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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Petite Meller lands on Planet Gong!

If bands could musically beget children then those children would, like their flesh and blood counterparts in the real world, display not just some of the musical characteristics of their 
parents but probably some of their inherent eccentricities as well. In which case the YouTube-proclaimed ‘Aryan pedo nightmare’ that is the French phenomenon Petite Meller would be the 
love-child of the hippy-dippy band Gong circa 1970.

Meller is 22 with an MA in philosophy, a fabulously distinctive and accented gallic vocal sound, which, when coupled with her Lady Gaga style theatrics and personal raison d’être to turn ‘libidinal unconscious dreams’ into reality while flirting with terrorism, race and Lolitaesque sex, make her hard to ignore. 

This anarchic approach to life, which The Guardian newspaper dismissed as pop with a ‘creepy aesthetic’, comes alive in Meller’s videos, where, usually scantily clad, cheeks rouged in pink blusher
and brandishing a variety of inappropriate props, she cavorts and her dances her way through a series of improbable landscapes that have included; a Kenyan village where she danced with the local school children and kissed a giraffe for Baby Love, New York City for Backpack, a geriatric rest home in Florida for Barbaric, and, most recently, she played with reindeers and the local tribesmen in the grassy plains of Mongolia for her single, The Flute. The Flute also sees Meller wearing a grass skirt and a pointy hat that, has, metaphorically at least, Gong written all over it.

While this global dancing has upset some who see it as ‘cultural appropriation’ and worry that Meller’s white flesh denotes a hidden racism when displayed next to her black co-dancers in videos like Baby Love, Meller undoubtably has a unique visual style that is rapidly becoming her own signature look and the only hidden message it really displays is a true celebration of being alive.

Now, having spent the last twelve or so releasing one infectiously dancey pop single after another, Meller has released Lil Empire, an equally quirky and contagious album. Almost every track is filled with a delirious pop sound; Milk Bath (cute and bonkers), America (like Baby Love, only more so), Argentina (softer, with the merest hint of Madonna’s La Isla Bonita), Geez (fab, play it to death), as well as all of her previously released singles. This is an album brimming with joie de vivre and a fabulous, almost gospelish pop sound that demands to be played loudly, again and again. Pointy hats optional. 

@ Nigel Wingrove 2016

The Flute -
Baby Love -
Barbaric -

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Life, Love and Keeling Over

Hiromi Kawakami’s first English language book was called Strange Weather in Tokyo and published in 2014, (in Japan it was titled The Teacher’s Briefcase) and was a gentle, touching, almost surreal and dreamlike story of a thirty something woman slowly falling in love with an unassuming retired school teacher in his seventies who she sees in a café where she eats regularly. The Nakano Thrift Shop treads a similar path. only more so.

In The Nakano Thrift Shop, Hiromi’s narrator is again a young woman, this time one who kind of, hesitantly, tentatively, possibly, falls in love with the twenty something Takeo, her co-worker at Mr Nakano’s thrift shop. Called Hitomi, our heroine and narrator, drifts, not so much through life but rather life drifts through her, as Kawakami’s small cast of characters; Mr Nakano, the roguish womanising thrift shop owner, Masayo, his artistic, doll-making, older sister, Sakiko, Mr Nakano’s sensual and beautiful lover, and the awkwardly shy Takeo, all gently impinge on Hitomi’s consciousness.

Kawakami has an extraordinarily way of drawing you into her etherial world, where, although nothing really happens, when they do, little transgressions or events cause ripples that spread seamlessly throughout the whole book and stay with you long after the story has finished. In Strange Weather in Tokyo it was the descriptions of food and the cherry blossom that heralds the arrival of spring that permeated, whereas in The Nakano Thrift Shop it is the inconsequential bric-a-brac and the minutiae of life that you eventually cherish. Until, as Mr Nakano’s sister says, we keel over;

Masayo wrapped up by saying, ’That’s why, when I haven’t heard from someone 
for a while, the first thing that occurs to me is that they might have just keeled over.’

Keeled over. I repeated Masayo’s phrase, in the same tone she had used.

‘You know?’ Masayo suppressed a chuckle as she peered into my face.

I-I don’t think he’s dead, I replied, shrinking into my seat.

Beautifully written and faultlessly translated by Allison Markin Powell, both Strange Weather in Tokyo and The Nakano Thrift Shop are a poignant, funny and effortless reminder of the pleasures to be found even in the banalities of modern life. 

The covers to both books are by the Japanese photographer Natsumi Hayashi who specialises in taking slightly spooky and etherial pictures of Japanese girls levitating and floating and whose imagery seems the perfect visualisation of Hiromi Kawakami’s novels. See more of her work here:

© Nigel Wingrove 2016

The Nakano Thrift Shop
Hiromi Kawakami

260 pages, Paperback
Portobello Books

Strange Weather in Toyko
Hiromi Kawakami

176 pages, Paperback
Portobello Books

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Tears in the Day, Screams in the Night

Chris Petit’s The Butchers of Berlin, is a brutal and disquieting take on a city and a people inured by years of terror, violence and vicious anti-semitism, who find survival in indifference, and sustenance in betrayal. 

Set in the death throes of the Third Reich during 1943, in an increasingly dangerous, demoralised
and bombed-out Berlin. Here, food and basic necessities are in short supply and the cities infrastructure is run less and less by German men and more and more by slave labour brought in from conquered nations. Slaves who would like nothing more than to hurt their German hosts and who provide a potential mass of suspects to the grisly murders at the books core. 

Centred on a detective and an SS judge assigned to investigate a series of extreme murders; the bodies had been frayed, butchered, and their skulls smashed to a pulp, the Butchers of Berlin, soon expands its remit to take in the regime’s round-ups and deportations of Berlin’s remaining Jews and the desperate attempts by some to evade capture and stay hidden from the authorities. Alongside the skinless bodies and vanished Jews, a German warden is also murdered, a police informer is found castrated, there is corruption in the Gestapo, and a counterfeiting racket is threatening chaos. 

It is though the inclusion of two young Jewish women, Sybil and Lore, in the story that truly evokes our sympathy after they find themselves at the mercy of the Gestapo and its local commander, the sadistic Gersten, who is happy to use torture and threats to cajole them into becoming ‘catchers’; Jews who seek out and betray other Jews that have become ‘U-boats’, that is Jews hiding as non-Jews. In particular, Petit brings in the real-life ‘catcher', the beautiful blonde Stella Kübler as a character. In reality Kübler's striking good looks and vivacious nature helped her ensnare and betray some 3000 of her fellow Jews to the Gestapo, who in turn nicknamed her ‘Blonde Poison’. 

It is in this mashing of real characters like Kübler, along with Goebbels, Himmler, and the agricultural minister and man behind the Blood and Soil (Blut und Boden) movement, Walter Darré, who all feature walk-on parts, with actual events and evocative depictions of wartime Berlin that jar with the books over-the-top emphasis on gross-out descriptions of butchery and slaughter. These forays into Grand Guignol territory tend to move the book away from a world war two crime thriller into straight horror territory. A pairing that weakens and detracts from the books strengths.

Chris Petit is unusual in that he combines writing with directing, particularly TV movies and short documentaries, and the first two thirds of The Butchers of Berlin reads like a well-paced thriller script, its short, punchy chapters making for concise scenes that in turn make for an exciting, gripping, story. Real, edge-of-your-seat stuff, or in this case, a page-turner. Then, a bit like a film that runs out steam, Petit spends the final third part of the story laboriously tying up all the strands while totally over-egging the blood and gore to an almost cartoonish level in the buildup to the books, or perhaps that should be, films, climatic ending. 

Petit is perhaps best known for the Northern Ireland based thriller, The Psalm Killer (1997), which, like The Butchers of Berlin, had at its core almost bestial descriptions of violence, though involving a biblically inspired killer operating during the Troubles rather than crazed Nazis. Yet the violence of 
the The Psalm Killer seemed, despite its graphic nature, to fit within the context of the story, yet in the Butchers of Berlin, where in reality the most appalling slaughter the world has ever seen was being carried out in the background, Petit’s horror seems not just crass but disrespectful of the real events and that is a shame because with a little, less is more, this could have been a great thriller instead of one that ran out of oomph!

© Nigel Wingrove 2016

The Butchers of Berlin
Chris Petit

496 pages,
Published by Simon & Schuster, UK 2016

Monday, August 29, 2016

They are your children...

These children that come at you with knives, they are your children - Charles Manson

In 2019 it will be, amazingly, fifty years since Charles Manson’s band of hippy-dippy losers set about viciously murdering white residents living the American dream in the Californian sunshine, including the actress Sharon Tate who was eight-and-a-half-months pregnant at the time she was killed, in order, they hoped, to spark a race war. 

Yet all these years later the horror of these murders still resonates and has recently been the inspiration for a number of Manson inspired projects including the TV series Aquarius and, most successfully, the novel, The Girls by Emma Cline. It is now the source for another book, American
Girls, by Alison Umminger.

Both debut novels, The Girls and American Girls (titled My Favourite Manson Girl in the UK) are by young female writers and both eschew Manson in favour of the teenage girls that hung around him like wide-eyed groupies and who would, ultimately, act as his surrogate assassins dispensing death as brutally as any man. 

In The Girls, Manson’s female followers were a kind of cipher for Evie the books young
anti-heroine whereas in American Girls, Anna, the books fifteen year-old narrator, is every
teenage girl and, as such, every American girl is a potential Manson girl.

Less haunting and etherial than The Girls, Umminger’s novel centres on the trials and tribulations
of Anna who steals money off her mother’s girlfriends’ credit card in order to fly from her home
in Atlanta to Los Angeles so that she can stay with Delia, her glamorous, struggling actress older sister. From here Anna progresses through the usual teenage angst and love hate relationships with her mother, always a text or email away, and her sister whose complicated love-life with aspiring filmmaker boyfriends and low budget horror producers provide an entertaining and, at times, very funny backdrop to the Manson theme that pervades the book.

Umminger also manages in a few words to clarify the awfulness of what ‘the girls’ actually did all those years ago, as when Anna is unknowingly confronted with the graves of Sharon Tate and her unborn son, Paul Richard Polanski.

The gravestone marked four bodies. The top read “In Loving Memory” and the left side continued with “Our loving daughter and beloved wife of Roman, Sharon Tate Polanski”. The dates she lived were separated by the thin slivers of a cross, 1943 - 1969. Beside that were the dates for her mother and, at the bottom, her sister. But as haunting as it was, the name that knocked me down was just below Sharon’s, “Paul Richard Polanski”, followed by “their baby,” and no dates beneath the name. No dates below this tiny person who both was and wasn’t, but who had a name.

On Sharon Tate after watching her in Valley of the Dolls she brutally and effectively says:

She went from being a body on the screen to a body in a bag

And on Manson girl Susan Atkins who years later claimed that she didn't kill Sharon Tate, or anyone else, that she had, in fact, just pretended to have killed them so that she could be the centre of attention. So that she would fit in with the rest of the girls...

If you crossed 'Mean Girls' with the 'Lord of the Flies' and weaponised all of them, then you pretty much had the Manson girls. 

Umminger, like Cline, has, by making the Manson girls so everyday, managed to make them both more accessible and more monstrous, so that ultimately they really are potentially just, not so much American girls, as any girl.

American Girls 
Alison Umminger

304 pages

US edition - Flatiron Books $17.99
UK edition, as My Favourite Manson Girl - Atom Books - £12.99

© Nigel Wingrove 2016

Monday, July 25, 2016


Without any planning and totally coincidentally I seemed to have beeen immersed in feminine, or rather female culture, both written and visually, over the last two days, with both genres, a book and a film, offering extraordinary portrayals of women.  The Girls is a new novel by the American writer Emma Cline and uses the Charles Manson murders as inspiration, whereas Carola film by Todd Haynes, is the story of a lesbian love affair. Yet despite their differences they are bizarrely similar. Both centre on the attraction of a young girl for an older, stronger woman, and both stories are played-out in dream-like, past worlds that are both haunting and strangely enchanting, and which, when they conclude, leave you needing time to emerge back into this world…

The Girls

A debut novel by Emma Cline that is both compelling and repelling at the same time. The Girls is inspired by, but not about, the Manson girls, the women that were a part of Charles Manson’s family and who would brutally kill a number of people, including the actress Sharon Tate, on Manson’s orders. Set now and during the summer of 1969 when the Manson murders took place, Cline has created a dream-like parallel world in which the central character, the fourteen year-old Evelyn, or Evie as the ‘girls’ call her, becomes fascinated by Suzanne, a feral but beautiful girl who she sees one day walking in her local park with two other girls. Cline describes their arrival:

There was a suggestion of otherworldliness hovering around her, a dirty smock dress barely covering her ass. she was flanked by a skinny redhead and an older girl, dressed with the same shabby afterthought. As if dredged from a lake. All their cheap rings like a second set of  knuckles. They were messing with an uneasy threshold, prettiness and ugliness at the same time, and a ripple of awareness followed them through the park. Mothers glancing around for their children, moved by some feeling they couldn’t name. Women reaching for their boyfriends’ hands. The sun spiked through the trees, like always - the drowsy willows, the hot wind gusting over the picnic blankets - but the familiarity of the day was disturbed by the path the girls cut across the regular world. Sleek and thoughtless as sharks breaching the water.

Cline writes beautifully and cleverly, managing in a few choice words to convey the alienation of adolescence and the threat of the outsider and wraps all of this into an etherial and languid sense of menace that builds up around Evie as she becomes part of the ‘family’. In many ways Cline’s 
decision to create her own take on the Manson cult, hers centres on a man named Russell, and to focus on the girls, and in particular Evie’s infatuation with Suzanne, brings a powerful and refreshingly raw feeling to the whole Manson mythology. Equally, by eschewing the actual
Manson story and creating her own, borrowing elements of real events and mixing these with her ‘girls’,  Cline has been able to bring a real sense of California’s dreamy callousness to the shocking murders that follow, and Cline’s succinct and brutal descriptions of killing are as disturbing as any I have read.

Yet, despite the murders, or perhaps because of them, The Girls, is essentially about teenage girls, their clothes, their smell, their struggles to please an older, charismatic man, their desperate faith in his vision of the world, their fragility and vulnerableness to sexual exploitation and to the mores and ideas of the time. Unnervingly so given that Cline, a Californian girl herself, is only 27 and yet The Girls is perfectly of the sixties and reminds us that beneath all the talk of peace and love real horror was waiting.

I only got out of bed after I heard the girl. Her voice was high and innocuous. Though it shouldn’t have been comforting - Suzanne and the others had been girls, and that hadn’t helped anybody.

The Girls by Emma Cline is published by Chatto & Windus (£12.99, $27.00)


Carol, director Todd Haynes’ visually beautiful interpretation of Patricia Highsmith’s 1952 novel of a lesbian love, The Price of Salt (also known as Carol) is, like a passionate kiss, breathtakingly good and will leave you shivering with lingering emotion long after the end credits have finished. Set in the early 1950s and centred in and around New York, the Carol of the title is a wealthy, glamorous woman (Cate Blanchett), who is in the midst of getting a divorce, from her neglectful husband (Kyle Chandler - Friday Night Lights, Homeland) and befriends, then falls in love with, a shopgirl and aspiring photographer called Therese (Rooney Mara - The Social Network, Pan, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). 

Carol is powerful but not predatory, glamorous but not glam, and beneath her monied confidence, vulnerable and frightened. Frightened of losing her only child in an increasingly fractious custody battle with her husband who both knows of her lesbianism and, reluctantly, is prepared to use it against her in court if necessary. Against this backdrop she is also falling deeply in love with the much younger Therese, whose rawness and innocence, at first amusing, then captivating, has unleashed an all consuming and highly believable love in both women for each other, a love that will either playout or crush them in its embrace.

Touted and praised as a gay film about two women having a relationship at a time when lesbianism was barely mentioned, let alone understood or tolerated, Carol doesn’t flaunt or bang the gay rights drum, rather it is what it is, a love story between two women who suffer trials and tribulations as they struggle, not so much for acceptance, but to make their relationship work in the same way a straight couple would and it is all the stronger for that. Mara in particular, looking like the reincarnation of Audrey Hepburn, though with a rawer sexuality, has an extraordinary presence and natural beauty that is mesmerising and which Haynes manages to exploit in a myriad of tiny ways that, coupled with Carter Burwell’s hypnotic score, make watching Carol, like watching a half remembered memory of someone you too loved but who was always, tantalisingly, just out of reach. 

Simply fabulous.

On AMAZON PRIME and DVD / Blu-ray (Studio Canal)

Saturday, June 18, 2016


Jo Cox MP, whose brutal murder on the 16th June by a 52 year man with mental health problems and alleged sympathies with the US based neo-Nazi Nationalist Alliance organisation, and, Britain First, a UK based nationalist party, had hardly been dead more than a few hours before a number of self-serving, left-leaning, ‘Remain’ campaigners leapt onto the now blood-soaked Cox bandwagon in order to make political capital from her utterly pointless murder.

First was the London Labour MP for Bermondsey and Southwark, Neil Coyle, who when interviewed just a few hours after Cox’s killing sought to link it directly to Brexit and the Leave campaign, saying that they had published “dangerous material” which risked inspiring the “extremist elements on the hard right in this country”.  Hard Right being the latest terminology of the left, as opposed to Far Right, or Extreme Right, which apparently nolonger convey the correct amount of ‘rightness’. So ‘Hard Right’ it is.

Coyle’s comments were predictably followed the next day by the hysterical ravings of The Guardian journalist Polly Toynbee who saw in Cox’s murder a causal link between the ‘open and shocking’ statements of the Leave campaign whose ‘inflammatory language’, ‘finger-jabbing’ ‘dog-whistling’ and ‘overt racism’ she claimed was a ’noxious brew’ and ‘dangerous’ mix of ‘anti-MP’ and ‘anti-politics’ which led inextricably to Jo Cox’s murder. Toynbee then damned, among other things, Leave’s new ‘Breaking Point’ poster, which showed, in a style reminiscent of the Thatcher era Conservative Party election poster, ‘Labour’s Not Working’, a never ending queue of refugees waiting to enter Europe.

Using the poster as a springboard Toynbee went on to link the Leave campaign indirectly with, not just Cox’s murder, but the rise of Nazi Germany, Adolf Hitler, the White Power movement, Neo-Nazism, and Oswald Mosley and called for Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Chris Grayling to be expelled from the Conservative Party for making immigration a voting issue in the Brexit campaign. 

The Guardian then claimed in its editorial that Jo Cox’s death was an affront to the ideals of diversity and multiculturalism, both causes that I am sure Jo Cox supported, and which therefore is not an unreasonable 
assertion, but then The Guardian extrapolated that the ‘Hard Right’s’ racism and Islamophobia was the mirror image of the ideology Isis and Al Qaida use to attract recruits. From that it was just a hop, skip, and a jump to imply a direct link between Cox’s murder and Leave’s campaign. Nigel Farage’s “Breaking Point” poster was  especially singled out for attack and called repugnant, while Leave’s campaign was ’nasty’, ’divisive’
and encouraged UK voters to turn their backs on the world and to embrace ‘barbarism’.

Yet in using Jo Cox’s murder to smear and undermine the Leave campaign and at the same time shunning much of ‘parochial’ Britain as William Haig sneeringly referred to those supporting Leave, the Remain campaigners and the Left should look in the mirror, for that is where the viciousness and thuggery began. When hundreds gathered to mock and celebrate Margaret Thatcher’s death, or when a mob of thugs attacked Nigel Farage and his family in Scotland, or when Conservative’s were spat at, punched and called scum while trying to attend their party conference in 2015, or when members of antifacist groups openly talk of wanting to kill their opponents, and so on ad infinitum politicians reap what they sow.

Toynbee wrote that the use of immigration in this campaign was unleashing ‘dark and hateful’ forces, yet it was the Labour party that unleashed immigration on an unprecedented scale with hundreds of thousands of people arriving in the UK during Labour’s time in office that destroyed communities, jobs and caused a housing crisis. It was a Labour Home Secretary, David Blanket, who said in 2003 that there was “no upper limit” to the number of people that could settle in the UK. It was a Labour Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, who, in 2010, dismissed a concerned woman’s questions on rising immigration, as ‘bigoted’ and it is Labour that has consistently attacked and silenced any form or discussion on immigration and migration as ‘racist’. 

So yes people are angry, and yes people are fed up with politicians, and yes, there are ‘dark and hateful’ forces at work, but they have been caused not by the ‘Hard Right’, or Leave’s ‘Breaking Point’ poster, but by the Left, by mainstream politician’s, and by the EU’s unelected officials telling us what to do. What Polly Toynbee, David Cameron, George Osborne, The Guardian and the rest of the political and chattering classes who try to shame us into obsequious silence by their taunts of racism and nationalistic parochialism forget, is that it is they who have taken away the people’s voice and our now causing some people’s anger to turn into rage. 

The utterly pointless, brutal and stupid murder of Jo Cox may have been a symptom of those ‘hateful’ forces, or equally it could just be the actions of a pitiful man with mental health problems. Yet whatever motivated the killer, it was nothing to do with the Leave campaign and if the Establishment try to make it otherwise in order to shut the people up then those dark hateful forces really will find a voice and they will make the Establishment listen whether they want to or not.

Nigel Wingrove © 2016

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will be, Will Be)

There was something frighteningly inevitable about the latest mass killing by a fanatical Muslim of a large group of unarmed Western citizens, in this latest instance some 49 gay men and women at The Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. First there will be shock, though less so now that we, by which I mean the West, have become  inured to this kind of atrocity, then secondly the outpourings of grief, some real, some false and affected, necessitated more by our need to show our Facebook and Instagram followers that we care, than real, emotional pain. 

Then, inevitably, will come the Orlando hashtag and the clever graphic memes, in this instance the first appeared within a few hours of the assault almost as if the shooter had kindly uploaded it to Twitter along with his ‘I Love ISIS’ video before he started spraying bullets into the infidels. For those of you who haven’t yet seen it, today’s meme du jour  is a gay ‘ribbon’, coloured half gay rainbow, and half the US Stars and Stripes, which, like the Paris Eiffel Tower and Charlie Hebdo pencil, will do nothing beyond allowing a few people to share some chic grief-graphics, and be forgotten almost before the victim’s blood has dried. Thirdly, and finally, will come the apologists with their “This has nothing to do with Islam’ mantra…

President Obama and the worldwide liberal media will unite and then tie itself in knots as it tries to avoid the armed elephant in the room, bigger now and covered in blood, as it blames American gun laws, Homophobic bigotry, the Christian right, Donald Trump, a lone wolf, almost anything rather than the Muslim religion. Indeed the killer’s parents, Afghan Muslims, immigrants welcomed into the US a few years ago, including the killer’s Taliban supporting father, have already said that this is nothing to do with religion and that their son was just upset at having seen two men kissing recently. Anyway, the father later insisted, God will punish homosexuals. 

So that’s alright then, Islam and our liberal democracies have a ‘get out of jail’ card and the wonderful state imposed multicultural migrations that are slowly transforming our culture and the indigenous cities of America and Europe into Islamic favelas can carry on regardless. Another day, another mass killing. Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will be, Will Be) as Doris Day might have sung had she been asked to perform at The Pulse when its audience was still alive.

There is though a difference to this mass killing in that the victims were not predominantly white heterosexuals as in France’s Bataclan shootings. Rather they were mixed racially and all members of the LGBT community, a sexual grouping sacred to our new Establishment and an abomination to most Muslims, ensuring that there will probably be plenty of dry-eyes and an absence of rainbow flags at your local mosque. This has produced the extraordinary spectacle of the West’s left-leaning media and politician’s bypassing their usual ‘nothing to do with Islam’ mantra and going straight on to the attack against Islam’s critics and anyone who doesn’t adhere to their new mantra that Orlando ’is all about homophobia and LGBT hatred and not about Islam’. An argument typified by the sixteen year old Guardian journalist Owen Jones who had a hissy fit on Sky News and flounced off in a huff when his interviewer wouldn’t accept Owen’s argument that this attack was different because it was on gay people. It isn’t. It is part of a never ending attack on the West’s values, regardless of sexual orientation, race or religion and the fact that the Orlando killer had also considered Disneyland as a potential target means that the world could just as easily have been mourning the deaths of 50 children this week.

The Islamic State’s followers may throw gay men off buildings but the rest of the Muslim world, if not exactly cheering from the street, won’t be stopping them either.  Mainstream Islam will never condone Gay rights, any more than it will see equality between men and women as a desirable aim and arguing and nitpicking over who ‘owns’ this latest massacre is an insult to the dead and a dangerous distraction for the living. The Islamist’s have at least found equality in hatred even if we haven’t found it in grief.

© Nigel Wingrove 2016

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Je Suis......Memed Out

About sixty minutes was all it took for 129 mainly young people to die and for another 352 to be wounded, their bodies raked by bullets and shrapnel, as Islamic fanatics, their hearts black with hate for the infidel and his depraved Western civilisation, fired off round after round from their ubiquitous AK47s and casually tossed grenades into the piles of wounded afterwards just in case some were still alive. This latest attack, Paris’s second in a year and one of the worst terrorist atrocities committed in modern Europe, was an Islamic declaration of war, and one that the West must respond to. The Clash of Civilisations, so long predicted and so long avoided, is finally upon us and to win this war the West will have to become what it has so long feared to be, a people whose belief in their culture, faith and values is as strong as our enemies is in their religion. Strong enough in fact to wipe ISIS and radical Islam off the face of the earth or at least drive it out of Europe. Anything less and Europe at least will be lost to Islamic barbarism for centuries.

For years those who have decried Islam and warned of its slow encroachment and insidious usurping of our culture have been dismissed as racists, Islamophobes and fascists while Islamic appeasers, multicultural zealots and politically correct apologists have paved the way for the West’s pending subjugation. Indeed ever since the Iranian revolution in 1979 when the Shah, a Western backed puppet, was left dangling while the West effectively betrayed him and his westernised country, abet a corrupt and shabby interpretation of one, and left Iran to its fate while the Ayatollah’s  revolutionary guards did their stuff, we have misjudged and misunderstood the Islamic world and the Middle East in particular. No more so than in our ludicrous embracing and encouraging of the Arab Spring, which led, body-part by bloody body-part, to the Friday 13th massacres in Paris.

Rarely has the West’s liberal intelligentsia shown itself to be more self serving than over the Arab Spring, where, from its first stirrings in Tunisia which saw President Zine El Abiding Ben Ali pack his bags and flee to Saudi Arabia, Western governments have dumped old and loyal allies and thrown in their lot with the new kids on the chopping block. Seemingly with little or no understanding of who the trendy ‘rebels’ are or what a new government created by these romanticized ’freedom fighters’ would  look like? Or indeed what kind of society would emerge by overthrowing the existing regime? 

To the dreamers that make up much of the West’s liberal Establishment or among the Young Turks that swan around Washington’s Capital Hill clutching their iPhones and whooping at every Arab Spring posting on Twitter; Tunisia would become a democratic wonderland full of Starbuck cafés where the bright young things of the day could discuss new ideas like LGBT rights, Safe Place Apps and Global Warming. This was just too wonderful! And it was….

After Tunisia came Egypt’s moment and following a big ballyhoo in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, lots of shouting, a police charge on Camel back, Egypt’s 30-year rule by President Hosni Mubarak, ended. Mubarak, who had supported the Allies in the first Iraq war and committed Egyptian troops in the 
campaign to liberate Kuwait, who had risked assassination several times by his opposition to radical
Islamist movements, and made treaties with Israel. Who had, in fact, proved himself a reliable ally to the West on many, many occasions and a stabilising factor in a region known for its volatility was 
effectively sacrificed on the alter of Western liberal ideology and hypocrisy. 

For while Mubarak’s regime was plagued with corruption and allegations of brutality against his opponents this had not prevented the West from maintaining good relations with Mubarak, who was generally viewed favourably by Western governments up until the Arab Spring. So it was vaguely revolting to see Prime Minister Cameron on the first flight out to greet the military rulers who were keeping the lid on things following the ousting of Mubarak. Britain he said was a true friend to Egypt, though he should perhaps have prefaced that with fair-weather. Cameron also said that “there really must be a move to civilian and democratic rule as part of this important transition to an open, democratic and free Egypt." Hurrah! 

Not to be left out, a more cautious Hillary Clinton visited Egypt two months later, saying that the 
US was committed to seeing true democracy in Egypt led by a government that reflected the true
diversity of Egypt’s peoples. It was a pity then that that the Egyptian people voted in the Islamist Egyptian Brotherhood party and that within a year the newly elected President Morsi would be deposed and arrested by Army chiefs along with thousands of his supporters, hundreds of whom would be executed. 

This great democratic experiment in one of the most important countries in the Middle East has seen a relatively stable and prosperous Arab country reduced to being run by a military dictatorship, while an ISIS backed insurgency grows in the Sinai region. Its tourist industry is ruined and the country is increasingly riven by strife and the threat of violence and, surprisingly, Prime Minister David Cameron, Egypt’s great ‘friend’ is nowhere to be found. 

After the toppling of President Mubarak, the West’s crusader liberal evangelists were on a roll and 
encouraged uprisings everywhere, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya and Syria were now in their sights. Even
Saudi Arabia was talked about in hushed whispers, if Libya could fall …. then why not the House of Saud, the Mordor of dictatorships gasped the Young Turks.

By now though street protests and catchy hashtags on Twitter had given way to bullets and baton rounds. Yet still the West encouraged dissent, and when it came to Libya we wanted to join in.  
France, England and the US committed jets and led a bombing campaign against government buildings and the forces of Colonel Gaddafi with the result that, a few months later, a terrified Gaddafi was shown being roughed up and shot by a mob of jeering rebel soldiers. Hurrah!

Again, seemingly drunk on the heady mix of revolution and victory, Prime Minister Cameron, along 
with France’s Nicolas Sarkozy flew straight out to Tripoli to big it up with Libya’s gun-totting rebels.
Here, surrounded by armed men and the world’s press, Cameron spewed forth, what, even
then seemed like absolute drivel, and now, with the benefit of hindsight, was madness:

“The Arab Spring is a massive opportunity to spread peace, prosperity, democracy
and vitally security, but only if we really seize it”

The Libya rebels of course seized the opportunity with both hands, murdering opponents, grabbing and selling weapons, fighting amongst themselves, murdering the US’s ambassador, Chris Stevens,
in Benghazi, and generally creating a lawless and ungovernable Hell-hole on the edge of Europe. A Libyan Hell-hole that ISIS started moving into about three years ago and of which they now control a sizeable and growing section around the coastal city of Sirte, which no doubt David Cameron will be visiting soon to explain the marvels of democracy to those citizens that still have heads. 

It was in Syria though that the West’s addiction to spreading democracy amongst Muslim peoples
with no tradition of democracy reached its nemesis. Here President Assad, who has presided over Syria for some 15 years and where, in the historic city of Damascus in an area once known as the Cradle of Civilisation, he allowed all faiths, Christian, Jew, Muslim to worship, and where alcohol was permitted and where, for most, life was pretty tolerable. However Assad is a dictator; Syrian elections allow for no opposition and his regime, like Saddam Hussein’s in Iraq, is Ba’athist, in that it follows an Arab nationalist ideology and allows for no criticism. It can also be brutal in its suppression of opponents but as in Iraq, for the majority of its citizens life was stable, and for many good. 

In fact Syria and Assad, again like Iraq and its former ruler Saddam Hussein, posed no threat to the West, yet buoyed up on Arab Spring mania the West stirred up opposition groups to Assad and egged on the protestors who rapidly went from throwing stones to firing guns and the regime did the same. The West’s liberal pack had now created what they wanted, a civil war against a ’fascist’ style dictator, this was Spain 1936 all over again, with Assad in the role of Franco and updated for the 21st century. 

With Syria, Britain’s Prime Minister Cameron wrapped in the flag of democratic self-righteousness, was on the attack straight away saying to the United Nations in 2012; “Those who look at Syria today and blame the Arab Spring have got it the wrong way around. You cannot blame the people for the behaviour of a brutal dictator. The responsibility lies with the dictator”

A year later Cameron would go on to propose, as with Libya, bombing Syria to help the ‘rebels’ remove Assad. However, unlike with Libya, by 2013 even the most fanatical supporters of the Arab Spring could see that their Spring was turning rapidly to Winter. Further, the Syrian rebels, who the West were arming indiscriminately, were committing atrocities against Christians, destroying villages and butchering captured Assad soldiers. So much so that Russia’s President Putin described the rebels as animals and for the first time the West had doubts over who these ‘rebels;’ were.

Then one of the more shadowy rebel groups fighting in Syria called the al-Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda affiliate, merged with another, even shadowier group, led by a Wahhabi/Salafi jihadist extremist called Abu Bakr ak-Baghdadi. This merger initially went relatively unnoticed in Western circles, which is a pity as the new rebel groups name was: Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL… Now generally known as ISIS this shadowy group is now on a major tour, shooting up cities in Europe and downing airliners. Its followers wear chic black clothes, are wizard on social media, and are known to take a dim view of gay men, women, Christians and non-believers generally, often removing their heads. 

Yet the West, despite helping to create ISIS, destabilising large parts of the Middle East and as a result causing the worst refugee crisis since World War 2 the West continues to avoid tackling the 
growing elephant in the room, Islam, preferring instead to skirt around the issue by hiding in safe places on social media and creating inane visual memes and soft, comforting phrases. As if by giving each other linguistic hugs ISIS will go away. 

Thus within minutes of the Paris attacks beginning, the victims of the attack were busy creating Paris hashtags, illuminating buildings in the colours of France’s flag, denouncing any criticisms of Muslims as racist, and designing a Paris victims peace sign with the Eiffel Tower as its centre. People loved it and the attack’s victims, that is, us, ensured that it went viral. As if by pouring our grief into creativity we could  defeat or pacify our enemies. 

We cannot. Radical Islam hates the West, it hates our culture, our weaknesses and our beliefs. It has no love of art, poetry, literature or music. It hates it. It loathes our heritage and will destroy our libraries, our art galleries, our museums and the places where we entertain each other. It will burn and eradicate all that is not Islam and kill or enslave all those who will not convert or bow to the sword of Islam and it will stamp on your hashtags and pretty logos. That is what is coming. That is what a Clash of Civilisations means.

We created this mess by our meddling, by our ludicrous support of the Arab Spring and by our arrogance and we have to make it right or ISIS, or its successors, will destroy us and all that we love unless we are prepared to fight to save it. To preserve what our ancestors created. If not, then we deserve what’s coming and no amount of hashtags and clever graphics will save us then.

©Nigel Wingrove 2016