‘Assassination,’ the word, was given to the English language by Shakespeare in Macbeth (1.7.2). The great instances ring down in history, together with their setting: Julius Caesar in the Forum, Henri of Navarre in the Rue de la Ferronnerie, the Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo. Innumerable less famous assassinations occurred in the latter nineteenth century in the era of the Romanovs and other monarchies. All were outrages that struck at the ruling system, such as feature in Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent. All had a single objective: political.
So it is remarkable that I have never seen the word applied to the latest notable killing, of Sir David Amess, MP He was stabbed in his constituency surgery at noon October 15 by a man at once identified as an Islamist terrorist, who made no attempt to flee the building after the killing. Sir David was an integral part of Britain’s governing system, which is based on 650 MPs, and he died when carrying out his duties. The name and address of the killer, Ali Harbi Ali, was known and soon made public. He is British born of Somalian origins. And these facts ran into the public address system of Britain.
‘Assassinate’ is vivid, declarative, and unquestionable. It particularizes an event, which otherwise escapes into the general mist of ‘terrorism’. The word is therefore at odds with the linguistic system of Britain, which is above all evasive and euphemistic. So ‘assassinate’ was immediately deleted from the vocabulary of accepted terms. In its place thronged many seemly successors.
‘Terrorist’ is useful and general. It specifies no particular source. No finger is pointed. The public narrative, having admitted ‘terrorism,’ then swerved away to laying all blame on the internet and the intolerance and vitriol it fostered. An immediate target was Angela Rayner, Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Deputy Leader of the Labour Party. She had spoken of ‘Tory scum,’ an untimely addition to current invective which put her in the dock for the death of Sir Keith. She was soon joined there. On the evening of October 15th, the Daily Mirror blamed her for creating ‘the climate of the violence we have tragically witnessed yet again.’ A talk-show speaker, Rob Rinder nailed the charge: ‘Listeners, this has to end. Today it has ended in the death of one of our best MPs.’ Others took up the theme. ‘Social media carries a heavy responsibility for this’ came from Richard Madely, the Telegraph’s agony aunt [should this be uncle?]. With alacrity, the media hunt took up the message in full cry and coursed across several fields at ever-greater distances away from the right one. No one in our free-speech land wanted to say that Sir Keith was murdered by a terrorist who happened to be a Muslim. It was all down to the social media and the violence of its language. If anyone wanted to say differently, it would not appear in print. If on air, the speaker would not be asked to return, a mortal blow to the media class.
The sheer chutzpah of the official narrative is stunning. We are asked to believe that Islamist terrorists are influenced by the anti-Tory abuse traditional in the Labour Party. If Aneurin Bevan, the great progenitor of the National Health Service were alive today he would be denounced by all parties for saying in a public speech: ‘So far as I am concerned, they [the Tories] are lower than vermin.’ He never recanted and is now deified. But that was before the current movement ‘to purify the dialect of the tribe’.
This gagging of the media language has the imprimatur of the State. It is not a matter of laws and edicts. Hammurabi is not called upon to make life tough for offenders. It is much simpler. Editors have a sound idea of what they will pass, and what spike or dismiss. There is no appeal. The prime ruling of State is that Islam is a protected species, not to be jostled by unruly journalists. ‘Muslim’ is not a word to be freely used, since it is usually linked to a noun or adjective which in combination may give offence. No reference can be allowed, for example, to the title of Melanie Phillips’s book Londonistan though it patently describes today’s London, even more so than on its publication (2006). The book exists and is in print, but it may not be referred to. When the late Sir Roger Scruton spoke of ‘Islamophobia’ as a word invented by the Muslim Brotherhood in order to stop discussion of a major issue, he was at once sacked from a Government position by the responsible Minister, Sir James Brokenshire. He shortly apologised, saying that the context of Scruton’s remarks had been incorrectly reported and that Scruton was welcome back. It would have been easy for the Minister to find out the facts before dismissing a major philosopher. But Brokenshire, who died this year, knew the way the wind was blowing and set his sail before it. Everyone in the media knows the direction of that wind.
As always, the enduring passion of the State is thought control. Its poster value is One Nation, with the covert rider that the State cannot be seen to be picking on a distinctive section of the nation. When ‘One Nation’ was advanced in 1950 as Tory policy, by a group of progressive Conservative MPs including Enoch Powell, the great post-war immigration had not begun. Yet the religious, ideological and cultural beliefs of Islam set it apart from the mainstream culture, making ‘One Nation,’ as it has become, an archaism that is more of a paradox than a belief. With the full cooperation of the media, we are given to understand that blame for the killing of Sir David Amiss should be split between Ali Harbi Ali, the social media, and noisy politicians. The klieg lights beat down on the ravaged features of Angela Rayner, the prime suspect, who under interrogation has been forced to recant and apologize for the violence of her language. But she did not do it, and the man who did is never termed an assassin.