Friday, August 21, 2009

Well, in a sense we're all mass murderers, aren't we?

'The Brits Are Okay with It [Jonah Goldberg]
Well, that's a shame. Katy Kay:

'...The overwhelming majority of his 270 victims were American, but 11 people, two entire families in fact, did die on the ground in Scotland, and one might expect, in Lockerbie if nowhere else, outrage similar to that expressed by American relatives. But not so. Perhaps it's because Brits, with their experience in Northern Ireland, are, more inured to terrorism, whereas, before Lockerbie, Americans had never really been exposed to this kind of attack, and so it became a watershed event that shattered America's sense of invincibility. Perhaps it’s that more in Britain question al-Megrahi's guilt to start with. Or is it just a more confident American sense of wrong and right?

It's not entirely clear to me why the outrage gap is so pronounced on al-Megrahi's release, but it definitely is, and I don't think it's just a question of numbers. The people of Lockerbie seem to support Kenny MacAskill, the justice minister, in his view that the West's identity rests on mercy as well as justice, and that even in the case of a mass murderer that value still applies. As one of the residents of Lockerbie told my colleague, "We just don't see these things in black and white."'

To that last ominous statement, you could add "dead and alive, murdered and not murdered, enemy and friend, immoral and moral, monstrously evil and tolerably good". When you can't even see the cold-blooded murderer of two hundred and seventy people as evil, you have no moral bearings, you have no moral fixed points, you are no longer recognisably moral in any sense.

The West has an identity as merciful? Pompous self-righteousness and disgusting cowardice, perhaps, but merciful? The West sat by while the peoples of Rwanda, Bosnia, Chechnya and Iraq were murdered in their millions, within the last couple of decades. Very merciful. When the United States and Britain finally went into Bosnia and Iraq, the result was massive protests ON BEHALF OF THE MURDERERS. In Bosnia, Dutch troops sent to protect the muslim population scampered off at the first sign of men with guns, to get drunk a few hundred miles away. Thats why its called Dutch courage.

If the West has a reputation for anything, it is gutless posturing and doing business with the mass-murderers. How many German, French, Italian and Spanish companies are doing business in Russia? You know, the country ruled by a dictator who blew up some of his own people in apartment buildings so he could start a war to get popular by? Nobody knows how many people died in the siege of Grozny. But the Scots are so merciful that they don't give a shit.

The West is not merciful, and it very much does not see things in black and white. It feels smug and superior while at the same time sensing its own vulnerability. In its decadence, though, it can't be bothered to do anything about it.

The first sharp blow to it, and it will collapse like a termite-eaten fence-post. And like all decadent things, it will not be mourned by those who are not decadent.

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