That’s a nice country you’ve got, be a shame if anything happened to it

Moving the Australian embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem will increase the risk of Islamic terrorist attacks against Australians or people suspected of being Australian.

We’re not threatening you though, just warning you of what some people, for whom we’re not responsible, might do.

Let’s face it, who amongst us would not wish our neighbours to warn us if we were unknowingly putting ourselves in danger?

Australians must feel a huge sense of gratitude to the leaders of Malaysia and Indonesia for such kindness and selflessness to warn them of an increased threat of terrorism.

After all, there’s nothing more comforting than being lectured by leaders of majority Muslim countries on what might trigger terrorism attacks….. like an arsonist giving free advice to firefighters.

For example, one can sense the concern for the safety of all Australians in the Malaysian Prime Minister’s advice;

…..in dealing with terrorism, one has to know the causes. Adding to the cause for terror­ism is not going to be helpful … I pointed that out.

Ah, cause and effect, eh? Very sage advice.

What might be the causes of terrorism do we think?

Here’s a multiple choice list to consider;

1. Someone with mental health issues being convinced by a religious leader of a guaranteed afterlife in paradise if they kill infidels.

2. Country A moving their embassy in Country B to the capital city, against the wishes of Country C.

Bill’s Opinion

The Association Fallacy falsely links a group of individuals to another group of individuals because they share a similar quality.

However, there seems to be an exception to this rule; when looking at the group of people who are anti-Zionist and the group of people who are anti-Semitic, there is pretty much no recorded cases where the two groups don’t match completely.

As Tim Blair points out, Dr. Mahathir’s track record on both anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism is hiding in plain sight. Of the list of people to be assumed to be arguing in good faith against the embassy move, Mahathir would be one or two levels from the very bottom of the list. There’s probably only some blokes from Austria and Germany in the 1930s who would be beneath him on that list.

The man, in his own words, frequently repeated, is an unreconstructed Jew-hater. We’ll take no lectures about the causes of terrorism from him, thanks very much.

Anyway, the embassy move won’t happen now as the Australian government lost the by-election it was fighting in the Jewish area and the idea will now be buried quietly as yet another cynical attempt to cling to power.

As Thomas Sowell said,

No one will really understand politics until they understand that politicians are not trying to solve our problems.  They are trying to solve their own problems — of which getting elected and re-elected are No. 1 and No. 2.  Whatever is No. 3 is far behind.

Every city or house divided against itself will not stand

A recent survey suggests that London might not be the swinging epicentre of liberal values that it once was.

How strange.

About 15 years ago, I was delighted to witness the work of the hilariously bipolar close-hand magician and foul-mouthed comedian, Jerry Sadowitz, at the tiny Soho Theatre. One of his throwaway lines was the following;

So anyway, I was drinking in a gay bar just round the corner last night. How did I know it was a gay bar? Well, it’s in fucking London, isn’t it?“.

That this joke is/was funny is testament to the national stereotype London has of being a centre for all manner of non-traditional non-conservative values and lifestyles.

Comedy is built on kernels of commonly-held axioms. In the recent past, London was universally thought to be the home of the freaks, the weirdos, the people on the edge of society. It was a place where one could go and be relatively safe from harm and avoid people who were harshly judgemental.

The survey suggests this is a memory now, not reality.

What might have caused this, do we think?

Two obvious explanations come immediately to mind, either;

1. The population of London has changed its opinion, or

2. The population of London has changed, i.e. there’s been a replacement.

There’s an hilarious clue in the survey’s narrative;

Or, in other words, “if we exclude everyone with a religious opinion from the data, the remaining people are just as tolerant as everyone else“.

Quite.

But apart from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy your evening at the theatre?”.

Bill’s Opinion

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised to learn that, when a city’s population has a large increase of a particular demographic with conservative religious views, they bring their opinions with them largely unchanged.

The 19 worst countries for gender equality

To celebrate International Identity Politics Day Women’s Day, Business Insider Australia had an article showing the worst countries in the world to be a female human (there’s some sub-editor gotchyas in the article but we won’t spoil the surprise for you).

Actually, when you scan the list, these also correlate quite closely with the worst countries in the world to be a human of any gender, but that doesn’t fit the day’s narrative so well.

Have a browse of the bottom of the list (page 21 here), compiled by our old friends the World Economic Forum at great expense to the shareholders of the various 1,000 contributing corporates propping up this cottage industry of stating the bleedin’ obvious;

The countries at the bottom of the list all seem to share a common theme but I just can’t quite put my finger on it, see if you can see a trend;

You could probably get a good kebab in most of them but I don’t think that’s the most important common factor somehow.

Bill’s Opinion

Just like with the pollution of the world’s oceans with plastic or any other number of important global issues of the day, it’s always useful to closely examine people’s actions more than their words.

Treat with the utter contempt they deserve the people who loudly proclaim they are strongly supporting the rights and well-being of women, yet limit their actions to hectoring for equality of outcomes in western corporates rather than taking any action whatsoever targeting the brutal oppression of women for religious or cultural reasons in majority Muslim countries.

If cultures are all relative and equal, please explain why these countries are net exporters of migrants rather than immigration attractions.

Oh, and in case you were curious as the the 20th placed worst country, it’s Fiji. After that, normal service is resumed and we’re back the the Islamic countries again.

UPDATE;

I’ve just realised Timor-Leste is predominately Catholic. There’s always an exception to the rule, obviously. In this case, the exception has 1.3m inhabitants which could be considered a rounding error.

Stockholm Syndrome

There’s a general election being fought in the UK currently, polling day is June 8th. As seems to happen all too frequently in the West, campaigning was paused in the wake (both meanings of the homophone apply) of yet another act of extreme violence against innocents.

 

When normal politics was resumed, the Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn gave a speech which linked domestic terrorism with the various overseas wars (either officially-declared and otherwise). The full transcript of the speech can be found here.

Corbyn uses couched language and stresses the point that, in linking the two, he isn’t excusing suicide bombers detonating themselves at concerts for teenage girls. He isn’t the first from the political left to have made this linkage though and it is one which we wish to explore in this post.

Hypothesis: Western military intervention overseas is directly or indirectly linked to the escalation of domestic Jihadist terrorism and, if halted, the terrorism would subside or even cease.

There are two propositions in this hypothesis. Firstly one of causation and secondly that the linkage between the cause and the consequence is extant and therefore the situation can be reversed.

We will examine these in reverse order because, if the second is found to be false, there’s little practical utility in determining the truth of the first.

What is the motivation behind “home-grown” suicide bombers?

To understand this would require a deep understanding of the motivation behind each and every suicide bomber to find a common theme, if one even exists. As Tolstoy wrote, “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”. Perhaps this is the case with those young men (and the suicide bomber demographic seems to consist of predominately very young men) and they arrive at violence from different starting points.

The only evidence we have to judge their motivation is the angry “suicide note” videos they occasionally leave behind, observations from acquaintances and the messages given from the religious instruction they received prior to their crimes.

These overwhelmingly point to two themes; a rejection of the values of the west (the culture in which they were either partially or fully raised) and an acceptance that holy war is their duty.

The first doesn’t necessarily lead to violence, countless Britons have found themselves questioning the values and systems within which they grew up and lived. The vast majority move relatively smoothly from this rejection to a different value system and certainly without resorting to building a home-made nail bomb-vest and detonating it in a crowded concert hall. George Harrison’s post-Beatles career would have been tragically short otherwise, for example.

It’s obviously the Jihadis’ chosen solution that is the problem for those of us who wish to attend concerts without risking anything more severe than tinnitus.

If a young man has followed the spiritual journey that leads to a rejection of the values of his home nation, is it possible that we might prevent the next step, that of determining that the only solution is violent Jihad?

Perhaps, but if just a single disaffected youth slips through whatever intelligence-gathering and “de-radicalisation” programmes are implemented, the consequence is tragedy.

Is it likely that the current pool of UK-residents with Jihadi thoughts would accept an immediate and unambiguous statement from the UK Prime Minister apologising for overseas invasions, wars and drone strikes and a vow to not engage in these again?

There’s a joke at the expense of the French (the best jokes often are); Q. How many Frenchmen does it take to defend Paris? A. Who knows, it’s never been attempted.

Similarly, we are highly unlikely to ever be in the position where a country such as the UK or the USA would ever make such a pronouncement. However, we could point to the example of Spain, which reacted to the Madrid terror attacks of 2004 by pulling her troops out of Iraq. Did this result in a reduction in credible threats of terrorism? That’s hard to answer with empirical data but an active cell was prevented from attacking Barcelona in 2008 and further credible threats have been reported since, so the threat clearly didn’t reduce to zero.

This suggests that, even if western military action overseas was the touchpaper for the Jihadi movement, it’s no longer the only factor in the spiritual journey that leads a 22 year old male to reject their home country’s laws and values and murder unsuspecting music fans. This movement looks to have become the religious equivalent of a parthenogenetic organism, capable of producing new recruits regardless of the external stimulus.

Thought experiment: We can wave a magic wand which will simultaneously prevent all western forces attacking Muslim countries and globally remove all Jihadi-motivation from those currently with that view. Would there be no further Jihadi attacks in the West?

If Corbyn is correct, the answer to this question should be an emphatic “yes”. There is a problem with this, however; Jihadism is “re-bootable” (this is someone else’s observation but we can’t recall whose).

By this we mean, if nothing but the holy texts of Islam survived a global apocalypse and an alien found and read these, it is possible that they might interpret the messages contained within the Quran in such a way that leads them to embrace violent Jihad. The texts themselves explicitly call on the follower to wage war on the unconverted and apostates alike.

The answer to the question posed in our thought experiment is certainly not an unqualified “yes” and, unless we could delete the various passages from all copies of the Quran and every subsequent commentary written on the subject, chances are the answer is “no, more Jihadis would replace the ones we removed with our magic wand“.

Bill’s opinion

Even if the West is fully-culpable for the radicalisation of disaffected youths who are subsequently motivated to commit suicide with methods designed to take as many innocent lives as possible, the problem is not likely to go away now, regardless of any move towards pacifism or foreign non-intervention.

Our reality requires a different solution to Corbyn’s suggestion but also, it’s clear that the current mitigating actions are not effective either.