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My book The Strange Death of Europe continues to sell, and readers at book festivals and other venues continue to tell me how “timely” it is. This is not a pleasant thing to be told. Yet I continue to insist that none of this required any great foresight, just present-sight.

The atrocity in Barcelona turns out to be a case in point. A jihadist carried out mass murder using a truck. A larger cell of accomplices turned out to have been planning far greater atrocities. The identities of the suspects varied but centred around Morocco. Police searched for an imam believed to have been linked to the perpetrators, who also seemed to have known the 2004 Madrid bombers. After such atrocities it always turns out that the culprits or their cells are known to authorities who can only step in once the bodies are lying in the streets. And then the Chief Rabbi of Barcelona tells the country’s Jews that Europe is “lost” to the threat of radical Islam and that they should all prepare to leave for Israel. The story is always the same. The reaction never changes. And still no one in any position of power argues for a change in direction.

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It isn’t true that I have seen the best minds of my generation destroyed. But I’ve certainly seen plenty of them become hysterical. Everywhere there seems to be a sort of mania in the air — a resistance to restraint or perspective of any kind. In the US previously sane people are reduced to expletive-riddled rants against anyone they regard as an opponent. Crowds pull down statues of long-dead figures, spitting and stamping on them as though they lived in some third-world despotism rather than amid the most privileged inheritance in history.

In Britain some people have actually gone mad over the idea of the British government carrying out the will of the British people. People tell me endlessly of friendships ended and the intolerance of the self-professedly tolerant.

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The main cause cannot just be that the times are unpredictable (when were they not?), but rather that people now live under the misapprehension that the hysterical attitude is the correct one and the pitch at which we should all conduct our lives. Demonstrating a wild-eyed concern for whatever the latest developments on the world stage might be denotes a seriousness of purpose and character. The 24-hour news channels, Twitter and the rest of the media certainly have a role in this ferment. But it is distracting, even when not wrecking, a good portion of people it shouldn’t.

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Cameron Tremblay
September 5th, 2017
10:09 PM
Wow...thanks Mr Murray. An excellent article. I often find it easy to get caught up in being reactive. Sometimes, its like watching wrassling (as my grandfather called it). You can see one wrassler use brass knuckles then hide them in his shorts and all the while, you know the referee saw it, but ignores it!

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