The Sad Death of Jo Cox, and What is Terrorism?

Obviously the human tragedy of the death of Jo Cox, a mother of young children, is rightly uppermost in our mind after today’s appalling murder. There has been much random killing lately that appears broadly “terrorist” in nature, including in Orlando and Tel Aviv, and the human stories are always tragic; every violent death carries a dreadful freight of grief and loss.

But the Jo Cox death has caused immediate and fierce debate as to whether it was “terrorism” or not. This follows closely a similar and interesting debate over the Orlando killings. The questions raised over whether Omar Mateen, who undoubtedly had mental health issues, and was himself perhaps gay, complicated the question of his motivation, beyond his own declaration of loyalty to ISIS. It is to the credit of the US political establishment that their reaction reflected this complexity, Trump aside.

There is however a stark contrast in the UK. On the one hand we have the treatment of the Leyton tube knife attack and of the murder of Lee Rigby, both of which were unequivocally presented as Islamic terrorist incidents despite the obvious mental health problems of the perpetrators. On the other we have the media treatment of the Jo Cox murder, which there is a reluctance to call out as right wing terrorism. That the man is reported as yelling “Britain First” is apparently much less relevant to terrorism than if he had shouted “Allahu Akbar”.

The investigation is not being led by the counter-terrorism police. Simply put, if Tommy Mair were a Muslim, it would be.

Similarly, when Gregoire Murtaux was arrested ten days ago returning from Ukraine to France for Euro 2016 armed with five Kalashnikovs, two anti-tank grenade launchers, 5,000 rounds of ammunition, 100 detonators, and twelve kilos of high explosive, the media storm would still not have abated today if he had been a Muslim. There was more publicity for the Muslim who owned some fertiliser in a garage, or the Islamic “liquid bomb” plot which owned no detonators, explosives or suspicious liquids, or the Islamic “ricin plot” which owned no ricin.

It is a fact that the only terrorist arrested in Britain in this century who actually possessed a viable bomb and intended to use it was named Ryan McGee. He was a soldier, had a swastika on his wall and intended to kill Muslims. He was convicted – but not of terrorism with which, not being a Muslim, he was never charged. Many Muslims on the other hand have been jailed for terrorism for internet fantasy or boasting which had nowhere near reached the stage of preparation McGee had attained.

Terrorism has not officially been redefined as a crime of violence committed by a Muslim, but it might as well be. Just as the “Prevent strategy” has not officially been redefined as the control of Muslims not fully signed up to neo-liberalism, but might as well be.

Nobody has more consistently opposed than me the appalling use of racism to divert the attention of ordinary people from the cause of their poverty, which simply put is the vast wealth gap to the burgeoning stinking rich. I abhor UKIP, I abhor right wing politics.

I hold that the fashionable slogan “it is not racist to be concerned about immigration” is a lie.

Yet I do not accept in the least the argument put forward by Alex Massie in the Spectator that it is the rhetoric of Johnson, Hannan and Farage that caused the climate in which Jo Cox was murdered. Massie’s article is being much applauded by the Remain camp across political parties. Yet the only place where emotions have been whipped into a frenzy by the referendum campaign is precisely in the right wing Conservative milieu that Massie inhabits. Indeed Massie’s article is precisely proof of that very fact; it is a vicious and underhand blow in the bitter internecine battle within the Tory party. However much I dislike Johnson, Gove et al, to claim they inspired the murder of Jo Cox is wrong. They couldn’t inspire a souffle to rise, let alone the masses. The referendum campaign is more likely to induce a catatonic state than rage. What Massie is doing is giving vent to the vile hatred of Conservatives for each other that is rending the Tory Party apart.

It should be applauded because it is good to see Tories tearing each other apart, but not because Massie is right.

In a move that shows the fuddy-duddies of the Spectator haven’t actually quite understood the internet yet, they have taken down Massie’s initial article and replaced it with a version in which the names of all the Tories he accuses are removed and the new article blames only Farage. The link I give above is to the original captured by archive.org.

It is sad that Jo Cox’s tragic death becomes discussed by everybody – myself included – in political terms so quickly. That does not mean that I, or even Mr Massie or the many mainstream media journalists involved, do not genuinely feel for her family. It seems to me very probable that Tommy Mair was motivated by hatred of immigrants when he reportedly shouted “Britain First” and killed Jo Cox. But that hatred of immigrants has been fostered over many years by the right wing in the UK – including virtually the entire Conservative Party, not just the Brexiteers. Stoking of racist emotion has been a deliberate long term ploy to provide a focus of blame for the victims in society of the consequences of neo-liberalism.

As I have argued so often, terrorism is unfortunately easy. Even a misfit like Thomas Mair can carry out a successful terrorist attack if they really want to do it. Almost everybody reading this blog could kill somebody tomorrow if they really wanted and were careless of their own life. That is why I have never believed the official nonsense about the thousands of totally unproductive Islamic terrorists we are harbouring, and the scores of plots the security services have brilliantly and secretly foiled. There is not more political death because fortunately the impulse to such killing is an extremely rare pathology.

Horrible things happen in a complicated and unfair world. Unless we see a truly revolutionary social change which fundamentally addresses the distribution of work, reward and wealth and the ownership of enterprises, societal coherence is going to continue to deteriorate. One brand of Tory versus another and Brexiteer versus Remainer are fluff, and not relevant to the current tragedy.

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  • ICFubar

    It is sad for the family and friends that this women was murdered but the neo liberal policies and out growths of those policies that this women supported or championed have killed millions who didn’t deserve to die either. I’m sorry to say, and I mean sorry I’m at this point, that I won’t be shedding any sad thoughts over this death anymore than if a senor neo con were to meet an untimely end. Her political and ideological masters have murdered enough of the people’s leaders over the years for which I have been greatly saddened. What goes around comes around whether right or wrong, so if the powers that be choose to do wrong what can we say but that the whole situation is a very sad state of affairs.

    • Asedr

      I can only guess you have done no reaserch whatsoever into the politics or life of Jo Cox. She spent her life helping people across the globe, notably with Oxfam, and recently spoke movingly in Parliament advocating for more Syrian refugees to be taken in.

      • ICFubar

        No I haven’t researched Cox, nor how she has voted in Parliament but being a back bench member of the Tories I can well imagine. You don’t get the party nomination to run without holding the party line plain and simple. or why she was campaigning for the “Bremain” side of the equation I guess as a saintly gesture for the people of Britain. What a “good girl”.

        • Nick Smegg

          She was a member of the Labour opposition actually.

          • ICFubar

            Yes I just found that out. I was in error from listening to some MSM broadcast, the only one I listened to in regards to this event, and was given that she was a Tory. Still some Labour reps are little different than those across the isle. I will delete my earlier comment as it is in error. Cheers…..

          • Nick Smegg

            I’m so used to being flamed by people in internet discussions that your post has cheered me up. Yes, you’re right about Labour being little different from the Tories (except maybe for Corbyn).

          • ICFubar

            I usually never respond to flamers, considering it a waste of time and what their personality must be. I’m here to try and learn something and to share what little I can add to the conversation just as you have done here.

      • MrLiberty

        She spent other people’s money “helping people”, and her support of more Syrians in Britain is nothing more than the desire to steal even more money, take away more private property rights, and expose more British to potential harm and economic damage when their economy can’t support all the freeloaders it already has. Your comments might sound like praise to you, but anyone who actually has to pay the bills, run a business, or try and support themselves with real productive work, sees then and yet another indictment of how horrible this woman was in her lack of respect for the people of Britain.

      • Nick Smegg

        I have done some research and she was quite happy to campaign – along with Clinton and Obama – against the Assad regime, which at the moment stands between civilisation and barbarity.

    • Asedr

      She was also a member of the opposition working against neoliberalism in the UK.

      • ICFubar

        So this is why she was campaigning for the “Bremain” I guess.

      • Nick Smegg

        She voted for Liz Kendall in the Labour party leadership contest. Kendall is more right wing, more extreme than Bliar, and Mrs Cox was pretty open about getting Jeremy Corbyn replaced. She wanted a no-bomb zone to be enforced in Syria and that strikes me as the surest route to World War 3 and Hell.

  • Silverado

    Why does the phrase “a good crisis is a terrible thing to waste (even in Britain)” come immediately to my conspiratorial mind?? Besides there’s no 2nd Amendment there and most guns are outlawed already. So it’s more like gun-free Chicago than some liberal utopia where crime is unheard of. On the contrary, we see now that it’s the govt that really has the dirty hands when it comes to this kind of…political crime. No matter which one we’re talking about too. And they want us to give up our guns and God-given gun rights in this country that’s run by criminal neocons running a protection racket for the military-industrial complex and their enablers in finance who have been flooding the world and killing brown skinned people by the 10’s of thousands from the middle east especially with their brand of legal death and destruction since they took control of this country after 9/11?? Not one chance in Hell that’s going to happen now. Even the LBGT community has caught on to their crimes and is arming themselves…

    • MrLiberty

      Don’t disagree with the rest of what you said, but as to “gun free” zones, it should be the right of every private property owner to decide how a patron should behave on their property. If a club owner does not wish to allow guns (concealed or otherwise), that should be their right…period. But government must NEVER be allowed to make that decision for the property owner. And that is just the tip of the iceberg regarding private property rights that need to be restored to property owners. But these property owners must be prepared to face the economic consequences regarding how the choices they make.

  • Sam

    Actual witness confirms killer didn’t shout ‘Britain First.’

    http://www.lbc.co.uk/jo-cox-witness-says-no-one-shouted-britain-first-132375

  • MrLiberty

    And nobody thinks that British politicians are murdered simply to further a political cause? Now polls are trending against Brexit and more calls for a clampdown on “domestic terrorists” are being made. You do the math. Sounds like just another government sponsored false flag killing to me, just like Orlando.