Lahore, Brussels, Baghdad, Paris, and on and on and on – another day, another vile attack against humanity. The latest – a suicide bomb in a children’s playground. What is there to say? What doesn’t sound hollow? Words have become almost obsolete. Our politicians try and find a new way of articulating the nation’s sorrow, or empathy, or resolve, or anger, but the attacks are too regular now and the statements cant help sounding like generic press releases. What can we say about the deliberate blowing up of children while playing on swings, and slides? They killed children. They walked into their park, they saw them laughing, and running, and playing, and they blew them up. Take a deep breath, your hatred for these monsters is completely acceptable. Children. We don’t attack them, we don’t use them as human shields, we protect them with all that we have. They are humanity’s red line. But we know these fascists have no red lines. Islamist violence doesn’t even shock us anymore, not really. They sicken us, yes, every day, but shock us? No, I’m not sure they do. Not anymore. We’ve become inured.
They have beheaded, they have burnt alive, they’ve drowned in cages beneath the sea, they’ve taken women, oh, by now, thousands of women, as sex slaves, buried old women – mothers and grandmothers – in unmarked graves because they weren’t fit for raping, they’ve gauged out eyes of those who dared fight them, they’ve cut of breasts, they’ve forced women to cover every inch of their bodies in thick black robes before being permitted to step ‘outside’ their prisons, they enslaved good men too, they’ve slaughtered thousands, filled countless mass graves, they kill, and maim, and torture, and destroy, and they do every one of these things as a matter of principle. They will not stop of their own accord. They will not listen to reason. You cannot appeal to their humanity. They have none. Please, please understand this – you cannot negotiate with them, because violence and death are not means to their end, they are their end. They are their purpose. They are their aim. They are their faith. They leave us cold. “We will not let the terrorists win”, we say. Tell that to the dead.
One of the most chilling parts of their tactics is the indoctrination of children. In Germany the generation whose childhoods took place under Nazi rule held far higher levels of anti-Semitic views than the generations either side of them. We are currently seeing the creation of fascistic Islamist states, where children are being inducted into this way of thinking from birth. With ISIS now occupying whole towns, there will be children who have known nothing other than their hatred. They are teaching children to hate, to kill. They are teaching boys to despise girls. They are teaching little girls that their role in life is to be a slave. We’ve seen ISIS’ child soldiers, aged as young as 6 or 7 years old, marching with their guns, their knives, executing adult ‘infidels’, chanting willingness to die – and kill – for Allah. We have seen their black headbands adorned with ISIS prescribed phrases, their symbols of indoctrination into the death cult. They are breeding Jihadist armies of the future. If these children are not saved, not rescued, and soon, they will become a formidable army of hate. In years to come they will travel around the world in pursuit of the border-less Jihad which a generation of 20 somethings are ensuring is at the heart of their identities. They will be trained to hate, trained to kill, and kill indiscriminately. And what power will we have to stop them?
I remember reading The Handmaid’s Tale when I was at university. I remember reading it and not being able to understand why it was considered so gruesomely dystopian, when women were living far worse lives than those depicted in Atwood’s pages, out there, even back then, in the real world. Now it’s even worse. There’s no place for fictional dystopian literature anymore. Just turn on the news. I wonder if the current generation of world politicians are capable of changing things. I wonder if the hour hasn’t yet come for those who say, ‘never, ever, ever give up.’ There are a few who articulate the gravity of it – who see that we are at war and understand what that means – but they are still few and too far between. As Andrew Neil put it this Week, “It’s far from clear…. that Europe’s powers-that-be have any real idea of the scale of the threat…before us.” It’s not easy, Christ, of course it’s not. It’s messy. It’s generational. It’s not clear how it will end. But we need politicians who see that the pursuit of world peace is their overriding duty, and that – as we have seen not so long ago – achieving peace can require an almighty fight. We cannot sit out this battle, or enter it half-heartedly. It may take decades, longer even. But we have to win this war. The first step is recognising that it is happening.