The Corner

Euroderb — News Items From The English Papers

One of Tony Blair’s govt. colleagues contributed her two pennyworth to the

debate about British identity, the debate that’s been rumbling on since the

July 7 suicide bombings in London. She said it might be a good idea for

people to hyphenate themselves, as Americans do, finding psychic refuge in

identities like “Caribbean-British,” or “Asian-British.”

This suggestion immediately disappeared under a tsunami of derision from

every political direction. The British know they have some serious problems

with their minority populations, but practically nobody is such a fool as to

think that the USA offers any solutions in this area. Teddy Roosevelt’s

scathing remark about hyphenated Americans seems to be well known over here.

There has been outrage over the news that Omar Bakri Mohammed, a frothing

jihadist cleric, is scheduled to have heart surgery free of charge under

Britain’s National Health Service when he returns from his vacation in the

Lebanon. This gibbering lunatic seems in fact to have been very skillful at

gaming the British welfare state. He has been living in Britain very well

on public assistance – the welfare authorities have even provided him with a

late-model car, and seem to be paying his mortgage.

OBM has said that suicide bombers are glorious martyrs, and that if he knew

someone was about to commit a July 7-type atrocity, he would neither try to

dissuade them, nor notify the authorities. A reader of the Daily

Telegraph, in the Letters column today, wonders whether, since OBM has been living off the British taxpayer, he, the reader, as a taxpayer, will be

arrested for providing financial assistance to advocates of terror under

Tony Blair’s new legislation. Another Telegraph reader has offered to

“cheerfully and without charge” perform the heart surgery on OBM himself.

(This reader does not seem to be a heart surgeon.)

There is now much public support for refusing OBM re-entry to Britain for

his heart operation. It’s not clear, however, that the authorities can

lawfully deny re-entry. The ethnic grievance lobbies are grumbling, and

there is the European human-right laws to be taken into account, as well as

home-grown human-rights legal busybodies like… well, like Cherie Blair, the

Prime Minister’s wife. My bet is that OBM will soon be happily back in

Britain, will get his heart operation, and then, restored to full vigor

courtesy of the British taxpayer, will continue to preach jihad and

“martyrdom” to susceptible young British Muslims.

The French, for all their faults, are much better at this sort of thing.

Last month they expelled a dozen Muslim radicals (though only three have so

far left). As my sister remarked: “The French still know who they are. We

[i.e. the British] don’t, any more.” The French still understand, as the

Anglo-Saxons do not, that in critical matters of public order and security,

you do what you have to do, and pish! to what lawyers or foreigners think.

This attitude carries over into non-critical spheres, too: I got the

dressing-down of my life yesterday from a Parisian lady cop for crossing the

road that circles the Arc de Triomphe, during a gap in the traffic, instead

of taking the underpass. I thought I was headed for whatever has replaced

the Bastille. I mean, she was mad. I couldn’t understand much of what

she said, but it all seemed very emphatic. There is, indeed, something very

emphatic, very final, about a French “Non!” that an English “No” rarely

conveys. Perhaps if we all practiced saying “Non!” the way French cops and

politicians say it, things would improve.

John Derbyshire — Mr. Derbyshire is a former contributing editor of National Review.

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