Rod Liddle

Rise of the atrocity exhibitionists

16 June 2016

1:00 PM

16 June 2016

1:00 PM

Life is speeded up. It used to be that when a hideous atrocity occurred people waited a day or two, even a week, before co-opting it into their political armoury. Now it happens while the smell of cordite is still in the air and before the blood has dried. There is a breathtaking shamelessness about it and a certain narcissism, if not outright solipsism and an eagerness to demand a sort of acquired victim status.

The revolting murders in an Orlando nightclub are a case in point. Some 49 people dead and 53 injured after a Muslim, presumably what we are enjoined to call a radical Muslim, ran amok with a gun. Suddenly infused with a gratifying sense of outrage, the reliably idiotic left-wing columnist Owen Jones had a temper tantrum while reviewing the papers on Sky News — and stormed off the set, apparently because neither the presenter nor the other reviewer, Julia Hartley-Brewer, would accept that the tragedy was all about Owen.

This was an attack upon an LGBT community, Jones insisted — needlessly, as it happens, because everybody had accepted that it was an attack upon an LGBT community and the excellent Hartley-Brewer had made that specific point several times. But none of it was enough for Owen. The only thing that mattered was that it was an attack upon gay people, and so it was a kind of singularity, an atrocity which Owen, being gay, could have to himself. The fact that a loathing of homosexuality is but one of the many problematic facets of Islam — along with misogyny, a contempt for those who are not Muslim, a hatred of Jewish people — was something which Jones could not accept. Presumably because this contradicted his resolutely fixed mindset that Muslims are oppressed people and are therefore as one in the struggle for liberation along with gay and transgendered people.

This epic delusion is shared by many on the adolescent left, despite the Islamic State flinging gays off tall buildings, despite the vile sentences — including the death penalty — handed down to people who are gay in every single Islamic state, despite the imams in mosques across our own country insisting that homosexuality is a grotesque sin against Allah, despite the fact that a majority of British Muslims wish for homosexuality to be criminalised. Despite all that, they still have to cleave to their bizarre delusion, or else the entire fabric of their ideology begins to crumble. And so Owen flounced off. He is not terribly bright — something for which he should not be blamed, I suppose. And yet he was not alone in claiming the atrocity for himself.

For soft liberal commentators Orlando was all about gun control, of course. Those Americans, when will they learn, etc. This is an uncontroversial response to successive massacres of innocent people in the United States, not all of them carried out by Muslims by any means. And of course there may be some truth to it — but it is a very long way from being the whole truth, or even the most important truth, about what happened in Orlando.

Other liberal commentators accepted that Islam as an ideology had a bit of a problem with homosexuality, but suggested that Christian conservatives also had a problem with homosexuality. Well, sure; they may have doubts about gay marriage and gay priests and even homosexuality being equivalent to heterosexuality, and about kids being taught how brilliant being gay is from the age of four. But the approach to homosexuality, even from the most god-fearing Ulster or Appalachian Presbyterian is not quite as, um, vigorous as that which pertains in every Muslim country, is it? There’s not really an equivalence, is there?

Meanwhile the right was delighted to point the finger at Muslims. Most notably, Donald Trump called for President Obama to resign and then repeated his call for no more Muslims to be allowed into the country. In another gratuitous bit of BBC bias, the corporation’s New York correspondent, Nick Bryant — that man who always looks as if he’s straining to defecate — suggested that people would find Trump’s comments distasteful. Yeah? You asked ’em, Nick? Don’t bet on it. I suspect it will have met with total agreement from about 50 to 60 per cent of the US electorate.

But still, Trump had nothing to say about the laxity with which his country allows people access to guns. And still less about the fact that these were indeed gay people, in the main, who had been murdered — a section of the population of whom he has not been altogether supportive in the past. Although somewhat less slighting than his chief rival for the Republican nomination, Ted Cruz.

But Trump also blithely ignored the fact that the vast majority of American Muslims do not commit atrocities, against gays or indeed anybody else. My suspicion is that the majority of American Muslims have views about gay people which would roughly accord with those espoused by Mr Cruz — so why persecute them? When the Columbine school massacre occurred, was Mr Trump in favour of banning any more lower-middle-class white Christian adolescents from entering the United States? Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton and the liberal US news channels tried desperately hard to avoid using the word ‘Muslim’ or ‘Islam’ anywhere in their broadcasts, as of course did our own BBC.

The murders in Orlando were directed at LGBT people: it was, if you wish to use the word, a homophobic attack. It followed the radical Islamic notion of attacking, murderously, what it sees as emblems of western infidel decadence — tourism, rock concerts, restaurants, emancipated women, capitalism, sexual licentiousness and so on. Omar Mateen was aided in his quest for carnage by the ease with which people in the USA can buy weapons. Islam — not radical Islam, or extremist Islam, but Islam — provided the ideology behind his murderous intent. The majority of American Muslims will have been appalled at his actions; elsewhere in the Muslim world he will have been widely applauded. That’s the truth of it, isn’t it?

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