Anthony Daniels usually writes under the pen name Theodore Dalrymple. He is the Dietrich Weismann Fellow at the Manhattan Institute. I had the great good fortune of meeting him a few years ago on a National Review cruise when he took an open seat at my table for breakfast. We bonded immediately when I mentioned that I’d heard a lot about him from my friend Jay Nordlinger.
Everything Daniels or Dalrymple writes is worth reading. Having served as a physician in a British inner-city hospital and prison, he draws on an unusual fund of knowledge. Despite the gravity of many of his essays, he is an ebullient man.
Writing in today’s Wall Street Journal as Theodore Dalrymple, the great Dr. Daniels gives us the quote of the day on the London Bridge attacks: “As Prime Minister Theresa May rightly said after the most recent atrocities in London, what the terrorists have in common is an ideology. She rightly called it evil, but it is also stupid: It makes the Baader-Meinhof Gang look like Aristotle.”
Here he adds observations that hit close to home:
An ideology, however stupid, is not easy to destroy; believing six impossible things before breakfast is almost par for the human course. One obvious thing to do would be to strangle the foreign funding of so much Islamist activity in Britain. That is no doubt complicated in many ways, but no British government, solicitous of trade relations, has dared even try. The British economy is precarious, and it is difficult to be strong when your economy is weak.
Instead, we have gone in for what a Dutch friend of mine calls “creative appeasement.” Authorities make concessions even before, one suspects, there have been any demands for them. Thus, a public library in Birmingham, one of the largest known to me, has installed women-only tables, a euphemism for Muslim women only. Whether there was ever a request or demand for sex-segregated seating from Muslims is probably undiscoverable; truth seldom emerges from a public authority. But the justification would almost certainly be that without such tables, Muslim women would not be able to use the library at all.
The Birmingham airport has set aside a room for wudu, the Muslim ablutions before prayer. No other religion is catered for in this fashion (nor should they be, in my opinion), so the impression is inevitably given that Islam is in some way favored or privileged. Again, it would be difficult to find out whether they received requests or demands for such a room or merely anticipated them; in either case, weakness is advertised.
This is not a local problem alone….
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From all this the terrorists surely draw a great deal of comfort. It gives them the impression of living in a weak society that will be easy to destroy, so that their acts are not in the least nihilistic or pointless, as is often claimed. They perceive ours as a candle-and-teddy-bear society (albeit mysteriously endowed with technological prowess): We kill, you light candles. The other day I passed a teddy-bear shop, that is to say a shop that sold nothing but teddy bears. I am sure that terrorism is good for business, but the teddy bears are more reassuring for the terrorists than for those who buy them to place on the site of the latest outrage.
That “creative appeasement” — it’s not just a European phenomenon, of course. It is a cancer that is metastasizing throughout the Western world. To take just one pointed example, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges recently gave her state of the city address in a local mosque. If the ideology of Islamist terrorism is stupid, it’s got nothing on the left’s creative appeasers.
Dalrymple’s column is “Terror and the teddy bear society.”