Saint Jimmy

I never much liked Jimmy Savile when he was alive.    On Top of the Pops he came over to me as a fake eccentric, hollow, faintly grotesque, and not nearly as loveable as he clearly appeared to regard himself.

I knew nothing about his private life and cared even less, and I wasn’t aware of the horrendous allegations that are now pouring out almost daily.  Now that I do know,  I find his creepy showbiz persona not merely dislikeable, but thoroughly repellent.

At the same time, perhaps the most depressing and disturbing aspect of Savile’s decades-long career as a national icon/charity fundraiser and serial rapist/sexual predator is not just the scale and depravity of his crimes, but the fact that he was allowed to get away with them for so long.

Savile has been variously depicted as an arch-manipulator and a brilliant con-man,  which he may well have been.   But the allegations against him suggest that quite often these skills were not even necessary,  and that he was able to carry out his crimes in the secure knowledge that nothing was going to happen to him.

When Savile reportedly laughed in the face of one of his victims who threatened to report him, he had clearly come to regard himself as legally untouchable, and this impunity was due to at best an extraordinary willingness of the various institutions he was involved with to turn a blind eye to his crimes.

These institutions include the BBC, Stoke Mandeville and Broadmoor hospital, and others that will undoubtedly be added to the list, all of whom either failed to respond to rumors and allegations that might have uncovered Savile’s crimes, and at times directly facilitated them.

How can it be that a former wrestler and nightclub manager was placed in charge of a high-security mental hospital and given the run of its facilities?  How was it that nurses at Stoke Mandeville hospital could have been aware that Savile was regularly abusing young patients in their wards, and that such knowledge did not reach the police or the hospital management?

Were Savile’s immediate colleagues, technicians, make up crew etc aware of what was taking place in his dressing room and if so why did they not report it?

The failure of so many institutions to contemplate the dark side of Savile suggests a culture of impunity not dissimilar to the recent sexual abuse scandals of the Catholic Church, in which powerful institutions close ranks and engage in collective omertá to preserve their reputations – even if it allows the abuse and exploitation of children and vulnerable young people to go uninvestigated and unpunished.

In the case of the Church, the reasons for this code of silence are obvious: a  supposedly benevolent religious institution whose priests are given unique access to young people precisely because of their reputation for goodness and purity is not likely to be keen to reveal information to the public that would damage this saintly aura.

Savile cultivated his own saintly aura, and his credulous and adoring admirers were equally keen to place a halo on his peroxide head, whether it was Margaret Thatcher or Pope John Paul II.

But the general unwillingness to look beneath the surface of this ‘national treasure’ – a horrendous media concept,  even when used to describe far less loathsome individuals than Savile – appears to be have been driven not so much by a desire to preserve the reputations of the institutions associated with him, but by the two forces that have done so much to corrupt British society over the last few decades: celebrity and money.

On one hand Savile’s fame made him a prime asset for the BBC, which may have led senior managers to ignore the rumors and allegations that persistently surrounded its star presenter.   At the same time Savile – like many rich men in Britain before and since – was able to use his money to threaten tabloid newspapers with libel.

Savile’s money – or his ability to raise it – clearly shaped the responses of many institutions and individuals towards him.  His fundraising abilities  appear to have made him so important and useful to certain hospitals that they were willing to give him a private office on their premises – regardless of what was taking place in them.

The result was  a culture of impunity in which this truly disgusting and contemptible fraud was able to rape mentally-ill patients at Broadmoor and sexually abuse an adolescent girl recovering from a brain operation, in which few people bothered to report such activities and were routinely ignored when they did.

Savile got away with it and died with his halo intact, a knighthood from the Queen and a Papal Knighthood from John Paul II, among the many other awards heaped upon him.    Now his reputation has turned to dust and posterity has directed the vilification and contempt that he should have received when he was alive – in addition to a long prison sentence.

But no amount of ‘heartfelt apologies’ from the institutions he worked with should be allowed to prevent further investigation into the individuals and organizations that effectively granted him carte blanche for so many years.

On the contrary, if this ghastly episode is to have any positive outcome,  it can only be hoped that Savile’s victims continue to come forward, and that those who turned a blind eye to his crimes or even directly facilitated them are publicly shamed and – if necessary – brought to justice.

And the institutions that acted as his enablers or preferred to look away should also pay compensation to his victims for the contemptible cowardice, stupidity and self-interest, which made Saint Jimmy feel – with good reason – that he could do whatever he liked,  and that no one who mattered would ever give a damn.

 

 

It was the Beeb wot dun it

[stextbox id=”alert”]More than a week after the Norway atrocities, European far-right parties and Islamophobic websites on both sides of the Atlantic have embarked on a new attempt to regain what they clearly regard as the lost moral high ground…[/stextbox]

My piece for the First Post today on the far-right spinning of the Norway massacre.  You can read the whole piece here: http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/82531,news-comment,news-politics,far-right-blames-bbc-for-ignoring-anders-breivik-beliefs-norway-killer-massacre-utoya#ixzz1Ty5udXe8

 

 

The paranoid style in European politics

From the English Defence League to Marine Le Pen’s National Front,  the European far-right has been  at pains to condemn Anders Behring Breivik’s psychotic act of holy war on Friday.   These condemnations may well be sincere, but it is too easy and convenient for these organizations to dismiss the atrocities in Norway as the work of a ‘ violent and sick character’ (Gert Wilders) or an isolated act of extremism by a lone fanatic.

Breivik may well have planned and executed the slaughter in Norway by himself, but his ideas and motivations reflect a set of assumptions that spans the far-right and more mainstream political figures and media commentators.  In Richard Hofstadter’s seminal The Paranoid Style in American Politics, Hofstadter identified a certain political ‘style’ amongst the American right in particular that was characterised by  a ‘ sense of heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy.’

In Hofstadter’s formulation

[stextbox id=”alert”]The paranoid spokesman sees the fate of conspiracy in apocalyptic terms—he traffics in the birth and death of whole worlds, whole political orders, whole systems of human values. He is always manning the barricades of civilization. He constantly lives at a turning point. Like religious millenialists he expresses the anxiety of those who are living through the last days and he is sometimes disposed to set a date for the apocalypse.[/stextbox]

All these characteristics have been evident for some years  in Europe’s shrill and hysterical ‘debate’ about immigration, particularly Muslim immigration.   For more than a decade,  Internet bloggers, far-right demagogues and media pundits such as Melanie Phillips and Mark Steyn have propagated the notion that Europe is in the throes of a new Muslim ‘invasion’ through immigration that is destroying European culture, and that this ‘invasion’ has been facilitated by a liberal/leftist political and cultural establishment driven by ‘political correctness’ and a suicidal ‘ideology’ of multiculturalism.

Even more respectable conservatives such Bernard Lewis and Niall Ferguson have  have accepted the berserko conspiracy theory advanced by the British/Egyptian writer Bat Ye’or, which claims that Europe is being transformed into an Islamic colony called Eurabia and that Europeans have already been reduced to  a state of cultural subjugation or ‘dhimmitude’ by pro-Muslim liberal/leftist elites.

These ideas have  about the same level of intellectual credibility as David Icke’s lizard people.   But they are often recycled by a lazy and often blatantly inflammatory popular press, which routinely publishes lies, exaggerations and distortions about supposed Muslim cultural domination over European societies that present dominant cultural majorities as an endangered species.  Mainstream politicians have  engaged in opportunistic denunciations of ‘multiculturalism’ and authoritarian demands for immigrants to conform to ‘our values’ or leave –  demands that tend to be directed at Muslims.

All these ideas can be found in the  video 2083: A Declaration of European Independence which Breivik posted on Youtube (now removed) to justify his atrocious act of ‘propaganda by deed’ on Friday.   Accompanied by soundtrack of portentous music, a succession of images, texts and slogans presents a dark vision of European society subjugated by a ‘multi culturalist alliance’ made up of Marxists, ‘Suicidal Humanists’ and ‘Capitalist Globalists’, which aims to ‘to harshly suppress any and all political opposition from cultural conservatives by labelling them as racists, fascists and Nazis.’

For Breivik,  multiculturalism is

[stextbox id=”alert”]an anti-European hate ideology, designed to deconstruct European culture and traditions, European identities, European identities, European Christendom and even European nation states.   As such it is an evil ideology, created for the sole purpose for (sic) the eradication of an entire civilisation.[/stextbox]

The main source of this coming destruction is Islam, whose various jihads (demographic, military, ‘drug distribution’ etc) are all facilitated by the ‘Cultural Marxist ‘traitors.’   Compare this with the following post from the Stop Islamisation of Europe’s website on May 16 2010 on the ‘trinity of evil’ that is destroying British society:

[stextbox id=”alert”]

Diversity – Political Correctness – Multiculturalism

This poison has been used to mitigate the punishment of murderers, rapists, and drug dealers who have enjoyed its all embracing protection. While every one of us should be outraged that criminals have been given a charter to freely offend, it presents an even greater danger to our way of life. All over the Western world this trinity of evil is easing our country’s slide into abject servitude to Islam.

[/stextbox]

 

Like many with similar views, Breivik is fond of unreferenced statistics.  Thus we learn that between 1950-2011 42,500 Europeans have been ‘murdered by Muslims in Europe, that 750,000 women have been raped by Muslims and 5.5 million have been beaten and robbed – figures which ‘are conservative estimates and are expected to double within the next decade.’

Breivik also singles out the BBC as a particularly egregious component of this multicultural/jihadist conspiracy,  with a satirical mission statement:

[stextbox id=”alert”]BBC: We support multiculturalism and we are proud to facilitate the Islamisation of Europe!  If you don’t support our Cultural Marxist views then you are, by default, a fascist-racist-Nazi-monster and thus, your opinion does not count. [/stextbox]

This sense of victimhood is a recurring feature of Europe’s ‘paranoid style’.   Take this characteristically measured response to the phonehacking scandal from Melanie Phillips,  which argued that the BBC rather than Murdoch’s News International was the real threat to British media, because

[stextbox id=”alert”]With some honourable exceptions, whether in its drama, comedy, news reporting or current affairs the BBC’s output rests upon certain articles of faith. For example, traditional Christians are all fundamentalist bigots; the science of man-made global warming is settled; opponents of mass immigration are racist; Eurosceptics are swivel-eyed fanatics; and all who oppose these opinions and more are Right-wing extremists.[/stextbox]

The point about this analysis is that it is not an analysis at all.   It is a set of prejudiced and inflammatory opinions without any empirical basis,  driven entirely by Hofstadter’s ‘sense of heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy’.

Breivik’s formulations reflect the same tendencies.    But where he differs from some –  not all – of his contemporaries, is in  his resolute determination to ‘act’  in order to prevent the ‘evil genocide’ taking place in Europe.   Potted vignettes of Charles Martel, El Cid, Richard the Lionheart and – unusually – Vlad the Impaler,  alternate with pictures of the Crusades, and historic Christian military victories over Muslims at Tours and Siege of Vienna, to support Breivik’s announcement of a new Knights Templar which will engage in a new ‘crusade’ that will ‘decimate’ the Cultural Marxists and drive the Muslims from Europe.

Breivik insists that these objectives are not racist or ‘imperialistic’, since

[stextbox id=”alert”]We believe that facilitating the growth of competing cultures within a nation will only result in the weakening of the nation through cultural/religious/ethnic conflict.   We believe that the Japanese and South Korean cultural model is the most superior of all existing models in the world today.  This model is similar to the European cultural model from the 1950s.[/stextbox]

Substitute the word ‘cultural’ with ‘racial’ and you are back in the 20s and 30s, to the Nazi fantasy of a German ‘reservoir of blood’ defiled and polluted by Jews and other racially inferior elements.  Like so many members of the ‘new’ European right, Bleivik uses ‘culture’ instead of  ‘race’ as a justification and rationalisation for the demonisation of Muslims and a rallying cry for an immigrant-free Europe.

Before this utopia can be achieved however, the ‘The European tree of liberty will be refreshed by the blood of our patriots or our Marxist tyrants’ and a new ‘revolution’ spearheaded by the new knightly order,  embodied by Breivik himself, the ideal of the ‘Perfect Knight’ .

In the last section of the video,  comic book illustrations of sword-wielding knights cut to photographs of Breivik himself, the steroid-taking comicbook crusader,  variously posing as a Freemason,  in some kind of military uniform covered in medals and posing action-man style in a wetsuit with a machine gun.

On one level this video suggests a profile of a narcissistic killer, not that far removed from an American high school shooter, with its combination of  victimhood and persecution,  self-admiration and grandiose dreams of bloody omnipotence.  In the days and weeks to come psychologists and criminologists and the media will pore endlessly over his motives that led him to turn on ‘his own kind’ and some may conclude that he was insane.

But his insanity was also a product and a reflection of the toxic bile that has percolated European politics and society for more than a decade and steadily corrupted both. Those who promote fantasies of an Muslim ‘ invasion’ may well be shocked at the horror that took place on Utoya island on Friday, but they should not be entirely surprised that there are those who take such fantasies literally and engage in their own form of ‘war’.

Breivik is not the first far-right activist to contemplate armed ‘resistance’ in recent years, and he may not be the last.   Faced with this gross act of barbarism, it is incumbent upon both civil society and politicians to challenge and expose the paranoia, xenophobia and concealed racism that indirectly contributed to it,  and find ways to construct a common European home for all its communities – not only those who Breivik and his ideological fellow-travellers have decided have a unique and exclusive ‘right’ to be here.