• How Kevin Myers is the Bill O’Reilly of the Irish media

    I don’t read Kevin Myers’ columns; not anymore anyway. The simple reason is that they generally provoke a deep-rooted rage in me due to their ignorance, simplicity and disconnect with reality or rationality. To my mind, this reaction is exactly what Myers aims for and as such I increasingly suspect that not even he agrees with most of what he says.

    My fear is that his provocation for the sake of provocation, whilst entertaining to him and maybe others, only encourages the easily-led to agree with his broad, misguided and vague points or to rationalise their own bigotry through his.

    Put simply he writes to anger those who think and comfort those who refuse to. He is Ireland’s answer to Bill O’Reilly, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity and John Gibson and this article on Muslim fundamentalists is proof of such.

    Let me go through the article to illustrate my point:

    IT’S HARD to remember this now, but six years ago almost no one in the world could have believed it was possible to have a mass-suicide plot to bring about the death of thousands in the United States.

    Innocent days: for suicide-killings are now 10 a penny in the West Bank, Afghanistan and Iraq, and even occur in Britain. The once universal taboo on self-murder, and the equally universal fear of death, are now apparently extinct across much of the Islamic world.

    Not much to say about the first paragraph, I do have plenty with the second one, however.

    Firstly, suicide-killings, or suicide-bombings have been a factor in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict since the early 1970s; 11th September 2001 did nothing to change that. It’s probably safe to say, also, that the only reason they are currently a factor in Afghanistan and Iraq is not because the terrorist attacks in New York encouraged terrorism there, but because poor US planning has facilitated them.

    Secondly, on the issue of the taboo of death. Anyone who truly believes in their faith and truly believes themselves to be a committed practitioner of their faith would have no reason to fear death, indeed this fact is a central pillar of religions like Christianity. In other words, to say that it’s a universal fear is a complete and utter generalisation.

    Thirdly, there are over 1 billion Muslim believers in the world today – Myers bases his assumption that the fear of death is extinct across the Muslim world on the fact that a tiny, tiny fraction of this population is willing to commit suicide for what they believe in.

    This is the most dangerous factor of his entire article – the way in which he fails to distinguish Muslims from those who interpret Muslim texts in an extreme way.

    Now most of us understand the warrior concept of almost certain death in battle. All cultures have revered those who were prepared to give their lives in a holy cause. Even when they are the enemy, we recognise and even admire those who are prepared to go to certain death fighting for what they believe in. The Waffen SS soldiers who freely sacrificed themselves for their Fuhrer were universally respected by allied soldiers; so too were the Japanese Kamikaze pilots, 2,000 of whom gave their lives in the service of their emperor. They were selfless warriors, who died attacking legitimate and purely military targets.

    There are a two major generalisations in this paragraph.
    For a start, it’s a complete generalisation to say that Waffen-SS soldiers and Kamikaze pilots were “universally” respected by Allied soldiers; in fact it’s not just a generalisation, it’s a baseless, unquantifiable statement which Myers has plucked from his own head. It’s also a complete generalisation to say that all of these pilots and soldiers were “selfless warriors” who attacked “legitimate and purely military targets” – many Waffen-SS soldiers, for example, are known to have been involved in rounding up innocent Jews for concentration camps, which few would describe as legitimate targets.

    Study whatever fascist or totalitarian movement you like in world history. None has made a military virtue of killing children or young women; none has extolled the virtues of martyrdom in the course of such butchery. Just about every single taboo, both military and social, is violated in such operations: and only Islamicists could hail such deeds as pious. Such boastful, barbaric filth was beyond even the depravity of the Third Reich, or the wickedness of the Soviet Union: for these regimes kept their foul deeds secret, knowing that they were intrinsically shameful.

    The line “only Islamicists could hail such deeds [as the murder of women and children] as pious” is especially worrying here as it again makes no qualification between those who have a fundamentalist interpretation of the Koran and those who do not.
    This paragraph is also kind enough to ignore the fact that neither Hitler’s Germany or Stalin’s Russia ever made any distinction between man, woman or child when it came to the likes of the “inferior” Jew, slav or other and seems to imply that these Western animals had morals, unlike those fundamentalists in the Arab world.

    Now all this would be depressing enough if it did not occur against a larger Islamic backdrop of denial and equivocation. Some 25pc of British Muslims believe that the London bombings which occurred two years ago on Saturday were the work of British intelligence; and most Islamic “condemnation” of Islamist terrorism invariably contextualises it, as if there were some logical or moral connection between holiday-makers in Glasgow airport being blown apart and events in Baghdad or the West Bank.

    The way in which Myers quotes this unattributed figure is classic spinning – assuming it’s genuine it should be pointed out that when 25pc of a community says one thing it means that 75pc (three quarters) says otherwise. How this amounts to “a larger Islamic backdrop of denial” is beyond me.

    The generalisations continue when Myers says that “most Islamic “condemnation” of Islamist terrorism invariably contextualises it” (as if context is a bad thing).
    Firstly, Myers says “most” without even the slightest hint of research or fact to back it up and secondly he seems to try to equate contextualisation to justification.
    Is it wrong to say that “these people did XYZ because they’re angry about the war in Iraq”? Of course not – you’re pointing out their probable motivation, you’re not saying they were right to act as they did on the basis of it.

    So, is it very surprising that there has yet to be a major rally of British or mainland European Muslims denouncing Islamicist terrorism?

    What, like this one in Scotland? In fairness that took place after the article was published, but the cogs were well in motion for its occourance and Myers, if he was paying any attention, would have known that.

    So what next? I have absolutely no idea of the next depravity to be dreamt up by Islamicists. None whatever. My imagination, like yours, is not up to the task. Could it be the destruction by Islamicist nurses of a maternity hospital packed with infidel infants? Or is that too moderate?

    Again, the lack of distinction between extreme and moderate – as if the entire Islamic community is currently brainstorming their next attack against the rest of the world. Or indeed that only those in the Islamic community is capable of atrocities on the epic scale seen many, many times before over many, many generations.

    So now you know why I don’t read Kevin Myers articles – because if I did there’d be a hell of a lot more of these disgruntled responses on the site.