Were you moved by the demonstration of European unity in
I wasn’t, because I’m innately suspicious of such public outpourings of grief and anger, however spontaneous or apparently well intentioned. All the more so when they are led by politicians whose attraction to heart-felt spontaneity and emotional sincerity must always be held open to suspicion.
Remember the mass displays of public grief that memorialised the death of Diana, the once Princess of Wales? (A fatality that also occurred in
These are not the observations of a cynic. Perhaps this time, in
But having said that, the politicians who walked on Sunday with linked arms and defiant looks must be shaken as well as stirred. The reason is that the forces of Islamic extremism operate outside the normal tiresome and petty realms of national political discourse.
Politicians are adept – in some cases inept – at dealing with opponents who demand more freedom, or a better standard of living, or improved health services, or tighter immigration, or whatever. They may not always have the right answers, but at the very least they can usually manage to put up some kind of defence, moral or practical, for whatever topic it may be that’s unpopular with voters, if only by pandering to them.
But what, they must now be asking themselves, can be done with dissidents whose creed, whether the authorised ancient version or some weird modern corruption of it, actually demands less freedom and an implied lower standard of living, apparently not remotely concerned with matters of societal affluence?
That the politicians don’t have the answers at least puts them, for a change, in company with the rest of us.
What the consequences of the violence in
Heightened security is of course appropriate, but it doesn’t make the ‘problem’ go away – especially as the causes of the problem have yet to be identified in terms that western voters can fully grasp, intellectually and morally. Me among them, I might add.
Meanwhile, frustrations are vented with an unreasoned if understandable anger manifested by calls for some kind of counter-jihad – which is precisely what ISIL and other insurgencies are hoping for. But we insist that such an unholy war doesn’t involve ‘boots on the ground’. We’re still thanking our leaders for ending the interventions in
I don’t have the answer, but the politician who does will be a 21st century hero. I don’t see too many of those waiting in the wings.
And as much as I favour unrestricted freedom of expression, I hope that the survivors at Charlie Hebdo will give crude provocation a rest in favour of real satire. God knows there are enough targets.
Better make that Goodness knows.
Until then, je ne suis pas Charlie.