Some things I lack the stomach for, and I’ve been unable to watch even short snippets from either of the American political conventions. One checks the news by Internet, receives it through email, notices headings in the newspaper boxes grouped by the trolley stop. Sometimes they are yuge. People leave papers in the seats, full of lifestyle features, and lifestyle ads. If a “story” catches one’s attention, one pursues it: a story such as that on which I touched, yesterday. I wanted to know more about the backgrounds of the two Muslim hitmen.
Hardly to my surprise, I learn that the latest murderous adolescents were problems for the state’s social services long before they were “radicalized.” One was diagnosed as nuts by the child-shrinks at the age of six. The use of drugs usually comes into it. There are family “issues,” and schoolyard issues, in most cases. The child makes himself despicable and is thus despised. His race and religion need not come into it: denizen of a Muslim ghetto, he is surrounded by his own. Yet he is not isolated, because the blue-rays of the outside world are beamed in. His confusion is exacerbated by the deconstruction of all cultures in the contemporary West: the loss of continuity in custom and governing norms. He becomes a different kind of Muslim from his parents, who can’t understand him. In many mosques, financed by the oil-monied Wahabis, the worst features of Islam are emphasized. The Islamists do much recruiting there, and also in prisons: like the Communists before them, they are looking for psychoses to exploit. And of course, the Internet is a great boon, to all of satanic tendency.
A proof, to my mind, that we deal with the unbalanced, is the incompetence of most terror strikes. The operatives kill and maim a handful when, with the weapons they had accumulated, they could have killed far more. They lack the needed organization and skills. But training psychos is like herding cats.
The Daesh in Iraq and Syria pretend to run a military organization, but from everything I’ve seen, it is poorly disciplined. A real army will reject psychologically unstable recruits: they get in the way of teamwork. They won’t properly focus on whom to shoot. Their reckless, suicidal courage is more a danger than an inspiration to their comrades. Even one-on-one in a boxing ring, a psycho is too wild. He will score a knock-out only by chance, get knocked down easily, and always lose on points. No professional sportsman could want to coach a psycho.
No, war is serious business, and it is a huge scandal that the Daesh were not wiped out in short order. The Arab armies opposing them are also poorly disciplined, for cultural reasons our technologist trainers are ill-equipped to plumb. But behind these dubious allies, is the schizophrenic, shadow-boxing West. Our attacks are almost entirely from the air: mallet blows against the ants in their native sand. We have not wanted to get our hands dirty — to suffer casualties in an electoral season — and besides, the Daesh have been convenient to many political interests, not only within the Middle East.
But mostly, we are pussies (it is best to put this in a vulgar way), whose minds are addled by “political correctness.” We don’t know who we are; we cannot find a place in our own multiculture; we can imagine nothing to defend that is not some evanescent abstraction. Consumer goods have not made us concrete. Jogging has not fortified any spiritual muscle. (It is just another drug.)
Whereas, previous generations knew who they were; and were thus capable of understanding when they had been attacked. They had some concept of adulthood. We had men, once. And the thing about men is they have something to protect, beginning with women and children — and ending, as for that manly priest in France, with that desperate attempt to defend the sacraments. God made men that way, and with time, I expect, they will return to their calling. But for now, we are experimenting with our own, amateur, designs: the New Man, “liberated” from his masculinity.
The post-modern male has only his own strange and unaccountable package of appetites and lusts; and the strange and unaccountable restraints upon them, beyond self-regulation. He is pure consumer, and he is lost. That is what lies behind, “No more war!” It is not principled pacifism, ready to sacrifice — to die, rather than to kill — but a consumer choice, a lifestyle option.
I am not a priest. Neither, so far as I can see, are the ten-thousands posting “Je suis prêtre” in the latest public display of maudlin and posturing grief in France. Most aren’t even Catholics; it is this week’s way to self-congratulate, in solidarity with the crowd. Few will ever find themselves in any real and present danger from Islamists, and if one does, I doubt that “Je suis prêtre!” is what he will exclaim.
But I began with political conventions. We do have a problem with our world falling apart, and some of it is the consequence of a resurgent, militant Islam — a genuinely external phenomenon, with which we ought to be familiar, after fourteen centuries of it. And the choice, for voters in the West’s only superpower, is now between Hillary Clinton, who is not a woman, and Donald Trump, who is not a man. People are “angry,” but cannot articulate why. They cannot look into themselves, to discover what is wrong; instead they look outward for the latest scapegoats.
This feels to me like a lifestyle option, a consumer choice — strange and unaccountable, like evil.