Occasionally, in the wake of a terror attack somewhere in the western world, I'll find myself in a TV studio where highly intelligent experts are arguing that this is why we need to hit Raqaa right now, or institute even more extreme vetting, or get better cooperation between our 473 police and intelligence and counter-terrorism agencies, or devote more resources to anti-extremism outreach programs, or install bollards up and down the land until every bollard is itself ring-fenced with bollards, which appears to be the plan Malcolm Turnbull is implementing in Australia, bollards upon bollards upon bollards...
All of which has far less to do with what's happening than the remorseless expansion of the lavish comfort zones throughout the west in which the terrorists live - and in which the visions that animate them spread as easily as zebra mussels on a Great Lake. A few days after the Ariana Grande Manchester bombing, I wrote about the world in which the killer, Salman Abedi, was raised - his family, his friends, his neighbors, and his schoolmates. It included this passage:
Later Salman attended Salford University, where a classmate or two might have noticed his tendencies toward "extremist thoughts" and signed him up for the Government's "Prevent" program, which is designed to "prevent" "extremism". Alas, Salford University is committed to preventing "Prevent": Under its president Zamzam Ibrahim, the Students Union announced that it would boycott the "Prevent" program because, although it's supposed to target "extremism", Zamzam & Co have somehow got the idea that as a practical matter it targets Muslims. And targeting Muslims is, of course, divisive. So it's more important to prevent that than prevent "extremism".
Zamzam Ibrahim made the papers this weekend. From The Daily Mail:
A Muslim student union leader has claimed she would like to 'oppress white people' and has suggested there would be an Islamic takeover if more people read the Koran.
Zamzam Ibrahim, who was elected President of Salford University's Student Union in March, also suggested friendship between men and women is un-Islamic and is opposed to the government's anti-radicalisation strategy.
The Swedish-Somali student officer also described the government's Prevent strategy as 'disastrous' and 'racist'.
Miss Ibrahim is probably wondering what the fuss is all about. That's her pictured at top right as part of the "We have more in common" campaign - ie, underneath any superficial exterior differences, we're all the same. For example:
In one message she responded to a question on AskFM on what book everyone should read. She said: 'The Quaraan. We would have an Islamic takeover!'
Bonus points for getting three "a"s into the spelling of Koran, but with one deducted for leaving out the random apostrophe: Qu'araan? Quara'an? Q'uaraa'n? But you get her drift. If only we all read the Q'u'ara'a'n! We'd all be agitating to ditch this Common Law rubbish and institute Sharia by next Thursday. She could be wrong on that, but I don't think there's any doubt she believes it sincerely. And, incidentally, if we all read it, we'd understand why these boy/girl friendships are "unIslamic" and they wouldn't be a problem anymore:
In another message on the topic of the possibility of friendship between a man and a woman, she replied: 'I've had this debate with many friends! Maybe in some cases but Islamically it's incorrect for girls to be friends with a guy anyway!
'So I'm gonna say NO...'
As for oppressing white people, I think her defense would probably be that she meant it as a joke - although those believers mindful of the Ayatollah Khomeini's stern injunction that "there are no jokes in Islam" will deplore even a momentary lapse into infidel-style knee-slappers:
In one tweet from May 9, 2012 under the hashtag #ifIwasPresident, she wrote: 'I'd oppress white people just to give them a taste of what they put us through!'
What did white people ever put Zamzam Ibrahim through? I don't quite know what a "Swedish-Somali" is precisely, but neither Swedes nor Somalis are the responsibility of the British state. Nevertheless, Miss Ibrahim has been welcomed to Britain and prospered there, and presumably "white people" were among those who elevated her to the presidency of Salford's student union. She is one of the most influential young people in the country. If one were to hear that the BBC had given her a TV show or that Jeremy Corbyn had fast-tracked her for a safe Labour seat, one would roll one's eyes at the dreary predictability of it all.
After the Manchester bombing, I did a SteynPost saying that I found what one might call the cultural appropriation of grief - real grief, the grief of mothers and husbands and sisters - by the city at large utterly repulsive. But, taking at face value the touchy, solipsistic emails I got in response, the apparent justification is that there's a need to show how "united" we all are, that the more you bomb us the "more in common" we have. Except that, as Miss Ibrahim makes plain, we don't. For my own part, if it's a choice between body-bagged crones in the shopping streets or pierced midriff-baring skanks at the Ariana Grande knees-up, I'd prefer a dress code somewhere in between. But it's a common characteristic of bicultural societies that the middle ground is the first to collapse - which is the course much of the west is set on.
So in what sense is Manchester "united"? Zamzam Ibrahim's view of where she wants British society to wind up is no different in its essentials from the bomber's. They're both about the same age; the main difference is that Salman Abedi is in a zillion pieces being scraped off the pavement, and Zamzam Ibrahim will wind up in the House of Lords. And in a democratic age what matters is the disposition of the large number of people who stick around rather than the small number who self-detonate. If the issue is terrorism, Miss Ibrahaim is not a problem. If the issue is whether formerly cohesive societies can survive the mass importation of ever more people with a fundamentally different and incompatible vision of how that society should be run, she is in fact symptomatic of a much bigger problem than the occasional suicide-bomber or van-renter. As I put it the other day, after congratulating that Canadian sniper on his new world record for longest confirmed kill, what's the point of picking off an ISIS barbarian at 3,450 meters halfway round the globe if back on the home front you keep importing thousands upon thousands who share his world view? Or at any rate incline more to his than to yours, at least when it comes to legal systems, the segregation of the sexes, etc.
As Miss Ibrahim's ascent through the cloisters of Salford reminds us, bollards aren't much of an obstacle to any of that.
While we're on the subject, I still can't get over quite what a bust Justin Trudeau's Liberals made of Canada's sesquicentennial. But, if you've ever tried, you'll know it's hard to organize a milestone birthday party for someone you despise, and evidently that goes for countries, too. As Bono told the crowd, ""Whether you have just arrived from Syria or your roots go back thousands of years, this is your home" - which contrast conveniently omits all the people in between, who happen to be the fellows who built the country and quite like it, or at any rate more than the chaps with the ten-thousand-year roots over at that teepee who were raising clenched fists during the singing of "O Canada" and "God Save the Queen".
If Bono's toast was a sin of omission, Justin was more explicit, declaring that the more Canadian you are the less Canadian you are - at least when compared to a nice Syrian lad fleeing the Trump terror and asking where the Niagara Falls welfare office express check-in is. Sure, all those Gordies and Dereks may think they love their country but they don't love it as much as you Ahmeds and Omars do:
"No!" Trudeau continued. "You chose this country. This is your country more than it is for others because we take it for granted."
He means it. "I think being able to choose it, rather than being Canadian by default, is an amazing statement of attachment to Canada," says Justin. Just like Caitlyn Jenner is more of a woman than all you default women will ever be.
Mr Trudeau seems to be making a conscious effort to turn up the heat on the multiculti mush, to make the usual insipid "nation of immigrants" pabulum something harder and more pointed. It's a fine thing to be insulted by your head of government on your national holiday, but look at it from the other fellow's point of view: When prime ministers say that "choosing" a country makes you better than someone who just found himself in it by an accident of birth, why shouldn't the likes of Zamzam Ibrahim dream of "Islamic takeover"? After all, the bounds of public discourse as policed by Trudeau and Theresa May and Angela Merkel already make it all but impossible to state what if anything would be objectionable about an "Islamic takeover" of Canada or Britain or Europe. What counts are not the bollards Mrs May and Mr Turnbull are installing on bridges and streets, but the psychological bollards the likes of Trudeau and Merkel are erecting, constantly, to constrain vital conversations on public policy.
As for "default" Canadians, and default Englishmen and default Germans and default Swedes, the very purpose of the multicultural project is that there should be no default setting - and in that folly Zamzam Ibrahim and many others see great opportunity.