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Thursday, July 07, 2005


...and one more thing

I'd like on this day of horrors to share with you a joke that a South African of my acquaintance told me in September 2001; I think in fact this was the first joke I was ever told after 9/11.

The year is 2050. Little Johnny, a precocious boy, has been reading some old book and has come across a reference that puzzles him. So he asks his wise old Grandpa:

JOHNNY: Grandpa, what were the Twin Towers?

GRANDPA: Oh, they were two very tall buildings in New York City. They were destroyed half a century ago by Moslem terrorists.




JOHNNY: Grandpa, what were Moslems?

I remember my clearest memory of 9/11 is dread: but not primarily dread of al-Qa'ida and their merry gang of private-pilot medievalists, or naked existential dread at the thought of so much death, though those were certainly present. No, what I felt most was an utter, scalp-prickling, bowels-liquefying, scrotum-retracting dread of omigod WTF will the Americans do NOW? There are things in human garments that accuse George W Bush of being a crazed warmonger. Well, a few days after 9/11 I read an op-ed piece that, in effect, urged the US government to demand that every ISP on Earth give the NSA complete access to its communications, and seriously suggesting that hold-outs should be destroyed by cruise missiles. By heaven, at this moment I stand amazed at Dubya's moderation...

(Oh and BTW the author of that little piece of "ugly American imperialism"? It wasn't Mark Steyn. It wasn't Ann Coulter. And, AFAIK, it wasn't anybody remotely connected with FOX NEWS. It was written by John Keegan, a British military historian and a former professor at that neo-conservative think-tank known as Princeton College. Lest we forget, that's how normal people felt after 9/11; GWB could have nuked the entire mid-East into a sheet of glass and nobody other than Dennis^H^H^H^H^H^H Justin Raimondo would have cared to raise a protest). (No link to him. I don't believe darling Dennis is the sort of person this blog should be linking to. I dare say you could Google him, if you felt the urge to wallow in his vile, Jooooooo-hating filth).

It's a sad fact of life that whilst decent people have in their list of concepts things like "benefit of the doubt" and "try to see the other fellow's point of view" and "who am I to cast the first stone" and "live and let live" and a whole bunch of ideas like that that make civilisation possible - assholes (a category that encompasses all divisions of mankind and includes a fair number of white Anglo Christians, in my experience)... assholes see all these nice, friendly concepts as just being another way of saying "I'm a wimp; I surrender".

The asshole can therefore rob, cheat, abuse, betray and generally dis' the decent person a number of times without any retaliation, because it takes quite a lot to convince a decent person that somebody is an irredemable asshole... but one day the asshole will cross a line, which may not have been obvious to either party in advance, and it becomes obvious that the asshole is, in fact, nothing more than an asshole, and all bets are off. In one of his novels CS Lewis described how a decent person deals with a true, irredeemable asshole: "He fought him with a clean hatred, as though for the first time in his life he knew what hatred was for, why God made that emotion". (Something like that. Ransom whacking the Un-Man in Perelandra, if anyone wants to look it up).

I've sometimes thought that al-Qaida's entire silly jihad might be one colossal exercise in Suicide by Cop. And by that I mean, they know that they can't face the modern world; that they don't have the balls and the intellect to face the challenge of adapting their faith to the challenges of modern living: as Iraqis and Afghanis and Lebanese have done and, I do believe, some day soon Syrians and Egyptians and Iranians and maybe, who knows, even Saudis will do. No, they cannot face that challenge, and so choose death, by provoking the very people they know will come after them, and hunt them down, and grant them grace. Well, to all jihadis I say what a better man than me once said, "If you wish to die for your cause, then we aim to please". Inshallah, most of them will come to their senses first, and the rest will take few innocents along with them. But whatever it takes, boots on the ground in Qom or mushroom clouds in the sky over Al Qasim - don't think we won't do it. Not just for us, but for all the good people they're holding hostage right now. And I don't just mean the Quattrochis and the Woods and the Bigleys. I mean all the Arabs, all the Pakistanis and Bangladeshis and North Africans and everybody else that these miserable savages have prevented from living their lives.

Fifty-some years ago Italy, Germany and Japan were controlled by fascists. Today, I have Italian, German and Japanese friends, and the only reason that was possible is because the decent people of that time gave their all to make sure that the twisted idealogies that held Italy, Germany and Japan hostage were annihilated, rendered so thoroughly dead that today their meagre handful of adherents lack the credibility to be evil: they are merely pathetic. See, I'd like to think that when that conversation really does occur in 2050, the last line will go something like this:

JOHNNY'S FRIEND IMRAN: Uh, sir, what were terrorists?

Good night, London. Today, at least, I'm proud to live here.

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