Stockholm: Same Old Script


Don’t bother turning off the lights on the Eiffel Tower, or turning on the lights on the Brandenburg Gate, or lighting a candle and photographing it poignantly.

After the Islamist atrocity in Stockholm last week, does anybody still care about these overly familiar, increasingly mechanical routines? It looks like theatre now. Like a jaded actor sadly going through the motions. Projecting his lines, pitch perfect and with not a vowel out of place, but signifying absolutely nothing of consequence. Or nothing other than that we can all shuffle on, herd-like, to the next phase in the worn out, melancholy sequence of response. Which is to do nothing, as if this were all the most natural thing in the world, like paying the bills or forgetting to put the rubbish out.

Go to work. Change the subject. Wait to see who gets killed next.

And even if some of those tweeted platitudes and Facebook pleas for something-or-other are actually sincere, then so what? What’s their purpose? Anesthetization? Therapy? Just read, retweet, and forget about the dismembered bodies, and the lives ripped apart.

Or maybe that other tribe of peculiar airheads will make an appearance. The ones who dribble on predictably about how all religions are the same, or that ‘the Right’ is coming to get us, or who perversely, perniciously wrench reality out of shape so that actually it’s us, the people being attacked, who are to blame for the fact that we’re being attacked. Because of imperialism, or privilege, or not caring enough about savage, shoddy superstitions of a variety we outgrew centuries ago. Or whatever the current charge might be.

I say us, but it’s obviously not me or anyone reading this that got torn in half by several tons of metal in Stockholm. And it’s not any of the cold-hearted con artists, or the misguided naifs, or anybody else that chooses to distract from the truth of the matter, ramp up the danger, and stand in the way of putting together a responsible course of action. The only role such people serve is to complicate a difficult situation further, leading to an increased possibility of yet more bilious carnage.

People like the Irish Times’ correspondent in Sweden, who wrote an article which, rather than focusing on the actual horrors taking place there, chose instead to ignore the bodies, and warn us of a hypothetical future in which the far-right makes political gains. As if it were the far-right that had driven a truck into innocent shoppers, or left a grotesque trail of misery along Westminster Bridge, or gunned down concert goers and cartoonists in Paris, or blown themselves up in an Egyptian church, or hacked, knifed, raped, maimed and murdered their way into the global consciousness. And as if using tragedy to push an agenda—while dismissing genuine shock and fear—isn’t exactly the kind of repugnant behaviour that will drive rational, intelligent people as far away from the calculating, self-interested Left as they can possibly get.

Think back to last month’s Westminster attack. It might seem long ago, because the atrocities are coming thick and fast now. After that one, George Eaton, of the New Statesman, tweeted this:

And what a staggeringly inhuman take on events that is. What kind of desperate, ghoulish mind would take the still congealing blood in a stack of mutilated corpses, and use it to grease the spin on their own creaking, fractured ideology?

On the Sunday after the Stockholm attack, thousands gathered in the city to, in the words of Sweden’s official Twitter account, “show that peace and love will win over violence and hate”.

Which sounds just wonderful, but frankly, I didn’t care about peace and love before I heard about a truck being driven at speed into pedestrians, and I don’t care about peace and love now either. In fact, what on earth have peace and love got to do with maintaining national security and ensuring that Islamists don’t murder people?

Imagine instead if the crowds were gathering in city squares for something meaningful, such as to demand an unapologetically robust response to Islamic extremism. Or to show that we can be fair and decent, but remain unflinching against the mindless vitriol of the politically correct mob, and give not one inch to illiberal doctrines. Imagine how much better we might be able to deal with the problem of Islamism if we could finally call time on the restrictive political constraints imposed by the progressive left.

Or shall we just stick to that worn out, overly familiar script?

Go to work. Change the subject. Wait to see who gets killed next.

Sam White is a writer for Country Squire Magazine and has written for The Spectator & Metropolis. Other Sam White articles can be found by using the search box below (just type in Sam White) and also by looking here.