It goes without saying that I detest the politics of Jeremy Corbyn and Ken Livingstone, and that my delight in their electoral embarrassment will only be restrained by David Cameron’s success. Having said that, I am tired of the endless controversies that surround their little band.
Yes, Naz Shah probably had or has a vague dislike for Jews. It is common among people of her cultural background. Yes, Ken Livingstone is a sad old third worldist with the tiresome obsessions of a Marxist ideologue who has abandoned hope in European revolutionary potential and projected his ambitions onto distant foreigners. It is common among people of his communist background. Trust me, I don’t like this any more than anyone. If I was in power I would ban the word “Zionist” as a first step towards regaining a sense of national perspective.
All I ask is that people be adults about this. The hysterical reaction to their half-witted ramblings made it difficult to even mock their public humiliation. John Mann MP, who is allegedly 56, confronted Livingstone with perhaps the least convincing pro wrestling promo since Owen Hart threatened to kick his brother Bret’s leg out of his leg. “You’re a disgusting racist,” he barked at Livingstone as the one-time Mayor of London pretended to talk on the phone. “You’ve lost it,” he ranted with what I think might now be considered ableism. It reminded one of an old drunkard howling in a nightclub reception, not a Member of Parliament in a rather swanky hall.
On Twitter, meanwhile, Nick Cohen, who has long been criticising the left from the liberal-left, tweeted, “I told you so, you fucking fools”. This was proposed as the title of a Robert Conquest’s The Great Terror, which exposed the astronomical evils of the Soviet Union. One might think that even an oblique comparison between one of the most horrendous tyrannies the world has ever known and a sorry group of aged Marxists is in bad taste. I sure do.
What is the biggest threat to European Jews? By any measure it is Jihadism. Mohammad Merah gunned down children at a Jewish school. Mehdi Nemmouche opened fire in a Jewish museum in Belgium. Amedy Coulibaly shot up a kosher superette in Paris. The anti-Zionist runt of the New Left might give cover to their bloodthirsty adaptations of the more genocidal hadiths but it is peanuts compared to their bombs and bullets.This is not an argument for ignoring everything else but for cherishing one’s embattled sense of proportion.
Why is this important? Well, it is not a harbinger of the endtimes, certainly, but it is representative of a disturbing trend: that which encourages performative outrage as a response to the expression of opinions. Criticising opinions is natural and necessary, of course, but it is becoming more common to burst into fevers in response to statements one dislikes and win the argument less with the quality of one’s opinions than with the sheer energy of one’s emotions. That such a display of pitchforks and flaming torches has silenced a few anti-Israel obsessives is nothing to mourn. That it will silence far more significant and substantive ideas is depressing and inevitable.