Yesterday, I was accused by a friend of being a “hot-head.” It is a badge I wear with pride, if only for the fact that I know the increase in temperature in my skull is directly linked to accrued knowledge and frustration with those who choose to subvert the all-important skill of “knowing what you’re talking about.”
No finer example of willful ignorance can be found anywhere in the world than on the pages of The Guardian. I assure you – you won’t find better (worse?), even in the deepest recesses of Obama’s administration.
So I am supposed to remember not to sound angry, or “hot-headed,” when I write about two incidents that piqued my interest and blood pressure recently.
I sent an email to colleagues earlier in the week with the subject line “UNBELIEVABLE!!!” The issue at hand was George Monbiot’s glaringly idiotic piece on how we should consider British jihadis going to fight in Syria as committing an act of “heroism.”
Monbiot goes so far as to claim that had the British suicide bomber who blew himself up last week in an attempt to free hundreds of Islamist cohorts been “fighting for the British army, he might have been awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross.”
No, George. He definitely would not have. British soldiers, as a matter of course, don’t tend to swear an oath of allegiance to Allah and then hijack trucks and explode them into prisons. It’s just not the done thing, old chap.
Of course, it was evident to many that the Guardian contributor knew nothing about the matter from only the second sentence of his article, which reads:
If convicted of fighting abroad with a “political, ideological, religious or racial motive” – a charge they would find hard to contest – they would face a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Had Monbiot done any research into the matter at all, he would know that the UK government has not gained a single conviction on this charge, despite hundreds returning to the UK having fought against British troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. That’s not even including all those who have been to Somalia, Kashmir, Yemen, etc.
It’s worth reading Douglas Murray’s riposte to Monbiot in the Spectator but also worth contemplating the work of one of Monbiot’s fellow Guardian contributors: Yasmin Alibhai-Brown.
Alibhai-Brown, I thought, was perhaps becoming a more sensible person after she supported a campaign against gender segregation on university campuses – a campaign that I helped to instigate.
The issue, which I would describe as one of great civilizational import, was that various Islamist speakers on British university campuses, and numerous student Islamic societies, were either forcing or encouraging women to sit separately from the men, sometimes even in different rooms.
Alibhai-Brown was right in speaking out against this and even went to far as to say:
Muslim educational achievements are so abysmally low because our educators do not liberate them from dark age interpretations of Islam but rather encourage them.
She was referring to the fact that the act of gender segregation was actually, for a while at least, supported by Universities UK, a leading academic union with disproportionate influence over university life, and she was right.
But Alibhai-Brown has slunk back into her willfully ignorant mindset, chirping up about the same issue about which Monbiot wrote so poorly. Britain will no doubt regard British jihadis that fight side-by-side with Al Qaeda as homegrown terrorists. In part, this is why British Members of Parliament chose not to commit our armed forces to an intervention in Syria – we would have been fighting alongside terrorists.
Alibhai-Brown’s shark jumping extraordinaire on Twitter posed this statement and question:
Letter @guardianwitness account of British Zionists joining Israel’s ‘defence force’ which kills at will. Are they ‘homegrown terrorists’?
A large part of me wants to believe that she’s joking, but let’s face it – she’s not.
Alibhai-Brown genuinely believes that the question of whether British Jews that make aliyah and join the Israeli armed forces to help protect the Jewish homeland are “terrorists” is a pertinent one.
Not only does it betray basic common sense – as nowhere in the IDF handbook is there a chapter on hiding in civilian buildings, or wiping anyone off the face of the Earth – but it also betrays her ignorance of the issues in the region, boiling them down to a Palestine Solidarity Campaign press release.
So let’s be very clear about this. I can tell you that (just like in the British and American and every other army in the world), there will of course be rogues in the IDF midst. However, to compare the entire defensive army of an existentially embattled state to a handful of wannabe martyrs fighting alongside Al Qaeda is reprehensible.
Still, don’t take my word for it.
The Former Commander of the British Forces in Afghanistan, Colonel Richard Kemp, went on the record at the United Nations in 2009 to state:
Based on my knowledge and experience, I can say that during Operation Cast Lead, the Israel Defense Forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in the combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare. Israel did so while faced with an enemy that deliberately positioned its military capacities behind the human shields of the civilian population.
Can the same be said of Monbiot’s pot-holed claims over British jihadists? Hardly.
So how was my response? Too hot-headed?