WELL, JUST AS LAST year was finishing, the combination of the world’s most peaceable religion, a truck and a temptingly bustling Christmas market in Berlin, conspired to bring Christmas and 700 years of tradition to its proverbial ‘knees’.
...So here we go again!
The incident sent a shock wave in every direction, but hit yours truly particularly hard as we had just returned from a short break to the German town of Heidelberg, we wanted to experience for ourselves a traditional Christmas Market.
Our photograph demonstrates perfectly, the atmosphere at the markets, crowds go along to meet friends, drink, eat and shop for gifts, mostly stuff you cannot buy in larger stores. The people we met were all of one mind, anxious even, to thank us for visiting and making sure that we wanted for nothing. An incredible experience, in the company of incredible people.
Sadly, the furthest thing on anyone’s mind at a Christmas market is dodging trucks or bullets. Some will say that people did not ask for the invasion of immigrants, rather it was imposed by politicians, without asking the people. (Something that those of us who suffered under Tony (B)liar will understand perfectly). Despite this, the German people have been more than generous to their new countrymen, something I think is about to change drastically.
On hearing the news my first reaction was to tweet that we shouldn’t panic, we’ll light some candles and stand about with sad faces, cry a little, which should scare the risen Christ out of the perpetrators, after all, it worked in Paris, Brussels, Paris again and Orlando, didn’t it?
If candles and crying doesn’t work, (call me a cynic), but I don’t think it is, ...then we need a diversion, ...step-up good old Nigel Farage ...ta rah!
The ex-UKIP leader took to Twitter to say that the ‘terrible news’ came as ‘no surprise’ and that ‘events like these will be the Merkel legacy’. Cue the opportunity to pile blame on Farage. I must confess that I now find this phase almost wondrous to behold, for it is a phase in which far more vitriol is ladled onto the person who has mildly erred from the multiculti pieties than, for example, the person who drove a truck through a crowded market place. Farage will be said to know ‘exactly what he’s doing’ while the murderer will be a tragic ‘victim of circumstance’. Of course if the truck driver proved to be a white, working-class European he would not be a ‘victim of circumstance’. He would be part of a dark and broad nexus of European racists whose origins, inspirations and ideologues must be located and shut down by all decent people.
As the whole wretched story unfolds, I’m waiting for the
Muslim good news story’. I haven’t seen one yet. But perhaps a small group of Muslims somewhere in Europe could be found, holding a banner saying ‘Not in my name’ or ‘The driver was not Muslim’ or ‘Prophet Mohammed was always against attacking markets, on the Monday before Christmas, in the Berlin area, with this particular make of truck.’
More likely is that we will see, photos in the world’s press with the attendees described as simply ‘Muslims’. Then we can all forget the dead bodies and focus on the Muslim good news story, taking away the only viable lesson which is:
‘Anyone acting violently in the name of Islam = nothing to do with Islam; small sect behaving nicely in the name of Islam = true Islam, and who are you to say otherwise? ...Bigot.’
Angela Merkel will reiterate her recent call to ‘ban the burka’. The Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, will also doubtless once again back up this call. The candidates for the French Presidency will publicly ponder whether the Berlin attack might have been stopped if the driver of the lorry had been banned from wearing a burkini.
Non-violent Islamists will insist that we look at the root causes which make people drive trucks through Christmas markets in Berlin (‘Islamophobia’, Germany’s brutal foreign policy, trucks of certain designs) while non-Muslim commentators will insist that we find out ‘what the terrorists want’, with the unmentioned follow-on that once we work this out we can give them some of it. So drive enough trucks into crowds and sooner or later we can whittle down the number of Christmas markets, Jews, gays, polytheists, etc.
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Donald Trump won’t be as bad as you think...
FOR 18 MONTHS, Donald Trump was amazingly useful to British politicians. Whatever their party, he provided them with the most magnificent means with which to polish their liberal credentials. In January, when the British Parliament spent three hours debating a public petition to ban Trump from entering the country, we learned from Labour’s Rupa Huq that he was ‘racist, homophobic, misogynist’, from the Conservative Marcus Fysh that he was ‘the orange prince of American self-publicity’ and from the SNP’s Gavin Newlands that he was not only ‘racist, sexist and bigoted’, but ‘an idiot’.
So perhaps now that the giggling has subsided, we can get down to a more realistic assessment of the man and his views. Some unsavoury personal moments aside, the accusation that Trump was a misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic racist simply constituted the liberal press’s best effort at holing his campaign below the waterline. In reality, Trump is a man who holds liberal New York opinions and would be unable to set about ‘rolling back’ liberal rights even if he wanted to.
The other accusations against him have been equally cynical. For months there has been a hysterical insistence, by everyone from Democrat peaceniks to Cold War nostalgists, that a Trump presidency would fundamentally undermine and even end NATO, the centrepiece of the UK’s defence capability. The basis for this claim lies solely in Trump’s complaint during his campaign that America should not be bailing out its NATO allies if they are not willing to pay a fair share for their own defence. Though it was expressed more forcefully than is usually the case, there was nothing so surprising about this. For decades, US presidents have implored their European partners to fulfil the minimal 2% spending requirements that membership of NATO should require. There is nothing immoral or unstrategic about asking European powers to demonstrate a commitment to their own security. Rather than ‘weakening’ NATO, such a stance is likely to underpin and strengthen it.
Then there are the fears about American trade protectionism. But these would have pertained whoever won the White House. Pulled to the left by the Bernie Sanders insurgency within her own party, President Hillary Clinton would have been at least as protectionist as Trump will prove to be.
The European-American trade deal, TTIP, was floundering long before this result, with experts on both sides of the Atlantic considering the differences irreconcilable. When it comes to trade, Britain is, in reality, in the best possible position with President Trump. Had our elected politicians not been so undiplomatic in recent months, the UK might have been in a better position still. Everything Trump has ever said suggests that he is exceptionally well disposed towards the country where his mother was born. In recent times such an attitude could not be taken for granted. Lest we forget, Barack Obama, the most acclaimed ‘liberal’ president of modern times, (unless you live in Israel), thought so little of US-UK relations that he ignored all present and historic bonds of affection and threatened to send us ‘to the back of the queue’ if we disagreed with his stance on the EU. By contrast, Trump has repeatedly insisted that post-Brexit Britain will be at the front of the queue in trade deals with the US. Under him the special relationship that was allowed to flounder under Obama could flourish once again.
‘What about the nativism and the racism?’ people will ask. But putting aside the occasional rhetorical ugliness, all this seems to refer to is Trump’s desire that America erect meaningful borders after a generation of Republican and Democratic incumbents made them semi-permeable at best.
Throughout this campaign, there was no greater demonstration of the disconnect between the liberal elite and the public at large than the insistence that someone who had ‘insulted’ minorities could not make it to the White House in a ‘changing’ America. Strengthening and even building borders is not ‘racism’ or ‘nativism’. It is what normal, successful states have done throughout history, and what states across Europe, after a few years of dangerous utopian fantasy, are now doing again.
Then there is the nuclear question. Isn’t Donald Trump going to start a third world war? So far as anyone can tell, his foreign policy instincts are far less provocative than a second President Clinton’s would have been. He certainly seems to favour bold and decisive action against terrorist groups such as Isis, but he is significantly less likely to start a conflagration than his Democratic opponent.
The subject of Russia and Putin was also used throughout this election as a shorthand way to malign the Trump campaign. But this was not based on anything more than a couple of complimentary phrases about President Putin. And though the commentariat likes to use Putin (like ‘progressive’ rights) as a way to demonstrate a candidate’s unfitness for office, there is nothing very clever about a stance of unbridled hostility, aggression and antagonism towards Moscow. In recent months there has been a dramatic warming of hostilities in the virtual war against Russia. If a Trump presidency can lower the temperature of such exchanges, then it should be welcomed rather than lamented.
In a last-minute pre-election plea, the talkshow host Bill Maher insisted that Trump was different. That although Maher and other leftists had claimed that Mitt Romney and John McCain were sexist, homophobic racists as well, they had in fact been lying. Maher admitted that he and other leftists ‘cried wolf’ with them, whereas Trump really was all of these things, and also a fascist to boot. And the thing about fascists, Maher insisted, is that once they get power they don’t give it up. One hates to remind people of this, but they said the same thing about George W. Bush. In 2008 there was no executive order for Bush to remain in office in perpetuity. That too dissolved into the tide of American hyperbole. As will the excesses of Trump and his critics.
Welcome to January 2017, welcome to Streetwise Magazine