Theodore Dalrymple responds to one of the most prominent editorial advocates of poltroonery in the face of Islamic threats and intimidation.
It took less than four hours for an associate editor of the Financial Times, Tony Barber, to post a piece on the website of his august publication blaming the journalists and cartoonists of the satirical French magazine (and the two policemen as well?) for their own deaths. Here is what he originally wrote and posted, though he later edited out the final clause:
[Charlie Hebdo] has a long record of mocking, baiting and needling French Muslims . . . [This] is merely to say that some common sense would be useful at publications such as Charlie Hebdo . . . which purport to strike a blow for freedom when they provoke Muslims, but are actually just being stupid.
According to this perverted logic, if the relatives of the 12 murdered men were now to storm into the offices of the Financial Times and shoot 12 staff members because of the considerable provocation offered by Tony Barber, it will prove only that Barber had just been stupid.
There is, of course, a relevant difference between the two cases: when he wrote his disgraceful little article, Barber knew perfectly well that the relatives of the murdered men would not behave in this fashion, and that therefore he was not â€œjust being stupid.â€ Hence, he equates prudence with cowardice, a sure way to encourage (though not perhaps to provoke, in his sense of the word) more such attacks.