Matthew Parris, a venerable writer in The Times and former Conservative MP, made the assertion in the aforementioned paper that we are all just a bit over anxious and losing perspective about the egregious attacks (in Australia, Pakistan and France) of the past week. He feels that the public and the media unfairly play the racial card on this and, especially in the US, overreact to the events.
Matthew’s research led him to the intriguing fact that there are more Americans dying from wasp stings than from religiously driven beheadings, by a factor of 11 to 1. The numbers are undeniable. 55 US citizens died as a result of a sting or stings from an insect last year, whilst during the same period 5 US citizens were murdered by barbaric extremists. There are so many ways to dissect this but none of them support Matthew Parris’s rationale. Furthermore, this ongoing apologist view of race-based hatred and murder seems to be gathering far more pace than it should.
So I posed these simple points to Matthew:
a) 5 American citizens “only” are killed a year because the US has to spend billions of dollars to prevent daily massacres of biblical proportions by terrorists mainly driven by Islamic narratives.
b) Trivialising murders by terrorists by comparing to attacks by wasps is massively disrespectful to those who are victims of terror attacks. A friend of mine is, at this time, remembering the 4th anniversary of being the victim of a Palestinian terrorist kidnapping, being stabbed 14 times, being left for dead whilst witnessing her friend being brutally murdered.
The still far too frequent terrorist events such as these are, I suggest, not the same as being stung by a wasp.
A wasp is an insect. It attacks as a basic reaction to an imminent threat. That is NATURE. Humans rarely die from a wasp sting as it we have enough body mass and protection to render the sting a mere irritation. Beheadings are the result of a specific philosophy and upbringing. That is NUTURE. Humans rarely survive a blow with a knife to the neck.
One criticism levelled by all sides is that there are numerous tracts within religious books of many faiths that speak of violent and belligerent acts. Unquestionably these tracts exist. They are not obscure but relatively clear. However, responsible society has learnt to moderate and interpret these stories for what they are; stories not instructions. They represent a different time when barbarism and violence went unchecked and the moral compass had no direction. In Christianity and Judaism no one is using these violent tracts as “just cause” for murder or punishment. The Old Testament talks of stoning, an eye for an eye, ritual slaughter, yet I have never heard a rabbi or a vicar demand that we implement these actions or encourage such behaviour (nor, I am sure will I ever). Actually, the contrary is usually the case when I listen to rabbis sermons of such events. These stories act as a reminder of how not to behave. There lies the fundamental difference with fundamentalists.
The liberals seem all too keen to excuse the Sydney café murders as a one off “lone wolf attack” (despite three vehicular terror attacks in France this week done with similar intent and intonations). This was just a madman. The Islamic flag, the screams of “allah akbah” were just a fashion not an extolling of intent. In Pakistan, when there is no denying that religion was the justification to murder innocents in their classrooms, everyone appeased the notion that religion was involved by denying it was their religion.
David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, at his residence for Chanukah candle lighting this week said:
I know that it happened on the other side of the world, but I think the appalling events in Peshawar…. are a reminder, whether we needed it, that there aren’t bad terrorists and less bad terrorists – there are terrorists. They kill. They maim.
So, to the crux of the matter. Within religion, there are all manner of aspects of humanity. It does depravity as well as beauty. That is our nature. But only the evil in mankind has the ability to nurture the horrors. Stop that nurture. Rather than trying to excuse it, we need to be brave and confront it. Matthew Parris feels that ISIS, Islamic Jihad and the like are trying to draw us into a holy war by trying to associate murders with religion. If we keep on denying it, it will continue and proliferate.
Read David Cameron’s full speech here.