Sir Simon Jenkins, Chairman of the National Trust and columnist in the Guardian is a charming man. Urbane and invariably polite he moves with ease within the highest social circles. Even as a journalist he manages to exemplify what for many is the archetypical English gentleman. After PPE at Oxford he started work with Country Life before moving on to the TES, the Economist and editorship of the Times. Sir Simon is very much a man of the establishment, he is also a man with form.
Following the murder and beheading of Lee Rigby in Woolwich Sir Simon in his Guardian column deplored the fuss being made over this ‘mundane murder’. The Nairobi and Peshawar atrocities have given Sir Simon another opportunity to look down on the concerns of the ordinary people who do not share his lofty position.
The reason Muslim militants perpetrate such appalling atrocities? According to Sir Simon, ‘Sometimes we should stop and ask why terrorists commit outrages like that in a Nairobi shopping mall. The answer is the west always over-reacts to big, sensational gestures of extreme violence.’
Sir Simon seems to think that if only we stopped making such a fuss over the deaths of a few people in a shopping mall the nasty men, who totally misunderstand their own religion, would realise how futile their actions were and stop and go back to herding goats or whatever it is they do.
Unfortunately Sir Simon, making al-Shabaab sit on the naughty step will have little effect.
However we understand Islamic terrorism pretending that actions like this never happened, or are just another part of modern life to be accepted with minimal comment, is not a credible approach. For Sir Simon, as for the others who form our social elites, it may be distasteful and ‘not quite the done thing’ to dwell on incidents like this. For those lower down the social scale who are not insulated from the realities of life Islamic aggression is a much more pressing matter which can’t be brushed under the carpet.
Sir Simon’s response to the atrocity in Peshawar is even more offensive. ‘The slaughter of Christians in Peshawar this weekend showed that wherever crowds gather they are vulnerable to any group with a brainwashed youth and a bomb. It might be sensible to discourage like-minded crowds from gathering in one place.’
Sir Simon’s answer to the bombing of Christian churches is to recommend that Christians be discouraged from going to church. Thus Sir Simon calmly recommends that the way to solve the problem is to concede victory to the Muslim terrorists.
It is impossible to write further about such a crass, offensive and odious statement. Especially when a friend, the Rev. Aftab Gohar a Church of Scotland minister in Grangemouth, is now in Pakistan to bury his mother and other relatives murdered after they, with a ‘like minded’ crowd, came out of church last Sunday morning.