All The More Reason

Simon Jenkins
October 3, 2006, 9:34 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Martin Amis has given an interview where, for me, he nails what is wrong with much of the British and American Left. The West, he argues, is ‘punch-drunk’ on 30 years of multicultural relativism. He calls for a revival of snobbery. ‘Not class and all that shit. Intellectual snobbery, aesthetic snobbery. Roger Scruton says the West is suffering from a kind of moral obesity. It can’t act.

Nowhere is this moral stasis more evident than in Simon Jenkins’ bi-weekly Guardian columns. This week he argues that the West has no authority to stop ethnic butchering as it has failed to intervene in other humanitarian crises. ‘Kant’s moral imperative must be universalisable or it loses all force as both a rule and a deterrent.’ We should sympathise with the poor Sudanese, he argues, ‘but what is the point of telling such peoples to stop squabbling and behave? How would we react if they lectured us on Northern Ireland?’.

Has Simon Jenkins gone mental? Not only is he advocating the West’s abandonment of the whole of the world because part of it has not been helped, he draws a moral equivalence between genocide and a conflict that, even at its nadir, never pricked the surface of what is happening in Darfur, where at least 300,000 people have died since 2003.

Jenkins further cements his myopic brand of humanitarianism in the following non sequitur: ‘The janjaweed are not in my country, not my business and, most important, not a problem within my power to solve. Many conflicts have required external military sanction, including the Falklands, Kuwait, East Timor and, after a false start, Kosovo. This never applied to Iraq or Afghanistan.’

I would ask him, and those who subscribe to his thesis, to present it to people actually living in Iraq and Afghanistan – to those, as Jenkins puts it, who are dependent on ‘the inhumane folly of our interventionist machismo’. I would ask him to explain to girls receiving an education for the first time in Afghanistan that British troops have acceded to the demands of militant Islamists and that their very presence in school is soon to be a criminal offence. I would ask him to explain to these girls how they might prepare for a future as uneducated, housebound chattels.

Finally, I would ask Mr. Jenkins to explain to the millions of Iraqi women and men who voted in Iraq’s first democratic elections why – against the express wish of their elected representatives – British and American troops should now withdraw.

Justin M


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