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E-mail: nataliesolent-at-aol-dot-com (I assume it's OK to quote senders by name.)
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( 'Nother Solent is this blog's good twin. Same words, searchable archives, RSS feed. Provided by a benefactor, to whom thanks.
I also sometimes write for Samizdata and Biased BBC.)
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Thursday, July 01, 2004
In defence of Yasmin: everybody does it. In this post Norman Geras censures Yasmin Alibhai-Brown for wishing for more violence in Iraq in order to prove to herself and others that the war was wrong.
I have to admit that I have found myself doing the same thing as Yasmin quite often. Not about the war, obviously. Being a supporter of it, my passion to be proved right (the Grand Vizier of passions, always present, always powerful but content to let others seem to rule) and my desire for peace in a liberated Iraq could run in tandem. In fact so strong was my desire and so weak my ability to do anything to bring it about that I reverted to a childhood habit and wished for magic powers.
When I was a kid there was a TV series called The Invisible Man starring David McCallum. I used to fantasize about getting a similar superpower, then sneaking on to an aeroplane heading for some unhappy land, and once there freeing captives and killing tyrants. My ideas as to the exact means of tyrannicide were distinctly vague. Indistinctly vague. Whatever; fast forward to the aftermath. "But Minister, I swear," the terrified chief of police would wail, "No one - absolutely no one, was in the room with the Maximum Leader. Aieee, surely it is They Who Walk who have done this!" Then the two confrères in evil would flee by helicopter (with me in the back seat, did they but know it) from the top floor of the Presidential Palace as the jubilant mob broke down the door and stormed up the stairs.*
Er, yes. Back to the point. Entering now my fifth decade, I find myself wishing for minutes at a time that I could broadcast a loving tolerance ray from a secret base in Baghdad and make all the suicide bombers go home and hug their mothers.
If you wish to laugh, do so quietly or you might just find your knicker elastic being pursued by a floating pair of scissors. The morally troubling case is when one is proved right, as Yasmin Alibhai-Brown thinks she is, not by the repentant tears of a terrorist but by the success of horrible deeds. I have sometimes thought that, by gum, the history of the last three years would have been very different if Osama's boys had actually attacked whatever EU building it was that they originally planned to blow up. True, I do not entertain this thought seriously or for long. If - having visitied La-la land once this post, I might as well stay there - if I had a time machine that put me in a position to stop or allow the EU attack, I'd stop it. But, oh hang it all, says a little voice in my head, it's so important that we win this one, and if it wasn't just Yanks getting killed but European bureaucrats too then the chances of that might be improved... save lives in the end...
Next stop, Yasmin's country.
Traditional morality is very hard on all this. It is a sin to wish evil in order to puff up your own pride. Traditional morality is right.
Still, my guess is that similar feelings are common all over the political spectrum. Now that Yasmin Alhibai-Brown has seen her own inner demons I wish her strength in controlling them.
*That git Ceausescu set the dogs on me, but they got him in the end.