Two current stories, one from the US and one from Britain, together further the idea that there is a strange, self-destructive madness lurking in the West, in this case in two institutions which one would like to regard as pillars of sanity—the US Armed forces and the British Parliamentary Conservative Party.
First the US story: On July 16th 2015 Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez opened fire at two military installations at Chattanooga, killing five servicemen before he was himself gunned down by responding officers.
Although these installations—one was a recruiting office—are obvious targets for terrorists, an idiotic rule prevents military personnel there carrying weapons to defend themselves, even after the shocking Fort Hood massacre. The terrorist was able to cut the US servicemen down like sheep.
The massacre was only stopped when a US Naval officer, Lieutenant-Commander Timothy White, the officer in charge of the centre and therefore the man responsible for the safety of its personnel, armed with a personal firearm, fired back in an attempt to stop the murders. It is not clear whether, in the chaotic situation, White hit Abdulazeez, or whether he was brought down by police fire, but it can be argued that White’s actions – obviously at risk to himself – certainly helped to deter further carnage. The killer would obviously have made White his principal target if he could, so White, as well as defending his men in facing the enemy, was also acting in self-defence.
Knowing someone is returning fire tends to throw out even the most dedicated terrorist’s aim, and rather than walking through a military installation, randomly killing unarmed but uniformed soldiers, Abdulazeez was forced to engage armed defenders.
Now, quite unbelievably, according to a report from former US Congressman Allen West, instead of receiving a medal or commendation for his brave act, White is to be prosecuted by the Navy for discharging a firearm on Federal property!
It appears that at the very least his career will probably be ruined. Should he receive nothing worse than a dishonourable discharge he will lose all pension rights (he is married with a seventh child on the way). Even if he is acquitted completely, he faces a horrible and disgraceful ordeal. Irrespective of the outcome, the process itself, with one being treated like a criminal and the hideous uncertainty of the future, is a heavy punishment.
Had he, with a firearm on him, allowed Abdulazeez to go on murdering US servicemen—his men, whose care he was charged with—until Abdulazeez ran out of ammunition, he would presumably have been held by the Navy to have done the right thing and would not be facing any charges! Had he been captain of a US Navy ship (also Federal property) instead of commander of a shore installation, and the ship been attacked by pirates instead of a terrorist, should he have greeted them by singing “Kum-ba-yah?”
This is the new, compulsively politically-correct administration Barak Obama has worked to create. Whether he is also personally as well as theoretically responsible (as Commander-in-Chief) for the decision to prosecute White is not known, but he could stop this outrageous prosecution with a single phone-call or let it be known that if White is convicted he will at once pardon him. So far he has done nothing. Why have the Secretary of the Navy or the Navy’s representative on the Joint Chiefs of Staff also apparently done nothing. As White had a responsibility to protect his men, they also have a responsibility to protect White.
Our second case of politically-correct madness comes from Britain. It does not encompass murder or ruined careers, or, at least as far as the latter is concerned, not yet. Conservative MP Mark Spencer wants new banning orders intended to clamp down on hate preachers and terrorist propagandists to be used against Christian teachers who teach children that homosexual marriage is wrong.
Spencer called for those who use their position in the classroom to teach traditionalist views on marriage to be subject to “Extremism Disruption Orders” (EDOs), tough new restrictions planned by Prime Minister David Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May to curb radicalisation by jihadists.
In a letter to a constituent, Spencer, the Member for Sherwood in Nottinghamshire, insisted that Christian teachers were still “perfectly entitled” to express their views on same-sex marriage—but only “in some situations”—whatever that means: presumably when they are alone in the depths of Sherwood Forest and out of earshot of this new Sheriff of Nottingham (No jokes about Robin Hood and his Merry Men, please!)
Christian campaigners said Mr Spencer’s remarks confirmed what they had previously warned: that those who believe marriage should only be between a man and a woman would now be “branded extremists”.
Ministers have signalled that the orders, expected to be a key plank of the Government planned new Counter-Extremism Bill, would be used not only to curb the activities of radical Islamist clerics but those who promote other views deemed to go against “British values”.
Ministers have defined British values in the past as including broad notions like democracy, tolerance and the rule of law. However, the phrase can, of course, can be used to mean anything, and we can fairly safely assume it will be used to enforce political correctness. One is reminded of the French Revolutionary Law of Prarial which prescribed the guillotine for those possessing a “bad moral character.”
Far from promoting patriotism and “British values”, whatever they may be, it could well be used to attack expressions of them. Indeed, this has already happened, with a man arrested for quoting a passage from Winston Churchill’s early book The River War, critical of Islamic culture, and in particular critical of its oppression of women. Simon Calvert, Deputy Director of the Christian Institute said: “I am genuinely shocked that we have an MP supporting the idea of teachers being branded extremists for teaching that marriage is between a man and a woman.
“This is exactly the kind of thing we’ve been warning about.
“The Government says we’ve got nothing to worry about from their new extremism laws, but here is one of its own MPs writing to a constituent saying EDOs would stop teachers teaching mainstream Christian beliefs.”
He added: “Ten years ago the Conservatives opposed Tony Blair’s unpopular law against ‘inciting religious hatred’, saying it jeopardised free speech—yet here they are seeking to bring in an even worse law.
“EDOs will be a gross infringement of free speech and undermine the very British values they claim to protect.”
Keith Porteous Wood, executive director of the National Secular Society said: “To suggest that EDOs guarantee freedom of expression is not just inaccurate, it is the opposite of the truth; they are the largest threat to freedom of expression I have ever seen in Britain.”
Kipling’s poetry might well be next in the sights, and much of Shakespeare is suspect. No progressive today would care about the anti-Semitic passages of The Merchant of Venice, it apparently being open season on Jews once again, but what about Othello? We might in general be heading straight back to the days of punitive censorship which the enlightened thought had died with the Lady Chatterley trial.
Indeed the new censorship will be more obnoxious than the old. The banning of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, a boring piece of pornography, neurosis and class-hatred, did nobody any harm. The new censorship may be a much more thorough-going enemy of freedom.
It adds up to further evidence that while David Cameron has shown a very creditable grasp of fiscal policy and economic management, there is little evidence that he understands metapolitical issues.