Beware, says Howard Jacobson, the fanatic who has read only one book.
Maybe, before pondering the education of a jihadist, we should ask a prior question: what makes a fanatic?
We were given some insight into this on Newsnight earlier this week when Evan Davis, growing nicely into his job, interviewed the lawyer, journalist and associate of Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald – a man strikingly deficient in the musculature necessary to essay a smile. The subject was surveillance and David Cameron’s call for more of it. There are, I accept, differing views on this. I, for example, am for having every member of the human family watched day and night by every possible means because the human family is currently dysfunctional and can’t be trusted. But I understand why others don’t think as I do. This puts me in a different category of person from Greenwald, who allows no beliefs that conflict with his and attributes those that do to a cowardly subservience to authority.
Oh my, that’s some good writing there.
Leading Greenwald with expert gentleness into the gated hell that is his mind, Davis put the case for differing viewpoints.
*falls over in awe at that sentence*
Nothing could have been more instructive than Greenwald’s dead expression – his mouth fixed in the rigor mortis of absolute conviction, his eyes unanimated by the pleasure of conversation or the excitement of controversy. Doubt honours a man, but this was the face of someone whom no ghost of a second thought dares visit.
So, beware of monomania. Avoid at all costs having eyes unanimated by the pleasure of conversation or the excitement of controversy.
We rightly shy from holding communities to immediate and unambiguous account for what their most errant children do, but is it wise, is it honest – reader, does it make the world a better place for any of us – to raise the charge of Islamophobia the moment someone questions the communal atmosphere such errancy might have breathed? At the heart of every narrative of belief is a weak spot of exclusivism and dogma waiting to be exploited by its wilder adherents. Monotheism is a grand conceit, but can we really say that it is innocent of the millions of killings in its name? Danger lurks in the tales we all tell.
That guy can do things with words.