By MICHAEL BLACKBURN.
VARIOUS CELEBS AND OTHER boneheads over the last couple of years have suggested a number of means to stop youngsters turning to jihad and running off to Syria (or the streets of the nearest European city) to engage in a bit of hard core religious violence, or to persuade those who have already done so to see the error of their ways. These include ignoring them (presumably till they till they get bored and go back to playing computer games in their underpants), sending in the comedians to make fun of them, and playing classical music at them. The latter is being arranged by the European Union, which is committing a million euros to “the promotion of EU values through music.” How a dose of Dvorak and Bach will turn the disaffected young wannabe jihadis of Molenbeek and the Parisian suburbs away from the excitement of religiously sanctioned mayhem is a mystery in itself.
The latest suggestion comes courtesy of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Justin Welby proposes we provide them with a “vision”. Not a vision of angels singing hallelujah, or endless vistas of Christian virgins or anything like that. No, says the Archbishop, we need to have “some sense of religious literacy” about these things, especially since these people are “exceptionally and extraordinarily violent”, and see that the jihadis have “an apocalyptic understanding of human history, not as a loose term but in its strictest technical terms: they believe that the world is about to end, that the Prophet will return with Jesus, and will defeat the western powers.”
And the vision that will dissuade them from this apocalypse? It’s suitably vague and Anglican, of course. It’s “a values-based vision that is deeply and authentically Christian, but inclusive and embracing of diversity,” says the Archbishop. That chimes neatly with the inclusivity we’ve come to expect from the religion of peace. The Christian bit will definitely go down well, judging by the treatment meted out by Islamic State to Christians in northern Iraq.
From what I’ve seen and read of your average jihadi I don’t see any of this “vision”, generated by a bunch of LGBT-loving, feminist, generally pro-Zionist western liberals having any appeal. We can “understand” their viewpoint till the cows come home but nothing that “we” offer is going to satisfy them. Not unless it includes wife-beating, child marriage, decapitation, crucifixion, whipping, antisemitism, misogyny, limb-chopping, rape, stoning and death worship, among other things.
The irony of all this, invisible to the eyes of Welby, is that the establishment to which he belongs has spent decades denigrating and demoting British culture, which has been the vehicle of this “values-based vision”. In education and in the media Christianity and its values have been removed or laughed at while Islam is given tacit approval and exemption from criticism. The values of free speech, the sense of the country as one community, and the belief in the law of the land as the one law for all have been deliberately undermined. The Church of England has enthusiastically thrown in its lot with the progressives who attack all of the traditional values of the nation. Conceding legal and religious ground to your opponent is a form of capitulation. Witness Welby’s predecessor, Rowan Williams, back in 2008 agreeing with the proposition that the application of certain aspects of Sharia law in British life “seems unavoidable.”
These people appear to think that dealing with Islam is the same as dealing with Catholics or Methodists. It’s not. Welby’s own assertions about the apocalyptic nature of jihad should alert him to the contradiction inherent in his stance. The final irony is that all strands of Christianity are engaged in a religious war in which they are unwilling to protect their own faith.
If Welby and all those like him in the establishment had been more proud of and supportive of traditional culture over the last four decades this situation would never have arisen. I don’t think tea and visions will do the trick now.
Currente Calamo columnist, poet, writer and lecturer Michael Blackburn lives in Lincolnshire . From 2005–2008 he was the Royal Literary Fund fellow at the University of Lincoln where he now teaches English Literature and Creative Writing. His poetry has appeared in numerous publications and anthologies over the years, including Being Alive (Bloodaxe) and Something Happens, Sometimes Here (Five Leaves Press). His most recent collection is Spyglass Over The Lagoon. A selection of his Fortnightly Currente Calamo columns, Sucks To Your Revolution: Annoying The Politically Correct (US), is available as a Kindle ebook.