by Robin Shepherd
Sometimes it takes a while before the sheer horror of what is going on in one's own country truly sinks in. How many times have I written here about another "new low" in British attitudes to
First the facts of the matter. Last week, Frances Guy,
The relatives of the hundreds of people whose arms, legs and heads he had blown off might take a different view of the kind of "impact" Fadlallah has on "everyone he meets, no matter what their faith". But before we come to the commentary, be aware that there has been more of this sort of thing from the British government's top representative to
"No one outside
I will deal with both of these characters together in a moment. But it is also worth noting a postscript to the scandal (or lack of one) surrounding the remarks by Frances Guy, HMG Ambassador to
"The problem with diplomatic blogging," she says, "is that you risk being anodyne or controversial". No. The problem with diplomatic blogging is that you risk saying what you really think and thus revealing your core beliefs and values. "I have no truck with terrorism wherever it is committed in whoever's name," she says.
Ah yes. That's the official Foreign Office line. But caught without her diplomatic clothes on, her thinking was revealed to be very different, wasn't it? And even in what is supposed to be an apology, she is still unable to tell the truth about the mass murderer that she had spoken of in such glowing terms: "The blog was my personal attempt to offer some reflections of a figure who while controversial was also highly influential in Lebanon's history and who offered spiritual guidance to many Muslims in need." (My italics)
And, she concludes: "I regret any offence caused". Really? So why didn't you prove that point by describing Fadlallah as he really was? The truth is that, in the absence of a single word about Fadlallah's profoundly significant and direct support for terrorism, the only sense in which her statement of regret can be taken seriously is in the sense that she regrets having revealed the underlying thinking of the British Foreign Office about Islamist terror. Thus, even as she offers an apology, she reaffirms her original offence.
But here, and simultaneously bringing in her counterpart in
In other words, this is policy. This is what the British Foreign Office stands for. This what Great Britain Plc does in the world. This, in other words, is the extremist mainstream — a centre-ground in Britain which is now so saturated with hatred for the Jewish state, with sympathy for the "grievances" of the terrorist, with ambivalence about liberal-democratic values themselves that a complete reversal of normality has now been achieved.
Views which should exist only at the far fringes of a healthy democratic society now occupy the mainstream; views which should occupy the mainstream are shunned, demonised and exiled to the fringes.
I sometimes chide people for being too casual with their analogies to the 1930s. But in this case the only sense in which I would disapprove is that the situation in
This can only go on for so long before something finally snaps. I don't know where we are heading. But the future is looking darker by the day.
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