Peter Wilby: “Paris will … disturb most Europeans more than 9/11”

November 20, 2015 at 3:39 pm (Asshole, fascism, France, intellectuals, islamism, Jim D, murder, New Statesman, perversity, relativism)

Above: 9/11 commemoration, Paris 2011

Peter Wilby, writing in his First Thoughts column in the present edition of the New Statesman:

“In the wake of mass murder, comparisons may seem otiose and probably also distasteful.  But the atrocities in Paris will, I suspect, disturb most Europeans more than the 9/11 atrocities in the US, even though the casualties were many fewer. It is not just that Paris is closer than New York and Washington DC. The 2001 attacks were on symbols of US global capitalism and military hegemony. The victims were mostly people working in them. This did not in any way excuse the gang of criminals who carried out the attacks. But is was possible, at least, to comprehend what may have been going through their twisted minds and the minds of those who sponsored and assisted them.

“The Paris attacks were different. France, to be sure, is a nuclear-armed capitalist state willing to flex its military muscles according to principles that are not always clear to outsiders. But this was not an attack on its political, military or financial centres. It was on people of various ethnicities and nationalities on a Friday night out, watching football, enjoying a concert, eating, drinking and chatting in restaurants and bars in a city that is famed (admittedly not always justly) for romance, enlightenment and culture. That is what makes these attacks so shocking…”

So it is “possible …to comprehend” the mass killing of cleaners, office workers and (yes) financiers in the Twin Towers (and the many civilian workers in the Pentagon) because of where they worked – but not the deaths of “people of various ethnicities and nationalities” (so the 9/11 victims were all white Americans?) seeking “romance, enlightenment and culture” (concepts alien to the 9/11 victims, of course) in Paris?

Later on in his piece Wilby states that it is wrong to resort to “glib attempts to explain what drives men to kill indiscriminately.” Yet he seems to be able to “explain” 9/11. So perhaps, according to Wilby, Paris was “indiscriminate” but not New York or Washington?

The editorial of the  New Statesman of 17 September, 2001 appeared to blame Americans themselves for the 9/11 attacks — for “preferring George Bush to Al Gore and both to Ralph Nader”: the editor of the New Statesman at the time was one Peter Wilby.


  1. Andrew Coates said,

    This is writing for the sake of saying something, anything, or nothing.

    ” on people of various ethnicities and nationalities on a Friday night out, watching football, enjoying a concert, eating, drinking and chatting in restaurants and bars in a city that is famed (admittedly not always justly) for romance, enlightenment and culture. That is what makes these attacks so shocking.”

    The bit in brackets is particularly finely honed…..

    • Joe Baxter said,

      So the Twin Towers were a symbol of something but the crowds in the streets and cafes of Paris not – yet it is exactly the openness and mixing of cultures and peoples to be found there that so offends the mindless idiots of Daesh.
      Is he saying we shouldn’t be so shocked by the obliteration of thousands of people in the Twin Towers because the perpetrators might have a rationale, however perverse and mindless?
      “First Thoughts” – maybe time for a column called “Second Thoughts”.

  2. februarycallendar said,

    (Only a passing comment, but …) If Eagles of Death Metal had been playing in New York, Wilby would have come out with the full-on Old Left judgement.

  3. Rilke said,

    Informed by some cheap and sixth grqde sociology and written up with the exaggerated use of a thesaurus. No real theory, no emprical observation, no style and spliced with idiotic and curious judgements. 2 out of 10, must try harder!

  4. Paul Canning (@pauloCanning) said,

  5. Squad Goals said,

    I see the racist warmongers of the far-right shithole harry’s place are just sharing tory propaganda now:

    You should be ashamed of yourself for supporting these vermin jim.

  6. Squad Goals said,

    You do support them: you (a) have them on your blog role; (b) link to their articles; (c) reproduce their content and; (d) have one of their bloggers contributing to this site. Given that you identify as a revolutionary socialist why are you happy to network with a bunch a racist, tory vermin?

    McCluskey is being a thick fucking cunt there, repeating rightwing media bullshit and misrepresenting Corbyn’s actual position. At least through he is not reproducing speeches from David Cameron or advocating voting for Boris Johnson like the shitcunts of Harry’s Place.

    • Jim Denham said,

      I do not support them: (a) I have all sorts of people on the blog role – that does not imply support (as any fule kno); (b & c) I have very occasionally reproduced or linked to articles from them: I’ve also done the same with articles from the Guardian, the Times, Social Europe, The New Statesman and Standpoint: by your logic, that means I also support all of those sources as well; (d) one Shiraz writer also contributes to Harry’s Place: so what? Neither blog is democratic centralist.

      HP is not “racist” and not “tory”: they have some fairly right wing contributors but also some Labour supporters and left (US) democrats. If you’re going to attack them (and I’d agree that they need attacking at times) do try to get it right, Squaddy – throwing unsubstantiated epithets (especially “racist”) around just makes you seem a bit of an idiot.

      Being a revolutionary socialist doesn’t necessitate being an ignorant jerk.

    • Glasgow Working Class said,

      How can you misrepresent an idiot who cannot represent himself.The fool on the hill who changes his mind like a tampon on a good week.

      • Steven Johnston said,

        A week is a long time in politics, when you get into bed with those that support capitalism you have to be careful they don’t get wrong-footed.

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