Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Nobody Wants To Say This

Two men in south London committed an especially ugly murder earlier today. They drove into a man in their car before getting out to kill him with kitchen knives. This sort of violence is sordid, vile, tragic…. and bears the crude stamp of our mammalian order.

For every line of poetry written, a rape committed; for every school of philosophy, a solipsistic tribe; for every great act of charity, a 'hot' murder.

This sort of murder can be driven by anger, jealousy, pride, brute aggression, 'honour', tribalism, fanaticism - our 'ugly side'. Much of the work of human civilisation is to combat these characteristics and, in doing so, 'better' ourselves. Today's attack is tragic, yes - foremost, perhaps, because in its brutality and stupidity it is so tragically human.

Thus far you have probably agreed with me. In the next paragraphs, though, I move into murkier waters. Early reports suggest this was a religiously driven murder - the killers shouted "Allah Akbar" and described their violence as (their) "god's will". Not my words - theirs.

Murders such of this may happen because of a religion, in spite of a religion or irrespective of a religion. They may, in theory, be driven by extreme forms of Christianity, Hinduism or Buddhism. They may be prevented by observance of Islam. Amongst these various hypotheticals, though, we must collectively admit an apparent truth of our zeitgeist: in 2013, Islam is the religion most often tied up with such sad acts.

If this is true and we don't admit it - and it seems to be true; and there is a prevalent reluctance in 'liberal Britain' to admit that it is - we inadvertently hand the debate over to people with far less worthy intentions than ourselves.

This debate is important. Crucial. We need to look at the link between this purported religion of peace and the violence with which it so often seems to associate itself. We need to identify and single out the elements of it that lend themselves towards violence; we need to look at how it is distorted and misused to promote acts which run entirely against the grain of what the Prophet actually preached. We need to accept that there are different Muslim communities; we need them to accept that; we need them in the debate too.

The fanatics who promote religious and/or cultural 'warfare' take every opportunity to make their voices heard. The response from parts of our own society is ugly, unapologetic racism in turn. Intelligence, between these two bawling voices of ignorance, sits in stunned silence. Is this a situation that we can afford to maintain?

That's all I'll say for now.

3 comments:

  1. Sam are you kopping out a bit in the 5th paragraph here. Hinduism certainly has issues to address Christianity very likely does though its evolved sufficiently perhaps to dress them up as something else. What atroc┼čties are committed in the name of Buddhism these daysi if indeed they ever were (though I confess ... not in the biblical sense as it were or might at least have been!!) Call a spade a spade a spade mate (ur a Yorkshireman now!!!) and don't pander to the Cultural Relativists ... the Enemy No.1. Extremists are extremists and wherever they are so they should be called .... I might even quote your favourite tabloid and say they should be Named and Shamed. Ok attempting to shame them is about as productive as trying to "debate" with them as any sufficiently naive liberal should try to do Perhaps the "Nasty Party" are more attuned to the reality here!!!!!!

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    1. "What atroc┼čties are committed in the name of Buddhism these daysi if indeed they ever were..."

      Well... there were these recent atrocities in Sri Lanka: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/04/02/sril-a02.html

      As well as violent Buddhist attacks on Muslims in Myanmar: http://www.voanews.com/content/burmese-buddhist-extremists-criticized-for-spreading-hatred-of-muslims/1658403.html

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  2. I couldn't agree with this post more. There is that tangible connection, and though it's clearly a minority, I think it's something that we - as a multiracial, multi-faith nation - ought to sit down and talk about.

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