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Christmas 1914’s gift; Christmas 2014’s massacres - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
Christmas 1914’s gift; Christmas 2014’s massacres

Imagine a book. Imagine a book to which the contributors, to give a very brief and partial list, included GK Chesterton and Anatole France, Kipling, Arnold Bennett, AC Benson, Elgar and Debussy, the Aga Khan and Marie Corelli, Thomas Hardy, the painter Fildes and Edmond Rostand of Cyrano fame, Nansen of the Arctic, Mrs Pankhurst, former US president Taft, Arthur Rackham, Edith Wharton, Saint-Saëns, Mrs Humphry Ward, Baden-Powell, Marconi, Andrew Carnegie, Paderewski, that demmed elusive Baroness Orczy, and Rider Haggard. Along with Asquith, Grey, Balfour, Bonar Law, Redmond, Lloyd George, Admiral Jellicoe, Admiral Jacky Fisher, Kitchener, General Booth of the Salvation Army, Sarah Bernhardt, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Jack London, John Galsworthy, Monet, Flinders Petrie, James Montgomery Flagg, and Henri Bergson.

It couldn’t be done today: we haven’t the talent nowadays, and, if we had, we haven’t the unity of purpose to bring together in one cause people as unlikely and as politically and philosophically opposed as Taft, Kipling, London, Bergson, Israel Zangwill, Sidney Webb, the Chief Rabbi, Amir Ali, and the Cardinal Archbishops of Westminster, Paris, and Rheims. The nearest we come is some charidee single by a gaggle of popstars.

The book which I have asked that you imagine, existed: King Albert’s Book, dedicated in Christmas 1914 to Belgium, its monarch, and the Belgian people as they resisted the uniformed war-criminals – Dienst ist Dienst; I was only following orders – of the Wilhelmine Reich (which was, by their execution of the unlawful order to invade neutral Belgium, the neutrality of which Germany had guaranteed by treaty, every damned German in uniform, from the Kaiser down, and every man jack of them ought by rights to have been shot against a wall).

Let us pretend for a moment we could, in these thin and piping times, do something of the sort for those now similarly threatened and oppressed: in the Baltic states and Ukraine, in the Levant, in our own societies – Sydney, for example – wherever terror strikes and some fool excuses or palliates it, suggests a moral equivalence and whinges out a yes-it’s-terrible-but and a We Must Have Empathy; in Peshawar, the newest scene of horror; in Nigeria. Having made the effort which is so clearly beyond our reach, we should then sink back exhausted, assured we had done all we might do by Showing Concern and trending a hashtag.

Sod that for a game of pacifists.

In 1914, they knew better. A book to raise funds for relief was meet, right, and their bounden duty; but it was neither sufficient nor by any means the whole or even a noticeable portion of their duty. Their duty, confronted with the vile, base, and contemptible crimes of Germany, was to fight, and fight to win. (And four years on, wearied by the struggle, it was their folly, and a dereliction of their duty, to accept – over Pershing’s prophetic objections – an armistice rather than unconditional surrender and war crimes tribunals, leaving the whole damned thing to be done over again.)

We are incapable even of that nowadays. And weakness encourages jackals, gives heart to bullies and cowards (and all bullies are cowards at heart): from the savages of ISIL to their moral equivalents including VV Putin to Monis in Sydney to the God damned sodding Taliban, murdering schoolchildren lest a generation of thinking people should arise and reject all they stand for. That ‘talib’ means student is an irony which rises to the level of blasphemous absurdity). In that sense only: that our weakness and inattention and cowardice has allowed this sort of thing to go on: in that sense only, we also bear responsibility for the crimes we have permitted and failed to stop.

It is said that, at the end of his long life, FM the Right Hon. the duke of Wellington admitted to one regret: That he had not given more praise. Wellington was free to have that sole regret because he had, however laconically, done his whole duty, as we have not: he mayn’t have remembered to mention every worthy name in the despatches he wrote, but his despatches were notices of success, pursued to the full and resulting in complete victory over the enemy.

We are not Wellingtons. We are not, for that matter, Churchills and Kitcheners and Jellicoes.

We have failed: for the Taliban yet exist, and ISIL, and Putin has not been toppled, and they continue their depredations against all human decency, and have their apologists even amongst us, in, it sometimes seems, every … fifth column … appearing in the public prints.

We have done almost nothing to relieve the innocent. And for going on six years or more, we have done worse than to have done nothing in fighting the bastards, and winning, and seeking to win outright.

We have not killed enough people. And so they live to kill and oppress the innocent.

We have not killed enough of the enemy.

Let’s get cracking. The blood of Katrina Dawson and of Tori Johnson, the blood of Cpl Cirillo and WO Vincent, the blood of innocent schoolchildren in Peshawar, the blood of those aboard MH 17, the blood of all those murdered by ISIL, cries out.

We have not killed enough of the enemy, or toppled the regimes of the evil.

Squeamishness; cowardice: it doesn’t matter the reason. It is our moral duty to kill the enemy before the enemy murders more of the innocent; and we have failed of that duty. We have not killed enough.

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11 comments or Leave a comment
blamebrampton From: blamebrampton Date: December 16th, 2014 02:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
I knew Katrina Dawson years ago. She was a lovely human being then and never changed. Her blood was spilled protecting her friend and her friend's unborn child. She would not cry out for other's blood. She would cry out for everyone to have a full stomach and an undripping roof and a good school, so that when the handful of bigots that will always exist came around trying to teach their hate, they would find no-one to listen.

wemyss From: wemyss Date: December 16th, 2014 03:18 pm (UTC) (Link)

I condole w/ you on the loss of yr friend.

I also shd like everyone to have a full stomach and an undripping roof and a good school. I shd also like, as I imagine the bereaved parents of Peshawar shd like, to see to it that a 'small handful of bigots' who are less interested in teaching hate than in killing those being taught anything else whatever, were dealt w/ before they cd shoot up that good school and kill its pupils. Our aims are similar, yrs and mine; we seem to disagree on the means.
blamebrampton From: blamebrampton Date: December 16th, 2014 10:12 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: I condole w/ you on the loss of yr friend.

The means as performed by our countries. Should Pakistan's police and army wage not broad war but a series of raids that can have as many targets lost in the process as they like, I will not judge them for it. What we need to remember about the actual terrorists is that they kill innocent Muslims. My goal is that we not do the same. And if we can use our billions to build schools that make doctors out of boys that could end up Talib and lawyers out of girls who could end up the victims of those fools, then we will have done well.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: December 16th, 2014 11:12 pm (UTC) (Link)


I don't recall, my dear Brammers, calling for killing the innocent, of any creed. The UK, and the US, and the Commonwealth, have, for decades and well before the Bush 43 years, done more to save and rescue and protect innocent Muslims than have anyone else, their co-religionists vy much included, you know.

I'd quite like to believe that radicalisation might be stopped by building schools and feeding the hungry, but I am afraid that those are not the grievances, real, imagined, or feigned, which drive these fools (and there have a been a number of vy senior fools who came of upper-middle families and were members of professions, physicians amongst them). I shd also quite like to believe that the de jure Govt of Pakistan (wh, owing to ISI's long history of imperium in imperio and of letting the Taliban and LeT and JeM jinni out of the bottle, wh jinni they now cannot control, is not even in control of the loos in its own govt buildings, let alone the better part of its territory) cd unaided accomplish anything whatever. But wishing does not make it so; and that is but one theatre in any case. Which of course is why I call for destroying, not the innocent, but the enemy who wd slaughter the innocent given any chance at all.
pathology_doc From: pathology_doc Date: December 17th, 2014 12:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
We cannot undo Putin without risking the world, and he is not sufficiently a tyrant for which to take that risk IMO. But we can and should do away with the Taliban, Boko Haram and all their fellow travellers, and we should stand in strident condemnation of all who would apologise for their obscene behaviour from behind the shield which Western arms and warriors provide.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: December 22nd, 2014 02:20 pm (UTC) (Link)

Oh, I don't know.

The markets seem to be doing a good job on Vladimir Vladimirovich just now. As to the rest: Quite.

(I apologise, I was late in responding: I went up to Town for a few days.)
muuranker From: muuranker Date: December 17th, 2014 09:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm rather confused (not unusual) "We have not killed enough of the enemy." Am I in that we?

What I have left undone:
I have not taught enough women to read.
I have not ensured that (with a fair mortgage, if that's needed) enough people own their land/houses/workshops.

I believe a Book for the Season, 2014 is possible. Well, Book for the Season, 2015. "A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."
wemyss From: wemyss Date: December 22nd, 2014 02:26 pm (UTC) (Link)

If you are not in that 'we', you want to be.

The things you regret having left undone - and because I know you well enough to respect you, I do not, as I might otherwise, consider that as twee moral preening and using the innocent dead as lay figures against which to parade a display of superior secular piety - are things in themselves good, and good in themselves. They may even be necessary as some (small) part of the resistance to the evils wh currently beset. They are not at all sufficient.

I advert you to Orwell on the subject.
muuranker From: muuranker Date: December 23rd, 2014 09:36 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: If you are not in that 'we', you want to be.

Thank you for reading thoughtfully, Wemyss.

I am struggling to see how I might, by killing someone, resist evil. Me personally, as opposed to me-the-taxpayer/subject. Me-the-taxpayer/subject sees, but I'm not sure that is what you meant.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: January 7th, 2015 06:26 pm (UTC) (Link)

No, no.

I am not suggesting Sandhurst. I am indeed suggesting the taxpayer/subject business. (I apologise for the delay, I was on the Continent for the hols.)
muuranker From: muuranker Date: January 7th, 2015 08:07 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: No, no.

Many thanks for getting back to me and clarifying that it's not me in Sandhurst, but me funding Sandhurst. Hope the hols were splendid.
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