Martin Amis can’t be trusted

“When an audience member last week returned the writer to the delicate question of his controversial 2006 remarks, he explained that they came shortly after the revelation of an Islamist plot to blow up 10 transatlantic flights in transit, saying: ‘You can pretend to be a pious post-historical automaton and not have these responses or you can admit to having transient retaliatory urges.’

“But against whom precisely are these ‘transient retaliatory urges’ experienced, if they must later be denied? I have retaliatory urges myself when I hear of Islamist terror plots, but against the planners and perpetrators of the potential carnage: I wish to see those people pursued, arrested, convicted, and sentenced to lengthy imprisonment. These urges are not transient in the least: they are constant.

“I do not, however – and I don’t mean this piously – wish at any point to retaliate against the pleasant Pakistani man who works all hours in our local dry-cleaners, or the Turkish bank teller down the road. To do so would clearly be obscene. Yet the lingering notion of an entire community’s culpability sporadically crops up among Amis’s ‘urges’….

“There is a world of difference between encouraging a minority community … to help defeat terrorism originating from fanatics within its ranks, and holding it communally accountable for that terrorism. The former may well provide our police with a tip-off that averts the next British suicide bomber; the latter will trigger attacks upon elderly Muslims who have never espoused jihadism.”

Jenny McCartney in the Sunday Telegraph, 9 December 2007