Thursday, November 30, 2006

When Extremes Collide

In the Spectator (free reg. required), David Selbourne looks at the disturbing ascendancy of unreason in the blogosphere, both right and left, and considers that some sobering up may be required:

The feeling of world-endingness, of apocalypse, is rife on the sites of the ‘right’. For some, it is ‘the West’ which is done for. ‘We have allowed Islam in. We have sentenced ourselves to death’ is its voice. For others, it is Islam which faces Armageddon. ‘The final day of Islam will arrive very soon’ and it ‘will be vanquished utterly’, a blog prophet promises in biblical tones. Or another American civil war is foreseen. ‘If it breaks out,’ declares a would-be recruit, ‘my only comfort is that the left will be killed first, since most of them don’t carry guns.’

Moreover, just as the Islamist can assert that ‘we will not rest from our jihad until we have blown up the White House’, so non-Muslim terminators look to the day of a nuclear exchange. ‘I just hope the nuke attack comes soon. Let it be on the East Coast where it belongs,’ prays one; ‘I hope I wake up to Washington a glowing hole in the morning,’ prays another, almost in the same terms as the most violent of jihadists. ‘We would be able to fight back even with millions dead in our cities,’ predicts a third, ‘then we’d go get the oil fields.’

In this war of words as well as of worlds, reason is under pressure on all sides. The true complexity of things is being given short shrift by ‘experts’ and by vox pop alike: after all, London is no more ‘Londonistan’ than Israel is a ‘cancer’ and America the ‘Great Satan’. In particular, frustration at America’s reverses is driving many round the bend, if the torrent of opinion in the blogosphere is a guide. Or, as one poster demanded to know, ‘What the hell is our oil doing under their sand?’


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