Saturday 24 August 2019

Blaming the West for all the world's ills

OLIVIA O’LEARY: Musing over violence on ‘Drivetime’
OLIVIA O’LEARY: Musing over violence on ‘Drivetime’

Eilis O'Hanlon

'There is no point in even trying to say anything about Paris at this time - because anything worthwhile that could be said about it has already been said."

That's how the man himself put it on Lyric's Sunday With Gay Byrne. Irish radio then spent the week proving Gaybo right by indulging in the usual orgy of platitudinous pieties.

There were two main themes. The first was that terrorism is not Muslims' fault. The second was that taking military action against Islamic State would only make matters worse.

These assertions were repeatedly stated, from Morning Ireland at breakfast to Late Debate at bedtime, as undeniable facts, rather than claims which needed to be validated through counter argument.

This orthodoxy was exemplified by Paddy O'Gorman's vox pop with Muslims in Dublin for Today With Sean O'Rourke, where one Libyan woman first declared that terrorism "has nothing to do with Islam because Islam is peace" (very insightful) and two Algerian men, who initially wouldn't talk because they suspected the RTE reporter was a guard from Harcourt Street, distanced themselves from the violence in Paris while insisting that if the French were "not going to war" then "there would be no terrorists in his (sic) land".

If that is true, why did police in peacenik, right-on Sweden recently admit to facing a "huge threat" from jihadists, foiling many plots?

Worst of a bad lot was Neil Delamere's Sunday Best on Today FM, where a shallow discussion of events in Paris centred almost exclusively on so-called "Islamophobia" and how "for the far right it's a wet dream come to pass".

Olivia O'Leary, in her column for Drivetime, repeated the line that it would be "unworthy" of France to take military action in response to being attacked. "This is what France means to us - music, painting, a republic of ideas, living brought to a fine art... that's the currency of civilisation in which France deals".

It's as if France is expected to sustain a sort of fantasy for the aesthetic comfort of sentimental visitors. Andrew Marr painted much the same picture at the end of BBC Radio Four's Start The Week, which was ironic as his guests had spent the previous hour largely lambasting the country for refusing to shrug off a deluded sense of itself as a great world power and accept instead that France is a multicultural work in progress.

The programme had been pre-recorded in Paris the Friday before, a few hours before the attacks began - so this wasn't hindsight, but the same smug, liberal disapproval at those who might be fearful of how Europe is changing prevailed. That misses the point.

As one guest said on Wednesday's Moral Maze on the same station, jihadists can't destroy us, but we can change so much in an effort to appease them that the extremists win by default. It was about time, he declared, that the West set about "renewing the belief in our own virtue".

It was a stirring clarion call after days of self-flagellation and moral equivocation.

Sunday Independent

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