In defence of politics & some politicians, in loyal support of Labour and in appreciation of decent political journalism.

22 March 2016

Religious moderates license extremists.

Filed under: Hard left,Islamism,Theocractic fascism — Ian McKenzie @ 9:42 pm

Once when I was very young my father was making me porridge. Seeing him raise a saltcellar I asked for sugar instead. “You’ll have salt”, he insisted, “or I’ll tell your grandfather”. My grandfather was a Scot and, as any first-year student of philosophy knows, no true Scotsman would have sugar on his porridge. “I want sugar”, I countered, “or I’ll tell my grandfather you drink gin and tonic”. I ate sweetened porridge that day and have done so ever since, although now, in my 50s, I use slightly healthier honey in place of refined sugar. I also drink the occasional gin and tonic.

“No true Scotsman” is known as an informal fallacy, an attempted sidestep around the inconvenient fatal arguments of others. Religious moderates of all denominations use it to separate themselves from those at the other end of their religious spectrum who commit unspeakable acts of inhumanity in the name of that religion. (Yeah, yeah, atheists commit mass murder too, but they don’t do it in the name of atheism).

Many use the “No True Scotsman” defence when Islamists commit mass murder. Thus: no true believer would murder 2,000 men, women and children in cold blood by flying a plane into a skyscraper. No one properly religious would gun down a room full of cartoonists, or a theatre full of people or hack off someone’s head for the cameras, and do so in the name of god. Why not? Well, no true believer would do such a thing because Islam is a peaceful religion. See how it works?

Tony Blair says, “acts of terrorism are perpetrated by people motivated by an abuse of religion. It is a perversion of faith.” After the Charlie Hebdo murders, President Hollande of France said, “those who committed these terrorist acts, those terrorists, those fanatics, have nothing to do with the Muslim religion.” This side step has become the obligatory shuffle of politicians and most commentators, lest the religious be offended. The proposition froths down my Twitter feed after every fresh religiously motivated terrorist outrage. It may froth, but it’s a falsehood.


25 January 2015

But-ing. Let us count the ways to but.

Filed under: Islamism,Theocractic fascism — Ian McKenzie @ 4:12 am

The steady advance of theocratic fascism with its multiple unspeakable acts of violence in scores of venues all around the world in an attempt to create a global caliphate forcing the rest of us to live under the Sharia is really, really bad.

Most people agree with this but there are lots of people who find a way to qualify it with a “but”. Let us count the ways.

Theocratic terrorism is very bad…

  1. But America has a foreign policy of which we should disapprove
  2. But lots of Muslims consider cartoons of the prophet insulting.
  3. But religion is important and we need to respect people’s faith.
  4. But would we want to see negative representations of black and gay people?
  5. But religion is the same as race.
  6. But Israel kills a lot of people too.
  7. But we shouldn’t gratuitously insult people.
  8. But these terrorists are just petty criminals.
  9. But these terrorists should be ridiculed.
  10. But we invaded Iraq.
  11. But they are trying to provoke us so, if we allow ourselves to be provoked, they’ve won.
  12. But we should consider whether we would publish these cartoons as part of our normal editorial policy.
  13. But there is no threat to us.
  14. But it is important not to over-react to acts of pure barbarism.

I must have missed some. Anyone seen any others?

23 January 2015

Laugh if you can, but be afraid.

Filed under: Islamism,Theocractic fascism — Ian McKenzie @ 4:05 am

The red bit is controlled by theocratic fascists. Not much to laugh about.


I like Dan Hannan. I rarely agree with him, many of his views are politically toxic, but I respect him. He’s a right-wing Conservative, self-described as coming from the Whig tradition, and he’s an MEP. He was a high profile supporter of the People’s Pledge, the campaign for an In-Out referendum on the EU, and I was its Director. We used to do a little double act banter at fund-raising dinners: he would do the highbrow politics and the Euroscepticism; I would do the lowbrow campaigning and the Europhilia. He wants the UK to leave the EU; I want us to stay a member.

Dan is extremely good company and the most dangerous sort of political opponent there is: he understands your position better than you do and he respects it. He is well read, well prepared and unfailingly polite. If the Trots had done their Trotskyism Dan Hannan style, they’d be running the Labour Party by now.

Because I take Dan seriously, it was with some sadness that I read his reaction to the Charlie Hebdo murders, and I scribble this blog post with considerable trepidation.

He introduces several dichotomies: we are asked to believe that the Charlie massacre was not an act of holy war but merely a crime; the perpetrators concerned not soldiers, but common criminals, not religious zealots but pathetic figures. And then, rather strangely, he suggests the public policy response to Islamism should be to ignore its stated rationale as mere self-description, and subject it to ridicule. Seriousness or ridicule are his choices.


11 January 2015

Aux armes, citoyens!

Filed under: Theocractic fascism — Ian McKenzie @ 11:30 pm
2015.01.11 Tricolore

Aux armes, citoyens! Formez vos bataillons!


I first heard about today’s London vigil for the Paris victims on Twitter; a friend was going and looking for someone to meet up with. In Trafalgar Square’s fading light several thousand people, mostly French, stood in quiet reflection. Many holding hastily produced “Je suis Charlie” posters, some displayed “je suis juif, others “je suis Ahmed.” We felt all in it together, for once.

The air was sad with palpable grief, without being sombre. Politesse suffused the square. The lack of tension was partly aided by the welcome absence of any evidence of the Trotskyism that has polluted every Trafalgar Square rally I’ve attended over more than 30 years.


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