BY JAMES BEMBRIDGE
Three things are certain to follow a terror attack in Britain:
‘Lessons must be learnt’, and its sister platitude ‘now is the time for solidarity’ are uttered in speeches as dead as those they are written to honour. The killer’s motives are lied about because the lies are easier said than the truth: the truth that we have no strategy against Islamism, the Prevent one having failed to prevent 25-year-old Ali Harbi Ali from killing the MP David Amess last Friday.
We are often told attacks like this won’t succeed in changing our liberal values. While cameras, bollards and ‘anti-terror’ walls are quietly erected in their wake to do just that – only this time, the bollards are digital. Bewitched by a boundless need for political correctness, the media class seem to have cast the country under a spell of believing the killer to be some angry internet troll rather than the indoctrinated Islamist he is now known to be. Through pained faces of concern, commentators are delivering hand-wringing demands for social media giants to show more ‘responsibility’, tacitly implying that Sir David might still be alive had online discourse only been more civil.
Given that friends of Ali say it was Anjem Choudary and not Angela Rayner who radicalised him, it makes little sense for the media to focus on her ‘Tory scum’ comments – as indecorous as they were – and less sense still for Priti Patel to consider doing away with online anonymity. What is the use of forcing people to show their name online while Anjem Choudary freely bellows bile under his own one? Still, an MP has been murdered. There is pressure for the government to be seen to be doing something. And in today’s freedom-averse world, censorship is always ‘the something’.
Amidst this Mary Whitehouse-esque moral panic against free speech, it’s not Islamists who will suffer, it’s the ordinary decent folk who tweet what up until a few years ago would have been considered ordinary and decent things. That biological sex exists; that British culture exists; and that, yes, Islamism exists. The latter of which even Conservative MPs now find troubling to acknowledge. Michael Fabricant, for instance, recently asked if it was Islamophobic to suggest we should focus more on tackling Islamic extremism. Seriously? Is Britain that cowed a country that to but name its enemies is now considered an expression of bigotry?
Why must every Islamist attack be followed by this ineradicable urge to obscure its motives, to equivocate Islamism with rarer forms of extremism, and to wipe its victims from the country’s collective consciousness? It’s not just the sniffish middle class media types who indulge in this concealment and subterfuge, right wing Covid ‘truthers’ are at it too. For them, the idea that David Amess was killed by an Islamic terrorist is too convenient to be true and too inconvenient a truth to make any money from on Patreon. It must have been Bill Gates. It must have been a basement dwelling incel. Anything but the simple and inescapable truth that Islamism is the greatest threat of our age.
From this, one can draw only one conclusion: Islamists attack liberty; liberals merely abandon it.
James Bembridge is Deputy Editor of Country Squire Magazine.