Monday, August 4, 2014

Holier than thou

We have all had to experience this: the people who strut in their ethical superiority because they disapprove of those of us who make rather black jokes about some ghastly event in the world. Just recently I found myself admonished by one of these holier-than-thou characters for making some comment about MH17 that was not simply a string of meaningless words that express horror and sorrow and yet more horror. The same person made it quite clear that in arguing Israel's case I was showing myself to be lacking in sensibility as people and, especially, children were being killed. To be fair, this person thought that those arguing the anti-Israeli case were equally lacking in sensibility. Clearly hadn't read the memo on how to be holier than thou.

As we know it is only those who are against Israel and, allegedly, support the Palestinians (see here and here) can be said to be sensitive to human suffering and children's deaths. (Well, no, since you mention it, not Israeli children being under attack.) In the same way I recall being told that my support for a nuclear deterrent showed my hatred for peace, love of war and carelessness about potential deaths. It could not possibly have shown that I did not think appeasement of a militant totalitarian system was unlikely to create peace or prevent deaths.

The holier than thou attitude over the Middle East or, to be quite precise, the bit of the Middle East that concerns Israel is fed by Hamas propaganda and, above all, those pictures. Those terrible pictures of people being shot, bombed, killed, their homes destroyed, their children killed, over and over again.

James Delingpole, never the most patient of men, has definitely lost his temper over the whole question, telling people to "spare him the sick manipulative dead baby propaganda photos". I know how he feels.
The boy - no older than five - was on a hospital bed. It must have happened very recently because there was still colour in his face. His eyes were closed and his expression - he can't have seen it coming, thank God - was serene. You might almost have imagined him asleep, if it weren't for the fact that his body was in bits: head and severed torso; an arm; legs and lower body; entrails.

Whoever did this, I thought, is really, really sick.

But I didn't mean the Israelis - who, I imagine, were the people I was expected to blame. Rather, I meant the sicko who scooped up the boy's remains while they were still fresh and insisted on laying them out, like some grotesque jigsaw, in order to snap them artfully for a propaganda shot. And also, all the sickos out there who have been reposting photos like these all over the internet in order to make what they seem to imagine is an unarguable point about Israel's war on Hamas.

The point they are trying to make goes like this: here is a dead child; killing children is evil; Israel killed this child; therefore Israel is evil.

Are you buying this argument? I'm not. I don't even think it qualifies as an argument. In fact, I think it has about as much insight and depth as one of those posters with kittens on it saying: "Today is the first day of the rest of your life."
Yet, that is precisely the way the argument runs, just as it ran back in the days of the old Cold War: if there is a war people might get killed so if you do not think we should disarm thus making it impossible for us to defend ourselves, you are in favour of people being killed.

Delingpole goes on:
What I loathe about it is its mixture of hectoring presumption and manipulative dishonesty.

Presumption: "If you support Israel, then you clearly don't care about dead children," it says. (Is there anyone in the world who isn't moved by the sight of a dead child? I don't think so. The people who are implying otherwise are beneath contempt).

Dishonesty: other than the truism that war is hell, the photograph actually tells us nothing.

We have no idea whether this boy was actually a victim of the fighting in Gaza - or of the far bloodier and uglier civil wars in Syria and Iraq.

If he was indeed a Palestinian, we have no idea whether he was killed by Israeli fire or by Hamas ordinance.

Nor, even if he was killed by Israeli fire, do we know the circumstances. Maybe it was a tragic mistake; maybe, he was one of those innocents that Hamas likes to use as human shields in its rocket launching sites; maybe he was being used as a "tunnel rat"; maybe he'd tried to flee with his family to a shelter only to be driven back to his apartment by Hamas who recognise the propaganda value of dead children.
Read the whole piece. It is not long and he does not think killing children is a good idea. Trust me.


  1. Can I just point out that bodies are not re-arranged by 'sickos' in hospitas for photos, nor are they obviously left in bits on the tarmac.
    Don't forget someone needs to identify them. That is not done by having relatives figure out the puzzle.

  2. Can I once again point out that if you do not have a name your comment is of no interest to anybody?