Thursday, 14 December 2017

** FATHER FRANK’S RANTS Rant Number 751 7 December 17 AVENGERS


And so, thanks to MI5, the ubiquitous British snoopers, a naive plot by two shaggy young men to kill PM Theresa May has been foiled. After blowing up the iron gate protecting Downing Street, one of them planned to stab May to death. Praise God, the would-be terrorists got caught. Martyr Saint Theresa? The very thought horrifies the priest.

The dastardly scheme triggers a sense of ‘déjà vu’. Didn’t al-Qaeda way back want to bump off Tony Blair?  A sniper was to shoot Tony and Cherie during the 2002 Royal Jubilee celebrations in the crowded Mall. Novelist Frederick Forsyth would have smiled an Olympian smile: a case of life following fiction. Although the Islamist killer didn’t look like the glacial, Aryan-looking, philandering Edward Fox of the Day of the Jackal movie – unless devious Al-Qaeda, like the long defunct OAS, decided to hire an infidel hit-man, hmmm… not impossible.

Only one British Prime Minister was assassinated. In 1812 Spencer Perceval was shot dead in the House of Commons. The motive was trivial: the killer, later hanged, was a bankrupt merchant who blamed the PM for his insolvency. Past examples are more grandiose. Four centuries ago Guy Fawkes and his Gunpowder Plot mates tried to decapitate the British establishment by blowing up at once king and parliament. Catholic zealots, they sought to stir up an anti-Protestant rebellion. King James I, the son of an executed Catholic Queen, Mary Stuart, and the husband of another Catholic, Ann of Denmark, had proved disappointing. And since Pope St Pius V had excommunicated Queen Elizabeth I, English Catholics were under a cloud, suspected as disloyal subjects. King James indeed so feared a pious murderer’s dagger that he wore a quilted doublet. (Tony Blair was pluckier: he refused to wear a bullet-proof vest.) James’ favourite and catamite, the Duke of Buckingham, evidently did not, as a
Protestant fanatic stabbed him to death later at Portsmouth.

Incongruously, Guy Fawkes reminds me of a more recent, would-be religious avenger. Roshonara Chowdry stabbed Labour MP Stephen Timms, to punish him for voting for war on Iraq. Luckily, Timms survived. (Glad the knife wasn’t poisoned, as assassins of old liked to do.) Roshonara got a life sentence. She declined to defend herself, refusing to recognise the jurisdiction of a British court. Would a Sharia’ court have been more lenient? I wonder.

Roshonara was hardly a Charlotte Corday. The French heroine who stabbed to death French ‘terrorist’ (a word revolutionary France invented) Jean Paul Marat in his bath. She took revenge for all the aristocrats and innocent people murdered by the Revolution. Charlotte was one of history’s female avengers, like the biblical Judith who cut off Holofernes’ head and also the Jael who drew a peg into Sisera’s skull. Right on, gals! Girl power rules OK!

The Roman Church of course did not countenance the murdering of rulers. St Thomas Aquinas taught it is all right to rebel against a tyrant – because he is an enemy of the common good – but did not say he should be killed. Only the odd Jesuit, like the learned Spaniard Juan Mariana, in De Rege et Regis Institutione justified tyrannicide. When Henry IV of France fell under the Catholic Ravaillac, the Jesuits were forbidden to teach Mariana’s doctrine. Leaving out ISIS and al-Qaeda, probably unversed in such subtleties, I wonder  whether Zimbabwe’s pensioned off ex-President Mugabe, a Catholic, ever read Mariana. Apparently he considered Tony Blair a tyrant. Missed opportunity, anyway.

The aim of terrorism is to spread terror. That’s no brainer. But why? Terror for its own sake? That would be stupid or irrational and ISIS and its affiliates are neither. A caliphate, an Islamic state is what they crave. The Raqqa-based one is gone but their long term aim must be to set up another one. That being so, they’d better take a leaf out of Lenin’s book. (Or Ayatollah Khomeini’s but their sectarian hatred of the Shia makes that improbable.) Before the 1917 revolution Russia had terrorists galore. Throwing bombs at tsars and archdukes was almost a mass participatory sport. In political terms, it achieved virtually zilch. It only made repression more ferocious. Lenin correctly saw that only mass action and general strike would bring down the regime. After the Russian Army’s debacle in WWI Lenin got his way – bolshevism triumphed. Not thanks to individual acts of terrorism, though. The Iranian Revolution teaches the same lesson. A religious revolution – against history?
No against the Western idea of history. An uprising that has inspired Muslims everywhere.

Another pre-condition to a triumphant revolution is intellectual hegemony. That means that culture has to be favourable to the idea of a radical transformation. So in France the Enlightenment prepared the way for the revolutionaries of 1789. Writers like Rousseau, Voltaire, Diderot and D’Alembert systematically corroded the principles of religion, aristocracy and tradition. They proved what Gramsci, the Italian communist theorist, asserted later: the intellectuals are necessary to prepare the way for the great upheaval. I doubt the gentlemen of ISIS will seduce the minds of Melvin Bragg, Andrew Marr, yuppies and similar rabble. And the Muslim minorities in the West don’t seem to look forward to living under a Raqqa-style caliphate.

Had the shaggy Islamists managed to hurt poor Theresa, what would the result have been? Collapse of liberal democracy? Nationwide tumults in favour of a caliphate? ISIS black flag flying over Westminster? Nope. Just popular hysteria, massive restrictions of civil liberties, paranoid fear of dissenting citizens and…you get my drift.

Unless they start studying and learning from Lenin and Gramsci, Islamists have lost the plot.

Revd Frank Julian Gelli


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