Napoleon once said that History is a fable. Which it is. As a collective – whatever collectives we happen to be in – we edit and distort history (or current events) to suit our political aims (in the broad sense) – whatever they happen to be.
I will say or do almost anything that will lead to society believing that it’s entirely reasonable that I spend my life cooing over animals.
And when I was a child in the 80s I remember three gruesome murders that were live streamed on T.V. Two British soldiers were beaten to death by a crowd attending an I.R.A. funeral after they accidentally drove down the wrong road, an old man was thrown dead out of a plane the P.L.O. had hijacked, and a Zulu was led through the streets by an A.N.C. crowd with a tire around him, before they set the tire on fire.
Apart from giving me a personal terror of lynching all of these deaths have been forgotten. The A.N.C. run South Africa, the P.L.O seem to have disappeared, and outside of Northern Ireland only ‘Bloody Sunday’, the hunger strikes and the Guilford Four or Birmingham Six get any kind of recognition.
Real human beings suffered horribly for causes they had no control over and no one is one bit interested in their suffering. It’s not useful. Our moral outrage is a subconscious fraud. It’s why Marxists will support ethnic terrorism, liberals will support wars and capitalists will trash an economy.
Which brings me to my current pet hate – News Dramas – currently coalescing around Muslims.
For a start most people everywhere in the world just bumble around trying to survive in whatever culture they’ve been born into. The fact that very ambitious Muslims might latch on to a strict form of Islam or Marxism or capitalism – whatever furthers their personal wants from Saudi Arabia to Luton – doesn’t mean squat. That’s what every one is doing. Some people like to reach out and integrate, some people like to close down and segregate – every organisation in the world makes those choices from a family business to a giant global corporation to a government to a pressure group. Power struggles are an inescapable (though sometimes cover-upable) fact of life.
9/11 is clearly going to be a big remembered part of Western History. At the moment it’s new, highly charged and locked into America’s relations with the Middle-East. One day it’ll just be tragic and picturesque – like the Titanic. So – I don’t mind the endless, endless documentaries that go minute by minute, person by person, theory by theory through the events of that day. I connect to the personal stories of loss and survival and the footage of the planes will always be a shocking spectacle.
What I can’t stand are the endless British exploitation documentaries about Muslims because of 9/11.
They take three forms.
1. Alarmist footage of extremists preaching hate.
2. Alarmist footage of thuggish Islamophobes.
3. Perky run-throughs of Islamic arts and sciences.
On the bright side once they’ve been through this baptism of fire maybe British Muslims will get a real stake in the culture. On the dark side maybe we’ll calm down and speak no more about them – like the Covenanters.
And maybe I only care because my own family history contains many insulted and abandoned Presbyterians whose hard lives have become untellable tales or convenient scapegoats for a British Empire they could never have imagined and would only cling to out of stubbornness and fear… just as Islam’s image struggles beneath its Imperial past and its fanatical dogmas (even if fanatical Presbyterians have been pushed to the right politically in the mainstream imagination and would naturally be seen as the racist enemy of the sometimes portrayed as homophobic Islam).
Mostly it annoys me that so much public discourse is taken up with divisive incitement.
And beneath that is the terrible realisation that if we weren’t trash talking someone – what on Earth would we be talking about at all?