Douglas Murray is a busy little bee. First, he found the time to defend the English Defence League in this video.
Then to show his commitment to Transatlantic Judeo-Christian brotherhood, Murray also penned this article for the Wall Street Journal and this one for the New York Daily News. On Wednesday, when he appeared on BBC Radio 4’s The Moral Maze, he was at his most shrill, paranoid and delusional. You can listen to him attacking Kenan Malik for his ‘extreme left wing views’ here,
Now if Murray had bothered to do his research before going into the studio, he would have known that the Revolutionary Communist Party has been dead for quite a few years. Murray doesn’t like views that conflict with his own distorted ideas on national identity and culture. Instead of responding to the points put to him, Murray chooses to play the man and not the ball. But “personal vendettas”? Please. Get real. On the subject of culture, he ends up sounding like a cheap version of Otto von Bismarck. Leitkultur? He’s more “Kulturkampf“, if you ask me.
Thursday night, he appeared on BBC 1’s Question Time. Dimblebum introduces him as “neoconservative”. Fine. Neocon. Plastic Cassandra. Whatever. But once again, he gets into a tangle when he talks about culture. He loves his strawman arguments too. What’s all this stuff about ‘forced marriages’? Has he never heard of the tradition of the shotgun wedding made famous by this song?
Murray’s understanding of the word “culture” appears to stem from his notions about national identity and, possibly, so-called ‘high culture’. But nation-states, as Benedict Anderson tells us, are imagined communities. That is to say they are conceived in the imagination and are imagined as a community by those who live within the borders of a nation-state. Anderson also says that “there have been no nationalist philosophers”. So what does that tell us about nationalism and those who wrap themselves up in flags? Nationalists, particularly extreme nationalists, have a fixed idea of both nation and national identity. Some people, in the eyes of these nationalists, do not fit in with the narrative that has been constructed around their idea of the nation. They may have a different religion or skin colour. They make speak a different language and have particular dietary habits that don’t chime with the self-constructed ‘majority’. They are marginalized, smeared and attacked in the streets by those calling themselves ‘patriots’. In short, nationalists are caught in a mental feedback loop, where they can only view the world in binaries. Good and evil. Black and white. Us and them.
Murray self-describes as a neoconservative but is he, at his very core, an extreme nationalist? Well, his idea of leitkultur tells me that he is. He may not like me describing him as an “extreme nationalist” and may even try to connect that phrase with words like “Nazi” or “fascist”. But extreme nationalism can exist outside Nazism or fascism. For example, Israel’s Likud Party could be described as an “extreme nationalist” party. It is a party that is dedicated to a particular strain of nationalism: Revisionist Zionism. Murray is a supporter of Revisionist Zionism. In fact, he works for the Israel-based NGO Monitor, which claims as its objective, to “make NGO’s accountable“. It has in mind certain NGO’s, in particular those NGO’s that provide relief for the Palestinians as well as the various human rights groups that are working in the region.
So who is going to pen the mawkish national hymns? Who will write the breast-beating jingoistic stories of derring-do, complete with rock-jawed heroes battling against the odds? Is Murray volunteering himself and his cohorts at The Centre for Social
Division Cohesion to do the work? Heaven help us all.