A burning clarity amongst the beige
In an age when most British students learn to think in “belief-beige”, the pernicious relativist doctrine that “one should always be alive to the possibility that one is wrong”, it is a source of considerable joy that Douglas Murray vigorously bucks the trend that he abhors. His confident and scholarly homage to neoconservatism is both an exhibition of and an argument for moral clarity, a defining feature of the neocon “mood” or “persuasion” (it’s not a “movement” or a “cabal”). Such clear moral thinking, which has long permeated the works and speeches of neoconservative thinkers from whom Murray distils an excellent opening context, reaches its modern-day apotheosis in George W. Bush after the tragedy of 9/11: “We are in a conflict between good and evil, and America will call evil by its name”.
Murray contrasts this with the way in which so many “contemporary poseurs” fail to make serious moral distinctions. Noam Chomsky is one of the ‘moral equivalence’ gang, deceitfully likening the war in Afghanistan to “a sort of silent genocide”. He said that America were advocating the slaughter of not “merely thousands of innocents like the desperate crew who brought down the World Trade Center … but millions”, although when it was pointed out to him two years later that nothing of the sort had happened, he brazenly replied that he had “predicted nothing”. Funny how those who are the most sloppy with moral terminology in comparing regimes are the most insistent on technical linguistic accuracy when defending themselves against charges that they have been proven wrong.
This morally illiterate
counter-culture had long been visible in this country in relation to Israel. For many years, the BBC, the
Guardian and the Independent have given succour to fundamentalist Islamists and
Palestinian terror organisations in Nazifying this isolated democracy and stripping
the Holocaust of its exceptionalism. By the time of the War in
Murray sharply observes that Blair captured
the “ideal neoconservative expression” when he responded to the tedious charge
that he was not taking action against other tyrants with the pithy chiasmus: “I
don’t because I can’t, but when you can, you should”.
Murray also reserves some appropriately pointed words for the anti-war brigade: “Its immoral members openly celebrate violent attacks on western society; its more moral members are simply incapable of coming up with any but the most hollow reasons for why such attacks are wrong”.
The way out of this malaise and the
Moynihan was right. People do say
that, because those lies are told and repeated. Syria sits on the Security Council,
genocide went unnoticed in Congo, Rwanda and the Balkans and now,
Murray would no doubt agree that this is simply what happens when relativism reaches its endpoint: moral equations eventually lead to not just the excusing of the guilty but the active support of evil. How else can one explain the Mayor of London entertaining one of the “greatest inspirations to jihadists and suicide-murderers, Sheik Yusef al-Qaradawi”? Only a positive and robust commitment to neoconservatism and moral absolutism can save us.
This outstanding short book, always
written with wit, elegance and flair, enables one not just to understand better
the world in which we live, but to understand with a burning clarity our own
duties and responsibilities within it.