Did you hear about theMuslim security guard called Zouheir at the Stade de France in Paris who, like, singlehandedly foiled what would have been the worst terrorist incident of Friday night?
Of course you did!
Perhaps you even felt as strongly as the Tweeter below did that it was so important the story deserved to go viral. As indeed it duly did. Among those who eagerly repeated it was that much-loved disseminator of truth, Piers Morgan, in a Mail on Sunday piece which since mysteriously appears to have been taken down.
Why did it go viral? Because, as we know, quite the most important thing after any new terrorist atrocity committed by the Religion of Peace is for all right thinking people — renowned anti-gun campaigner and human rights crusader Piers Morgan, for example — to demonstrate how totally and utterly “nothing to do with Islam” they know the incident to have been.
Hence, for example, the #illridewithyou hashtag which emerged in 2014 when a deranged Islamist murdered two hostages in a Sydney cafe. Never mind the dead (cafe manager Tori Johnson and barrister and mother of three Katrina Dawson): the real victims of the incident, as all sensitive people understood, were all those Muslims in Australia who might now feel they were being given funny looks and somehow held responsible for this inexplicable act by one of their co-religionists which, of course, had “nothing to do with Islam”™.
Does the West yet have the resolve to deal with the Islamist threat?
Douglas Murray thinks not. As he argues here and here it will take more than the deaths of a mere 128 people in Paris – and the wounding of many more – to concentrate the minds of our pusillanimous leaders as they seek to persuade us for the umpteenth time that this has “nothing to do with Islam” which is, of course, a “religion of peace.”
But they are being far too pessimistic. Over the next hours, days and weeks, we can be confident that the countries of the free West, their political leaders, their media commentators, their celebrities and their “communities” will come up with all manner of important gestures and statements absolutely guaranteed to strike terror into the hearts of Islamists everywhere. Here, based on our experience of previous atrocities from the 7/7 bombings in London to the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris, are some of the bold moves we can expect. Some of them are happening already.
People dusting off their schoolboy French, waving Le Tricolor, lighting up the Empire State Building in red, white and blue (see also: candle lit vigils), decorating your Facebook profile with a French flag
When news came through of the Paris atrocities, they danced in the streets of Raqqa. But when they saw the Twitter feeds: ordinary people across the world saying stuff like “Vive la France” and “Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite” (without the acute accents obviously because how do you actually do those on an iPhone?), they realised they could never win. Just like they realised last time when, for all of a month, people declared: “Je suis Charlie Hebdo”.
After the Charlie Hebdo massacre, Secretary of State John Kerry brought achingly-sweet-yet-slightly-depressed-sounding hippy crooner James Taylor to Paris as America’s peace ambassador. So moved was France’s Islamist terror community by Taylor’s performance of You Got A Friend that it managed to refrain from killing a single infidel – in Paris at least – for nearly 11 whole months. Imagine then, how much more powerfully effective it will be if, this time round, Kerry comes back not just with Taylor but with the entire membership of the legendary Laurel Canyon folk scene. An inspirational concert featuring Joni Mitchell, Carole King, David Crosby, Steven Stills and any surviving members of the Mamas and Papas with a strong message of Seventies-style peace and love – perhaps bolstered, for younger Jihadists, by a guest appearance from Mumford and Sons – could well delay further atrocities for as long as a year.
Erudite columnists explaining that Islamism does not represent an “existential threat” to the West
Actually, it’s really not such a bad thing when four heavily armed terrorists infiltrate a rock concert packed with 1,500 young people innocently enjoying themselves and then bump them off with shotguns and grenades and finally suicide belts. You see the thing about Islamism, as sundry learned commentators will explain in newspapers and on TV, is that it does not pose the same “existential threat” to the West that, say, Nazi Germany did or Stalin’s Soviet Union did. So you see, it’s all OK in fact.
We don’t know how the Sydney siege is going to end yet but of one thing we can be pretty sure: the main concern of Australia’s national broadcaster ABC will not be the suffering and fear experienced by those innocent people who have been held hostage; rather it will be that there might be some anti-Muslim backlash.
How do we know this? First, because ABC is so left wing it makes the BBC look like Fox News. Second, because this is how sensitive, progressive types always respond to incidents of this kind. (One of the BBC’s first reactions after the 7/7 bus and tube bombings was to despatch various reporters to Muslim “communities” to canvas them for evidence of growing Islamophobia).
Thirdly, because it has already started with a Twitter hashtag campaign called #Illridewithyou.
The story of how the campaign started is, admittedly, quite touching. An Australian woman called Rachael Jacobs saw a Muslim woman commuter on the train looking “isolated and fearful” and apparently trying to remove her headscarf so as to avoid attracting attention. Ms Jacobs approached her and said: “Leave it on. I’ll walk with you.”
Individual acts of kindness like this are lovely. But when they mutate into Twitter hashtag campaigns they acquire a smug, bullying sanctimoniousness which not only demeans the original act but which, worse, skews the debate about Islamism in a very unhelpful, self-defeating way.
One of the more notable facts about Islamist terror incidents in the West, be they 9/11 and the Boston marathon bombings or the 7/7 tube and bus bombings or the Bali bomb which killed so many young Australians, is how very little they have changed public attitudes to Muslims in general.
Which is to say that – despite the best efforts of organisations like Tell Mama to prove otherwise with dodgy stastistics – there has been NO significant anti-Muslim backlash and NO outbreak of “Islamophobia” in the West. People are more than capable of distinguishing between Islamist extremists and the broader Muslim community and – so far at any rate – have behaved towards the latter with just the sort of tolerance, sympathy and generosity of spirit displayed by Ms Jacobs towards that commuter.
What that Twitter hashtag campaign does is subtly to imply otherwise: “There are loads of bigots out there who’d like to take it out on innocent Muslims. But I’m not one of them. I’m lovely and caring and I’m bloody great,” it says.
Well I’m sure you are lovely and caring and bloody great, all you “Illridewithyou” luvvies. But you’re also – in my experience – so delighted by your own sensitivity, so certain that you hold the moral high ground that you feel it enables you to duck all responsibility for engaging with the Islamism problem seriously.
Being nice to peace-loving, law-abiding Muslims is a necessary condition for putting an end to Islamist extremism – but it is definitely not a sufficient one. You can perform as many random acts of kindness as you like – but it ain’t going to cut much ice with the girl-kidnappers of Boko Haram or the decapitators of Islamic State or the rogue operators like the Sydney cafe hostage-taker. They’ll just take you for a sap. Or, as Osama once put it, for a “weak horse.”