The Westminster murderer came from Deptford in North Kent and not from a Muslim background. He was born Adrian Elms, to a white mother and a black father. He was a thug who had a long history of violent crime. He converted to Islam (like the man who beheaded Drummer Rigby in Woolwich and several other murderers), changed his name to Khalid Masood and grew a beard without a moustache.
He spent a lot of time in prison and some time in Saudi Arabia.
In his CV, which was sent out a few weeks ago, he described himself as “British”, “friendly and approachable” and a good listener.
What is to be done to stop such people? I really do not know. But it is interesting to read the suggestions made in the press, which make clear the limits of the liberal imagination.
And this time by liberal I mean the worn all its seemingly mutually contradictory senses8: the liberalism of Hillary Clinton and the EU and the classical liberalism of the Victorians.
The Times editorial this morning says, “It is baffling to most people that decades of exposure to British values can leave someone so willing to kill and be killed in a death cult masquerading as a religion”.
Do you find it baffling, dear reader, that exposure to ‘British values’ does not deter suicide killers? I don’t. Any more than going to a church school prevents people growing up to be thieves or adulterers.
In fact, there is much about British values to dislike, from many widely differing points of view. Even if there were not, there is no limit to how contrarian or perverse human beings often are.
Violent Islamism, like fascism, communism, the Green movement and other extremist nonsense, is a critique of British values.
But my point is that we should all urgently rethink the world view that not only finds evil baffling but finds extremism baffling.
Human beings are dangerous. Out of the crooked timbers of mankind no straight thing was ever made. De Maistre said civilisation depended on the hangman. Now that hanging has been abolished, civilisation depends on powerful armies, an effective police and on prisons – yet prisons are the universities where Islamists are created.
The Times talks about the successful de-Nazification of Germany but de-Nazification was effective because Germans had perished in huge numbers during two world wars that they had lost, because Germany was divided, ruled by foreigners and a third of Germany was enduring Communism. The discovery of the millions of Jews killed in gas chambers played a part too, though only in West Germany, not in socialist East Germany.
I’d say that Islamism resembles the extremism that swirled around Vienna and Munich before and immediately after the 1914-18 War rather than the situation in 1945.