Apologists

Norm on apologists.

Imagine a thought experiment, he gently urges.

On account of the present situation in Zimbabwe, the government decides to halt all scheduled deportations of Zimbabweans who have been denied the right to remain in the UK. Some BNP thugs are made angry by this decision and they take out their anger by beating up a passer-by who happens to be an African immigrant. Can you imagine a single person of left or liberal outlook who would blame, or even partially blame, this act of violence on the government’s decision to halt the deportations, or who would urge us to consider sympathetically the root causes of the act? It wouldn’t happen, even though (ex hypothesi) the government decision is part of the causal chain leading to the violence in question. It wouldn’t happen because the anger of the thugs doesn’t begin to justify what they have done.

I’ve been having a similar thought for days, ever since reading Tariq Ali. It’s July 7, 1944. Bombs explode on three tube trains at 8:50 in the morning, and on a bus an hour later. The perpetrators turn out to be fans of Oswald Mosley, would-be members of the British Union of Fascists. Diana Mosley writes an article titled ‘The price of occupation’ in which she says ‘But it is safe to assume that the cause of these bombs is the unstinting support given by the national government and its prime minister to the US-led invasion of Nazi Europe’ and ‘Most Londoners (as the rest of the country) were opposed to the anti-Nazi war. Tragically, they have suffered the blow and paid the price for the takeover of Churchill and a continuation of the war.’ Can you imagine a single person of left or liberal outlook who would blame, or even partially blame, this act of violence on the government’s decision to resist the Nazis, or who would urge us to consider sympathetically the root causes of the act? (If you go back five years from 1944, of course, you can indeed imagine that, which just goes to show that some people of left or liberal outlook can be – more than a little foolish.) But you get the drift. Nazi terrorists blow up tube trains because they’re really pissed off, and – ? And nothing. So they’re pissed off, so what? Anybody can be pissed off, anyone can have a ‘grievance,’ that doesn’t mean their cause is any good. People are always going to get pissed off when someone stops them doing what they want. But if what they want is to kill half the village, or torture children to death because they are ‘witches,’ or kill the whole village – then it is better to stop them, rather than attending a ten year anniversary of the mass slaughter they managed to pull off in full view of the UN.

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