Monday, 30 September 2013

For Islamist terrorists, the pleasure of slaughtering the innocent is an end in itself

There have been some strange reactions to the recent orgy of Islamist violence (there was more slaughter yesterday in northeast Nigeria, Iraq and Peshawar). During last week’s edition of Question Time some woman in the audience apparently asked why, whenever terrorism is debated, we end up talking about Islam. (Search me, love.) Then there’s the BBC’s bizarre refusal to use the word terrorist to describe the terrorists who butchered 67 people in a Nairobi shopping mall last week. Then the Guardian (that organ of malign compassion) informed us that expressing outrage at those killings amounted to “moral masturbation” – which is an odd thing to say, given the paper has a collective cow at the prospect of families in which no member can be bothered to find work having to exist on a mere £25,000 a year of other people’s money.

By God, there are some weird people out there, particularly on the Left. But few are as  weird as the terrorists themselves. Reading about the horrors they perpetrate tends to produce a sort of cramp in our imaginative faculties. These creatures’ actions are so alien to the moral universe the vast majority of us inhabit that we can’t even begin to understand the psychological processes that lead to such seemingly purposeless savagery. Even calling them creatures seems wrong, because few animals kill for pleasure, and they, of course, can't employ rational reflection to help control their bloodlust – they’re acting according to the dictates of their nature.

Brendan O’Neill, the editor of the online magazine spiked, has written an excellent piece on the Telegraph blogsite on this very topic. You can read it here – it’s immensely thought-provoking.

I know this is going to sound horribly flippant - but I do honestly wonder whether the sort of Hollywood blockbusters we all watch these days, featuring ever-more deranged groups of terrorist killers coming up with increasingly grandiose schemes for killing ever-increasing numbers of civilians, haven't got something to do with the new depths of savagery being displayed by those who slaughter in the name of Islam. When real-life terrorists perpetrate some inconcievably disgusting horror, is Hollywood inadvertently goading these pathetic misfits to plumb new depths of barbarism by depicting imaginary attacks involving ever greater ingenuity, boldness and brutality? While the rest of us sit in the cinema or at home, rooting for the good guys up there on the screen, are there sizable numbers of  testosterone-fuelled young men watching the same film in a state of near-sexual arousal, cheering on the monsters?

Arguments as to whether screen violence leads to real-life violence have been going on for years, of course. Liberals tend to deny it vehemently, while illogically assuring us that the use of racial epthets inevitably fuels racial violence. I'm not sure whether there is a correlation - for instance, child-murder features in TV crime drama on a seemingly nightly basis, but the number of actual child killings seems to remain fairly constant. The difference between the murder of individual children and  terrorist acts, though, is that the latter tend to rely on the existence of organisations to take care of logistics and to spread the poisonous philosophy to justify such acts - and, of course, on the existence of  participants who don't necessarily expect to get away with it.

The thing that really stood out for me in O’Neill’s piece was the question of whether it's any longer acceptable for broadcasters to assume - as they invariably do - that that terrorist mass-murderers are committing violence in order to achieve certain ends. If you call terrorists "extremists" - as the BBC does - you imply that they're seeking to adress the same issues as more moderate co-believers (albeit using more direct means), whereas It seems increasingly evident that the sheer pleasure of committing violence is an end in itself.

After all, which ends – even in the deranged, nightmarish mental landscape inhabited by these pathetic, twisted demons - could possibly justify such disgusting means? What sort of world does some loveless freak who thinks it’s okay to toss a grenade into a children's cookery class wish to create? When they imagine the future their present actions are designed to bring about, what - with that inward eye which is the bliss of solitude - do they picture? A world of love, happiness, joy, creativity, harmony, peace and kindness? In their vision, is anyone actually – you know – enjoying themselves in a way that doesn't involve harming other people? Or are they only able to imagine an extension of the reality they’ve actually created, full of smashed bodies and severed limbs and death and blood and screaming and fear and horror and anguish? Alternatively, is it conceivable that they’re actually deluded enough to believe that spreading misery in this world will result in them shagging virgins and generally living in bliss for eternity in the next?

Or, in reality, somewhere deep in the recesses of these repellent goblins’ hate-filled psyches, do they imagine that destroying societies most of whose members are able to experience some measure of love and contentment will somehow alleviate their own dreadful psychological pain?

I once got into trouble for (quite deliberately) producing a live talk-show in Northern Ireland in which we asked whether the IRA was genuinely fighting for a united Ireland, or whether it wasn't really just a loose collection of depraved, heavily-armed gangsters who maimed and killed people because they got a kick out of it. Similarly, when young German terrorists in the '70s claimed they were committing slaughter on behalf of oppressed Palestinians, I didn't a believe a word of it - they were just fascists doing what fascists enjoy doing. I've always suspected that pretending that evil-doers who profess to have political aims can somehow be stopped from committing evil if only we can figure out what they want and giving them all or part of it simply distracts our leaders from the business of hunting the scum down and destroying them.

1 comment:

  1. President Karzai obviously does not agree with your final sentence. Now that his term of office has only 6-months to run and before he and his extended family repair to Gstaad or wherever with their vast financial haul he has decided that Nato should have been fighting the Taleban in Pakistan and not Helmand and the whole "affair" has been a failure etc etc. I wonder what the families of all the killed and maimed Nato soldiers thought when they heard the oleaginous little twerp blithely state that the Agfhan government should now seriously consider a power-sharing deal with the Taleban. Abbottabad II...?

    Anyway, there is at last a "feel-good" story coming out of the Muslim world. Malala Yousafsi, the little school-girl brutally cut down by the Taleban "freedom-fighters" in Pakistan, is now in the process of being beatified by the media [through no fault of her own] and is being considered for the Nobel Peace Prize [ by the same bunch of Norwegian nincompoops who awarded it to the EU last year]. I think we may have a new Mother Teresa or Nelson Mandella on our hands. In times like these, I often wonder what Baroness Ashton is thinking because she knows a thing or two about Middle East politics?