After – in fact during – the hideous massacre in Nairobi The Guardian has really outclassed itself with its special brand of fatuity, which causes old Guardianastas like me to swallow a little vomit.
There was Giles Foden:-
“al-Shabaab is really attacking the very idea of capitalism”
To which “raulb” in the comments replies:-
A truly insidious and disturbing piece showing the tell tale strains of an expedition to muddy the waters and shift the responsibility from the perpetrators of a terrible crime to the victims.Normally this happens post the body count but I guess this time we may as well start the whitewash right way.
Bravo Giles, you truly intellectual giant of man, with the rare ability to cut through the ravings of a brutal Islamist terrorist group and it’s sadistic foot soldiers and look into their soul to discern their ‘competing vision of Africa’, ‘discontent with crime and supermarkets’ and ‘angst about the corruption in Kenya’ even as they single out non-muslims for slaughter.
Your considerable talents are truly wasted here, anyone who can frame barbarism in root cause sophistry and cloak butchery in anti-corruption crusade can have a lifetime gig justifying mass murder with AlQaeda.
Give me Bin Laden or Al-shabaab ‘ undeconstructed’ any day, at least they have the courage to put themselves out there in all their intolerance, hate and ugliness, and do not subject the global public to delusional fantasy.
(I do get the feeling that Giles Foden knows something about corruption in Kenya, and rather like an examinee asked an unexpected question, is tailoring his knowledge to fit the topic.)
There was one by Jamie Gilham, about the tabloid construction of Samantha Lewthwaite as a female hate figure.
Gem of a paragraph:-
Her transgressions are plentiful: she converted to Islam, took the veil and a Muslim name, married a black and notoriously radical convert, and is the mother of mixed-race children.
The “transgressions” that those brutes of tabloid readers are objecting to are her possibly massacring a bunch of people in Nairobi. Oh , and the “notoriously radical convert” – why not “murdering jihadist”? It’s not really bigotry to suspect that a woman who marries a suicide bomber could be dodgy.
Gilham’s special subject is “conversion to Islam” and to him the issue is that converts inspire hostility. He strikes two Guardian tones – (1) forestalling purported anti-bigotry from the tabloid readers; (2) covering a subject that tabloid readers are vulgarly interested in, with his own haut en bas angle on it. This is normally done with celebrities like the Kardashians. His third tone is that of the aesthete – as Lamia (see below) says, in the “tired, arch language of a 90s art critic” as if Lewthwaite had been exhibiting an edgy art installation. It is crassly inappropriate – no vilely wrong – in such a context.
But – astonishing – here’s an article by Martin Plaut which he hasn’t just pulled out of his behind but which actually gives some background and even stresses that Islamism may have played a part in these events!
The commenters in the thread are reeling in shock at an informed and reasoned piece.
Update:- I’ve added a bit more to my post and reproduced Lamia’s stunning comment:-
So we have Foden’s text-book ‘Islamists are anti-capitalist protesters’ rubbish, aided by this lie of convenient omission:
“Al-Shabaab is responding, specifically, to Kenyan involvement in a joint African peacekeeping force (Amisom) in Somalia.”
Funny, Al-Shabab was ‘responding’ to Kenyan troops entering in Somalia by launching cross border murder and kidnapping raids before Kenyan troops had… even entered Somalia. How prescient of them.
But Foden’s apologism, however indefensible, was predictable enough. Someone was bound to have tried the ‘anti-capitalist’ line just as, should Al Shabab ever start slaughtering dolphins, one ought not really be surprised if the Guardian tries to spin it as a protest against water parks in the US, or the result of Hollywood films such as Jaws which demonise aquatic life etc.
But Jenkins’ piece appears to be a picture of a mind breaking down under the pressure of doublethink. He blames architects and people who gather with other people for making terrorist attacks more bloody than they need be, which is crazy and cowardly enough in itself. But he tops that with trying to argue both (1) that terrorism is the result of ‘overreaction’ to, er… terrorism, and (2) the proper, proportionate reaction should be people staying at home and not gathering together.
There Jenkins manages a construction of almost ingenious idiocy in which two thoughts are offered, each spectacularly stupid in itself, but each of which also fatally undermines the other. His desperate, floundering ”argument’ is a sort of idiotic snake eating its own tail.
Gilham’s piece (1) talks about a terrorist’s career in the tired, arch language of a 90s art critic (“provokes, disturbs and fascinates”); (2) plays the racist card at the British public; and (3) accuses the rest of the media of being in an unseemly rush to write about the person he’s er, writing about. So he offers us: simultaneous moral atrophy and moral censoriousness, topped with a big brass neck.
Taken separately these are horrible, deeply stupid, utterly dishonest or delusional pieces. But put together it suggests something actually sinister at the Guardian. It seems programmatic, as if they have been instructed by the editors to use all possible forms of ‘argument’, no matter how logically or morally unsound, in order to aid the ideological extraction of Islamism from yet another of its bloody crime scenes.
“Any vehicle will do. Send them all. Send the people who hate modern architecture, send the people who hate capitalism, send the art critic (yes, Gilham actually is a Fellow of the Royal College of Art). Just get our Islamist comrades out.
“And don’t forget to draw your ‘Racist!’ cards from the armoury. You will need them.”
A couple of years back I made some quip about Guardian writers needing aqualungs because they keep reaching new depths etc.. But it’s two years on and they just keep going further down. It’s like there’s a black hole at the bottom of their moral ocean.:-