When is a nutter not a nutter, but a politically motivated terrorist? And are those two states of being always mutually exclusive? Or are they always the same thing?
That first question was asked, in a fairly gentle manner, by a Muslim mate of mine on a social media site. The thread had been about the murder of the Labour MP Jo Cox — and my friend was a little surprised to note the ease, if not eagerness, with which other commentators were ready to describe the alleged murderer as being simply a ‘loony’.
I do not know, and will not pre-judge, the state of mind of Thomas Mair, the man now charged with the murder of Jo Cox. The fact that he gave his name in court as ‘Death to Traitors, Freedom for Britain’ might or might not suggest that he is mentally ill rather than politically motivated. What is interesting is that so many people, at least on social media, appear to discount so readily the possibility of a political motive when a non-Muslim kills someone. My Muslim friend pointed out that if the person who killed an MP had been a different colour, had one of those stupid radical beards and had shouted out ‘Allahu Akbar!’ then people would be in no doubt that they were dealing not with a maniac, per se, but with a Muslim. And they would have come to that conclusion regardless of whether or not the man in question had a history of ‘mental health issues’. It would have been another Islamist crime, to add to all the others.
Muslims have become just about the only people who can murder and maim for political or ideological ends without us immediately conferring a diagnosis of madness upon them.