and border skirmishes, the Enlightenment is still winning big. Really? You bet. I have have less chance of getting caught in a terrorist attack than I do of being hit by lightening, and very little chance of dying by violence. My husband doesn't beat me. I don't have to worry that bands of brigands will raid my leafy suburb or that competing tribes will rape and pillage. I don't spend all my waking hours eating to work and working to eat. My life, like the lives of most citizens in affluent countries and increasing numbers in developing countries, is radically different from the lives of billions of humans who came before us and immeasurably better.

There is no real philosophical problem of understanding what the Good Life is: wealth, technology and civil order are what make life good. The serious problem is not philosophical but technical and, therefore, much much harder: it's a matter of eliminating poverty, improving technology, and promoting good government. The idea that the problem is ideology or, more grandly, that there is some deep problem inherent in the human condition, is a self-serving evasion because the technical problem is so very hard and because we aren't willing to share our wealth. There will always be a minority of malcontents, lunatics and criminals. For the overwhelming majority of the human race however the answer is crass materialism--it's simply a matter of spreading it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is the best, most profoundly insightful post I have ever read. Islamic terrorists aren't special or new, just adolescents grasping for a sense of personal power and significance.