by Kevin Meagher
Yesterday a man appeared in court charged with murdering four soldiers in the IRA’s Hyde Park bombing three decades ago.
Hours later, in the same city, another British soldier met his death at the hands of those pursuing a markedly different political cause.
The comparison with the Provisional IRA is instructive in making sense of what happened in Woolwich yesterday afternoon.
The cause, (if not its modus operandi), of Irish republicans is a rational one, rooted in the Enlightenment and with a realisable end goal, namely a united Ireland. It can be negotiated with and is capable of compromise. It can, and largely has, rechanneled its efforts along peaceful, democratic lines.
What we saw yesterday afternoon in Woolwich was the opposite of this in almost every regard.
It is still early days, but it appears two young men, adhering to a radicalised version of Islam, were prepared to murder a random stranger by running him down in a car before decapitating him in broad daylight. Rather than flee the scene, they hung around, keen for some form of martyrdom, or at least notoriety, courtesy of YouTube.
It is now customary to say the perpetrators of these attacks have been ‘radicalised’. This is the nebulous term always used to describe the process of indoctrination that drives young muslims to these fanatical extremes.
But radicalised by what? By way of explanation, we are told that the actions of Israel, or US drone strikes, or the presence of foreign troops in muslim lands helps explain what motivates young men – and women – to waste their lives in its cause.
But Islamic jihadi extremism is lunacy; a cartoonish creed that demands a worldwide Caliphate and death to the non-believer. It is neither a liberation movement nor does it have realisable goals. It is a fascistic ideology that feeds on conspiracy theories and bloated grievances.
Just assuming for a second that we indulged its madness and that ‘The West’ was interested in suing for peace and acceding to its demands, who does the foreign office negotiate with? What are the terms of our surrender? Will there be a transition period? Will we still be allowed to have Coronation Street under the Caliphate?
Levity, we can safely assume, will be banned.
What makes yesterday’s barbaric murder so terrifying and sickening is that it was not just bad, it was, quite literally, mad.
Kevin Meagher is associate editor of Labour Uncut