A huge number of nonsense goes around after atrocities like those in Paris. The media and social media are full of them. I thought it might be helpful to list the worst.
- ‘This attack has nothing to do with Islam’: obviously not true.See here.
- ‘Islam means peace’: Very obviously not true. Incidentally the word actually means ‘submission’. Again see here.
- ‘This attack was an attack on Islam’: No. It was an attack on the people of Paris who were going to watch a football match or a concert or eating in a restaurant.
- ‘MuslimsAreNotTerrorists’: Today’s leading hashtag on Twitter. Again, clearly wrong. While nobody thinks all Muslims are terrorists all the terrorists detonating at the moment are Muslims.
- ‘The vast majority of Muslims condemn actions like this’ / ‘How insulting to expect Muslims to condemn such atrocities’: A poll carried out after the last terrorist attacks in Paris in January found that 27pc of British Muslims felt “some sympathy for the motives behind the Charlie Hebdo attacks” with a further 10pc saying they weren’t sure or wouldn’t say. Sure 68pc agreed that acts of violence against those who publish images of Mohammed can “never be justified”, and that’s a majority. But that 27pc is a problem, no?
- ‘Don’t you realise that this plays into Isis’s hands’: ‘This’ being any analysis of the facts which goes beyond the level of futile emoting and fatuous hashtag-ery. If you identify the ideological component you are ‘playing into the hands of Isis’. If you identify what drives Isis and where their ideology comes from you are ‘feeding the Isis narrative.’ The only solution would appear to be to lie about what is happening. Fortunately most politicians and commentators remain happy to do this.
- ‘This only benefits Marine Le Pen’: The BBC correspondent Hugh Schofield has just done this one, writing that this ‘is the other terrorist aim. No-one would be happier than them if the National Front’s Marine Le Pen were to sweep to power.’ Personally I would suggest that Isis’s own statements and everything else we know about them suggests they take little interest in French domestic politics. The French people will elect Marine Le Pen if they think no other leader will sort out the issues which need to be addressed. That isn’t playing into any Isis plan – it’s just one tragic result of the comprehensive failure of the European mainstream.
- ‘All religions are the problem’: This is the atheist social media coward’s way out. It means that after Isis start executing people in a Paris theatre the British government should close down Anglican state schools. The problem is not with ‘all’ religions. Sure, all religions have had their problems, but responding to the actions of Islamists by saying the religion of the Quakers and Jainists should be scrutinised is just a weasel-y way to avoid the real issue.
- ‘Refugees welcome’: Woe betide anyone who connects the problems of Islamic terrorism with the unprecedented inflow into our continent of refugees and economic migrants from the Muslim world. This is obviously deeply racist, and the only answer to an atrocity like yesterday should be to open our arms even wider to the Muslim world and bring even more people in. Reports from Paris currently suggest that at least one of the perpetrators of last night’s atrocity was a Syrian refugee. Still, news like this that the first plane-load of Syrian refugees will be landing into Glasgow later this week must be only welcomed as the only good news on a dark day. Concern about whether we have any capability whatsoever to work out who is who, or whether we should let all these people in would of course just be fiercely and unforgivably racist.