Jonathan Pie on the causes of and reactions to the Manchester bombing

The schtick of Jonathan Pie (real name Tom Walker) is to act as if he’s a news reporter doing a story, and then suddenly to lurch into a passionate and angry rant about one thing or another. As time passes, though, the rants seem to be getting a little less funny, but more than compensate for that with an increase in passion and “truthiness.” Here Pie discusses the Manchester bombing and terrorism, and I was pleased to see he agrees with me that the British reaction of “carrying on as normal”, as a way to show that the terrorists haven’t won, is a dumb response. He also argues that the response of “we win through love” (the PuffHo response) is equally fatuous.

And at 1:54 he says, “Isn’t it time to stop pretending that this has nothing to do with religion?” He’s right.

It’s not a funny piece, but it’s a truthful one.

h/t: pghwelshgirl


  1. Posted May 29, 2017 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    There was an ad hoc memorial to the Manchester bombing victims near my office. Someone had written ‘Forgive’ under it. Fortunately someone else scrubbed that out.

    The answer to Islamist violence isn’t more Christian ‘turn the other cheek’ shit.

    The definition of insanity is repeating the same action in the belief that it will have a different outcome. Just ‘carrying on’ hasn’t got us anywhere and it’s time to face the fact it never will.

    • Craw
      Posted May 29, 2017 at 10:38 am | Permalink

      What they really mean is ‘accept’. In other words, submit.

      • Posted May 29, 2017 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

        Islam : from Arabic ‘islām ‘submission,’ from ‘aslama ‘submit (to God).’


    • Diane G.
      Posted May 30, 2017 at 3:30 am | Permalink

      Though there’s some truth that a terroristic motive is to garner as much attention and spread as much fear as possible, and seeming to ignore them is the worst thing you can do to them…

    • somer
      Posted May 30, 2017 at 11:02 am | Permalink

      And Andy Burnham, mayor of Manchester bizarrely took the opportunity to especially press concern about the supposed alienation of muslims by the supposed discrimination of the “Prevent” radicalisation prevention scheme – a scheme that is first and foremost about education and just as much about preventing white xenophobic radicals as muslim radicals but the conservatives including muslim council of britain can’t stand it because they can’t stand the thought of any change
      No wonder people are sick of the labour party – they need to reform themselves and stop being beholden to the get-the-minority-vote-out power of hipsters, biryani networks and clerics – if Britain is not to be stuck with the Tories.

  2. Randy schenck
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    I would agree and add to a similar nauseating platitude you hear too much on this day – Thanks for your service. I have never been much of a flag waver anyway. It seems those who really get out there and wave with aggression are just trying a little too hard to make up for something…I don’t know what.

  3. Posted May 29, 2017 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    “Where did he get that idea from? That’s what I want to know. … Isn’t it time to stop pretending this has nothing to do with religion? … ”

    So far so good.

    “based on a twisted version of a religious ideology”


    1 – Islam, good to go, straight from Mo.

    Nice Muslims:
    1 – All the nice bits in Islam are to be taken literally.
    2 – All the nasty bits require nuance, scholarship, air brushing … TWISTING … so that we don’t have to obey these inerrant commands of Allah.

    I’m struggling to figure out why it’s so difficult to figure out which has the authentic ‘untwisted’ version of Islam.

    If even Jonathan Pie is still sold on this rhetoric, what hope is there convincing appeasing politicians?

    • Diane G.
      Posted May 30, 2017 at 3:35 am | Permalink

      Good point!

      (And it goes without saying that your ISIS/Nice Muslim summary applies just as well to Evangelical Totalitarians/Nice Christians.)

      • Posted May 31, 2017 at 5:37 am | Permalink

        I agree it applies to other religions and their fundamentalists.

        The important distinction for me is the following, that together form a dangerous cocktail:

        – One book, one (supposed) source. The Bible (still accepted in parts in Islam) is more a history of interactions with god by various people, with other people commeneting on that. Much easier to cherry pick.

        – It’s inerrant, the perfect word of god valid for all time, and instructive for all aspects of life.

        – Specifically from the previous point it is intentionally political and judicial as well as religious – the religious element acts as little more than a ceorcive authority for the rest of the doctrine.

        – Respect/Tolerance. This is a bit more detailed, but essential to the cocktail, so …

        I don’t mind the fact that the religious don’t respect atheism as a view. They only need to tolerate it. I’m prepared to make the case for it without being pampered by respect.

        Not so with Islam. By far the most common demand of Muslims is that of respect: we should tolerate their views on things we disagree with, out of respect.

        This was brought home clearly in a recent conversation … after demanding I respect Islam, and me questioning that …

        Muslim: Of course I would never disrespect any religion, no matter what.

        Me: OK. Whatever religion ISIS hold … even accepting it isn’t Islam, or at best is a perverted version of Islam, do you respect their religion?

        Muslim: Isis are terrorist everyone knows that. They twist Islam to suit their own sick perverted agenda & spread hate & intolerance as well as committing acts of terror. You too are twisting religion to justify you’re hatred & intolerance of other religions.

        The respect/tolerance thing only works one way when the chips are down. This is as big a barrier to progress as any.

        • Diane G.
          Posted June 1, 2017 at 1:45 am | Permalink

          Yes, of course you’re right, there’s still a significant difference between Islam & current Christianity.

          • Eric Hayman
            Posted June 1, 2017 at 3:19 am | Permalink

            The “significant difference between Islam & (current) Christianity” is that Islam is a total way of life from cradle to grave, with dress codes, law codes, punishment codes, food codes, etc. Read the Koran and the Hadiths. Mohammed invented a system of power control and dressed it up as a religion.

  4. Posted May 29, 2017 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    I think his concept is about juxtaposing the carefully worded diplomatic BBC talk with the unfiltered private opinion, and this is done with the format of pretend-outtakes where he has permission to rant to his cameraman “Tim”.

    In Germany, there is a tradition for this kind of political-rant style called “(politisches) Kabarett”, also typical playing alter ego characters, but Pie’s version is of course unique.

    Jonathan Pie (and Jerry) are spot on, as usual. The problem is that most options available to us are more or less meaningless. We can be angry, or “support” this or that, or “talk” about something all day. Maybe it calms the minds, but actually achieves little.

    What we need is:

    (A) Several high profile people who are progressives/left, but not postmodern, woke, regressive etc. Abd who position themselves clearly.

    (B) This position needs to become a political force.

    Opinion leaders are good yardsticks to indicate a position in ideas/discourse space (etc). That’s why I find them useful. This is especially important as there are now lots of violent political undercurrents that tear and jerk everyone in all kinds of directions through polarization and name-calling. Having a few means of orientation, or to secure a position, can help tremendously.

    Right now it feels kind of lonely to be both on the left side, and critical of religion (especially Islam, since it’s even more conservative and pious than Anglicans and Lutherans etc, common in Northern Europe).

  5. nicky
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    Indeed, where did he get this idea from?
    I do not think there is anything twisted about it. The Trilogy is relatively clear on this.
    It is the ‘moderates’ that do the twisting, immo.

  6. maryhelena
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    Excellent article by Douglas Murray in The Spectator:

    Islamists are very clear about what they want — we just aren’t listening

    ”Where does it come from, this hatred the Islamists hold — as well as everyone else they loathe — for half the human species? Even moderate Muslims hate it when you ask this, but the question is begged before us all. What do people think the burka is? Or the niqab? Or even the headscarf? Why do Muslim societies — however much freedom they give men — always and everywhere restrict the freedom of women? Why are the sharia courts, which legally operate in the UK, set up to prejudice the rights of women? Why do Islamists especially hate women from their faith who raise their voices against the literalists and extremists?

    Do people think this stuff comes from thin air? It was always there. Because it’s at the religion’s origins..”

    Murray has published a new book:

    The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam.

    Douglas Murray with Sara Khan – Confronting Extremism after Manchester

    • maryhelena
      Posted May 29, 2017 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

      Link to The Spectator article:

      • nicky
        Posted May 29, 2017 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

        the article is behind a one pound a week subscription wall….

        • maryhelena
          Posted May 29, 2017 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

          Sorry about that. I had thought one could read a few articles without having to subscribe.

          Here is a link to an older article by Douglas Murray. I was able to access the article without a subscription.

          We must stop blaming ourselves for Islamist terrorism.

          ”How many more excuses are we going to make before we face the facts? How many more fifth-rate, sixth-form debates will we have to sit through? Why, whenever any act of Islamist terror is carried out on Western society do we race to ask all the wrong questions, all based on the central fallacy that this is somehow our own fault? We wring our hands and make excuses. And then we blame ourselves. “What did we do to make this happen?” we ask, time after time.”

          ”Unfortunately, there are always people on hand eager to feed our self-absorption and ignorance. “It is your foreign policy,” they say. Perhaps after Brussels people might question this response a little more searchingly. Aside from Bhutan, Belgium probably has the least interventionist foreign policy of any country in the world.”

  7. Posted May 29, 2017 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    There is no doubt in my mind that Islam is a very fertile ground for these murderous psychopaths to flourish in. I also agree that Islamic reformists have more or less failed in fundamentally transforming the worst tenets of Islam.

    But can we, please, for a second address the elephant in the room? The US and EU’s foreign policy in regards to Islamic countries and Muslims have been nothing short of total catastrophe.

    Islam is what it is. But before the eighties, Islamic terrorism was virtually nonexistent (I would argue that even Palestinian terrorism although partly inspired by religion, was mostly nationalistic). Then the US decided to flood arms into Afghanistan, to wryly assist both Iran and Iraq in their crazy war, to arm the Saudis to the teeth, to invade Iraq and Afghanistan, to play the sanctions cat and mouse game with Iran, to let Syria burn…

    And now people like Douglas Murray throw their hands in the air and ask with (hopefully genuine) astonishment: “What is wrong with this people?”

    These Islamic “hotheads” (to use Brzezinski’s words) were not supposed to be a real danger to the West and served to put a dagger in the Soviet’s back in its last moments. Reviewing the history, one cannot escape from the nagging idea that they could not have flourished this much in a stable geopolitical environment. After all, before 1979, the “dream” in most of the Middle East was to become as “Western” as possible.

  8. Eric Hayman
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    Missing from TV, radio and newspaper reports about what they call “the Manchester bombing” is the word “Muslim” The Muslim Manchester mass murderer is “the suicide bomber”. Only when the news media – and the government – focus on the crux of all current “suicide bombings” will anything start to take effect.

    An immediate ban on all face coverings in public places would make all people equal. The disbanding of so-called Sharia “advice centres” that are taking the place of local council run advice centres in areas where there are large Muslim populations would again make everyone equal.

    Infiltrating mosques and arresting imams making inflammatory speeches would help stop the so-called “radicalisation” of those attending the mosques. But what is “radicalisation”? Nothing more than getting back to the roots of Islam – and that means the Koran, where the Muslim bombers find the words that make them mass murderers. How are those words to be removed?

  9. Tony Eales
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    Jonathan Pie is fast becoming one of my go to commentators on world affairs. Or to put it another way his views align with mine but he puts it better than I could

    • Colin McLachlan
      Posted May 30, 2017 at 3:53 am | Permalink

      Me too. it’s worth going through his back catalogue on YouTube, at least if you’re a Brit. I find his rants very entertaining, and I like the format of him arguing with his producer.

  10. Posted May 29, 2017 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

    I hear nothing of root causes and solutions just more intel gathering, surveillance, policing the boarders, gun toting police and soldiers on streets, kiss my arse pandering and lack of quality leadership.
    This inevitably reduces one to, well in my case anyhow, this attack on innocents is of it’s time and only more of it will come until, as Pie is demonstrating ‘we’ all decide it is pure crap and we have had enough, clearly the proverbial ‘we’ haven’t.
    The civilizing process (read “The Better Angles of our Nature” by Steven Pinker) shows we have come some way but is not over yet, the question is for islam, how much longer?

  11. Mike
    Posted May 30, 2017 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    I think he is spot on with 90% of his rants, and this is definitely on point !

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