Islamic State supporters have united with their natural allies on the regressive left to celebrate the destructive power of Hurricane Irma on the Great Satan and its wicked, climate-denying president Donald Trump.
Here are some screenshots of ISIS-supporting sites, provided by jihadist monitor MEMRI.
Though Islamists and progressives differ as to the cause of hurricanes – one side ascribes them to Allah, the other to Donald Trump and man’s selfishness, greed and refusal to amend his carbon-guzzling lifestyle – they are both unanimous that the damage being done is good thing.
But as a fellow journalist I feel about as much sympathy for him as I do for all those idiot jihadists who go out to fight in Raqqa and Mosul, lured by the cool videos of the beards, black flags, and AKs with the wailing soundtrack. Did they seriously imagine when they joined ISIS/CNN that it was all just going to be about the glamour and the hot chicks and the purity of the noble cause?
And I’m really not being high minded here. It just seems to me that one of the most basic, entry-level precepts that any serious news organization ought to be observe – and that CNN most patently never has observed, or not for a very, very long time – is this:
Facts are sacred. The truth always makes the best story. You do not make shit up.
Not only ought this stuff to be obvious, but it ought to come instinctively. Isn’t the whole attraction of joining an unglamorous, overworked, underpaid trade like journalism that you want to discover the truth about the world: all the stuff that they would rather you didn’t know?
That’s certainly been my own experience in the last few years covering the climate change/enviro-lunacy beat. I’ve never much enjoyed all the flak I’ve got from the left-wing media; still less have I liked being rejected by so many friends. But the thing that has kept me going through the hard times is that I know I’m doing good and making a real difference: there are some devious bastards out there doing terrible stuff and I’m exposing their knavery and holding them to account.
For any self-respecting journalist, I’d call that “job done.”
Sometimes I get asked by people on the other side of the argument: “What if you’re wrong?”
Here’s the first thing I’ll do if I’m wrong about climate change. I’ll write a big piece explaining why I’m wrong. Then I’ll find someone who is prepared to pay me for writing the opposite of what I do now.
This isn’t because I’m a moral paragon. It’s because I’m lazy and because I prefer the easier life: writing journalism where you have to keep making up your “facts” is much, much harder than doing what I do now, which is basically, copying out true facts and then adding a few nice adjectives and thinking up a snarky final sentence.
That said, I would have to concede that this is much easier to do if you’re politically on the right rather than on the left.
Margaret Thatcher once said “The facts of life are conservative.” And as in so many things, she was absolutely spot on. This, as you can imagine, makes life very, very difficult for people in the overcrowded left-wing media. (It’s overcrowded because so many journalists think they’re left wing).
Every day, they wake up to a world where: Israel is the only functioning democracy in the Middle East with the best human rights record; socialism is failing everywhere it is being tried from Venezuela to North Korea; the worst, most fascistic acts of violence and intolerance are being committed by left-wing people calling themselves “anti-fascists”; Islam is not a “religion of peace”; Trump is doing a great job as president — way, way better than his predecessor Obama; man-made climate change is the biggest scam in the history of science, politics, or economics…
And somehow they’ve got to construct stories demonstrating the opposite because it’s what their dumb-assed audiences want to hear.
How, if you’re running a left-wing media organization, do you reconcile this yawning gulf between the facts on the ground and your preferred political narrative?
Simple: you remake the world so that black is white and white is black; you create your own facts.
A policeman is stabbed to death right outside the Houses of Parliament: one of the most secure, heavily guarded areas, with more armed police on stand-by than anywhere in London.
Whoever the terrorist turns out to be he knew exactly what he was doing. The signal he sent out to the British people (and all the tourists who have ever visited Britain or are planning to visit Britain) was a very clear one: if we can get you here we can get you anywhere.
The killings happened beneath one of the world’s most famous landmarks: the tower of Big Ben overlooking Westminster Bridge and Parliament Square.
How many of us have not walked beneath it and mused nervously what a prime terrorist target it would be?
Then, probably, we will have corrected ourselves: “No, they’d never try it here. Too many police. Too obvious.”
Well, sorry. But they just did.
And now, as per usual on these occasions, the bien-pensant twonks on Twitter are seizing the opportunity to virtue-signal and dodge the issue by pretending it’s all about something else and nothing to do with the Religion of Peace (TM).
For the Guardian’s reviewer, however, Kemp was engaged in some kind of macho death urge as he heroically laid his arse on the line in northern Syria.
Before I set about reviewing Ross Kemp: The Fight Against Isis (Sky 1), I thought I’d have a glance to see whether other critics had been as impressed as I was. Clearly the flip groovester from the Guardian — who opened, inevitably, with a jaunty quip about Grant from EastEnders — had seen a very different documentary from the one I saw. Otherwise, he could not have failed to be moved by Kemp’s heartbreaking interview with the Yazidi woman from Sinjar who’d recently escaped from Isis.
Her 10-year-old daughter squatted beside her — only survivor of the five children she had had when Isis captured her town. The eldest (11) had been immediately commandeered as a sex slave; the three youngest had been deliberately poisoned a few months later by Isis when the family had tried to escape. Pictures of their bodies were posted on social media as a warning to others.
What struck me — as it does time and again with footage like this from Iraq and Syria — is these people’s matter of fact tone as they recount atrocities more befitting the era of the Mongol horde than the age of safe spaces, transgender toilets and Pokémon Go. ‘They killed my mother in front of me,’ volunteers a middle-aged man with a moustache, almost as an afterthought. Horror has become so commonplace they have been brutalised into a numbness you might easily mistake for indifference.
You saw this most chillingly in the eyes of an IS fighter who’d been caught in a police sweep of a recently captured village. His face was hidden by a balaclava; all you could see were murky dead eyes which didn’t even have the decency to look haunted. He’d joined mainly for the $70-a-month regular income, he told Kemp, first al-Qaeda then IS. No, he hadn’t personally beheaded people — they had specialists to do that. And did he have any regrets? ‘When you get captured you look at it and ask: “What is all this for?”,’ said the man, flat and empty, like really all that murdering and crucifixion had been a bit of a fag which, yeah, come to think of it probably hadn’t been the best career move.
Firstly, the West needs to welcome in more refugees from North Africa and the Middle East – lots more – and learn to see them not as a “burden” but as a “benefit.”
Secondly, instead of confronting Islamist terror with the unhelpful language of hate and military hardware, it needs to find a kinder, gentler, funnier way of winning them over – using comedians like Amy Schumer, Chris Rock, and Sacha Baron Cohen.
Bono was delivering his wisdom to the Senate appropriations subcommittee on Capitol Hill.
“It’s like, you speak violence, you speak their language. But you laugh at them when they are goose-stepping down the street and it takes away their power. So I am suggesting that the Senate send in Amy Schumer and Chris Rock and Sacha Baron Cohen, thank you.”
Amy Schumer and Sacha Baron Cohen are both Jewish – a faith to which ISIS (and Al Qaeda and Boko Haram et al) have not hitherto shown themselves to be particularly sympathetic. On the contrary last year ISIS announced that they were planning a Second Holocaust in which all the world’s Jews would be extinguished. Perhaps Bono is under the impression that Amy Schumer’s wit would grant her an exemption – though up and until now there has been little evidence that ISIS has much of a sense of humour.
Nor do Islamic terror groups respond terribly well to homosexuals like Bruno, the camp Austrian played by Baron Cohen; or even to people who look like they might be homosexuals, such as Borat, when he is wearing his mankini. Their preferred method of dealing with them – in accordance with their scriptures – is to throw them off high buildings or bury them beneath a wall.
Ooh tricky one. Before I give my answer, can I just make one thing clear: I’m not in any doubt of the devilish capabilities of Putin and his Federal Security Service (FSB). As the detailed report last week by High Court judge Sir Robert Owen made clear, they were almost certainly responsible for the clandestine assassination using Polonium-210 of the naturalised UK citizen Alexander Litvinenko. It also seems more than likely that theymurdered Gareth Williams, the MI6 agent whose body was found mysteriously zipped into a sports bag.
Putin, quite evidently, would not be any liberal Westerner’s idea of the perfect Russian president: everything from his killing of journalists and political opponents to his monstrous corruption to his meddling in Ukraine (and even Western allies like Estonia) is proof enough of that.
All that said, the answer is still b)
And I think that may explain the curious response to a BBC radio phone-in I heard the other day where callers were giving their verdict on the Litvinenko report. Basically – and much to the chagrin of the show’s presenter – none of them gave a damn. They thought it was a Russian problem, not a British one. Yes, Litvinenko may have been a UK citizen – but he was also a former FSB agent. This is just the sort of thing that happens in the murky world of espionage, went the callers’ thinking. We’ve got bigger things to worry about.
Now I’m not saying they’re right to be quite so blasé about Putin. Clearly, it is an arrogant provocation when foreign intelligence services murder our own citizens — putting other citizens at risk of Polonium-210 poisoning — on our soil. Also, Litvinenko was a decent man — with a wife and son — doing good work exposing the links between organised crime and the Putin regime.
But I do understand the sentiment behind it which seems to me to show a grasp of Realpolitik quite beyond that of our naive political leadership.
It’s an easy mistake to have made. Often when people are short of food and water their natural instinct is to strap on a suicide vest, pick up a Kalashnikov and drive to Paris in order to kill a few hundred people as an important gesture designed to raise public awareness of the urgent need to reduce anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions before someone gets hurt.
But in this case, Friedman, the Prince of Wales, Charlotte Church – and also Graham Linehan, the Irish scriptwriter of the brilliant comedy series Father Ted – are wrong in their assumption.
We know this because of a stubborn fact called meteorological evidence.
As Roger Andrews demonstrates here in great detail the “drought” that supposedly ravaged Syria between 2006 and 2011 and drove thousands of ordinary Syrians into the arms of ISIS and Al Qaeda never actually happened.
Take Aleppo – where, according to the “drought” theory, conditions got so bad that thousands were driven off the land:
Last January, it was reported that crop failures ….. just in the farming villages around the city of Aleppo, had led 200,000 rural villagers to leave for the cities.
Average annual rainfall during the 2006-2011 period was only 9% lower than average annual rainfall over the preceding 55 years. The driest year during the period (2011) was only the seventh driest on record and 2006-2011 was only the 13th driest six-year period on record. Clearly the crop failures in the farming villages around Aleppo – which undoubtedly occurred – weren’t caused by a drought of Biblical proportions. In fact there doesn’t seem to have been a drought at Aleppo at all.
Yes, in some parts of Syria it’s true there were much greater falls in average annual rainfall. But not in any of the main crop-growing areas.
Now, it would seem, I’m going to have to wheel out yet another piece on the subject for the benefit of the dur-brain at the back. The dur-brain’s name is Windsor – Charles Windsor, aka The Prince of Wales – and here’s what he had to say in an interview with Sky News at the weekend.
Asked whether there was a link between climate change, Syria and terrorism, the Prince said:
“Some of us were saying 20 something years ago that if we didn’t tackle these issues, you would see ever greater conflict over scarce resources and ever greater difficulties over drought, and the accumulating effect of climate change which means that people have to move.”
“And in fact there’s very good evidence indeed that one of the major reasons for this horror in Syria, funnily enough, was a drought that lasted for about five or six years, which meant that huge numbers of people in the end had to leave the land but increasingly they came into the cities.”
Coming less than a week after the massacre in Paris, the Prince’s remarks might seem not just warped, thick, irresponsible and hysterical but also crassly insensitive.
We have only ourselves to blame for the Paris outrage, Salon has argued, again – just in case it failed to offend enough people the first time it salivated over the ISIS atrocity as payback time for the West and conservatives especially.
This time the preening apologist for terror is one Patrick L Smith, Salon’s “foreign affairs columnist” and a “longtime correspondent abroad, chiefly for the International Herald Tribune and The New Yorker” as well as “an essayist, critic and editor”.
His piece is headlined:
We brought this on ourselves: After Paris, it is time to square our “values” with our history
The West’s behaved horrifically in Middle East for decades. We can’t be surprised by Paris. Let’s look in a mirror
Smith has certainly stared long and hard into the mirror. And it’s clear he’s infatuated with what he sees.
You can tell from the (cackhanded attempt at) grandiloquence of his opening sentence:
Another horrific attack emanates from the shattered, shredded Middle East into the beating hearts of Western civilization.
And from priceless passages like this:
“Is this a September 11 for the French?” my other half asked as we watched the news last night. “Let there be no question,” I replied.
Yep, because it’s all about you, isn’t it, Patrick? You’re kind of like Gore Vidal would have been had been wiser, better connected and more fantastically opinionated and pleased with himself.
There was one part of Baroness Warsi’s resignation letter I admired: that was when, just after she’d condemned the Coalition’s inaction over Gaza, she brought the full weight of her righteous indignation to bear on Britain’s abject failure to stop the Yezidis being massacred in Iraq.
No not really. a) the Yezidis aren’t being killed by Jews, but rather by Muslims, which I guess doesn’t make it such a big deal and b) I doubt Baroness Warsi has even heard of the Yezidis.
But then, to be fair, few people had until their bodies started being posted up in pictures on Twitter, often minus their heads, and with grinning ISIS jihadis posing behind them.
If you want to know more about the Yezidis (or Yazidis, as they are also spelt), then this excellent piece by Sean Thomas is a good place to start.