Thursday, May 25, 2017


Cast iron cover with the name "Manchester"Rod Dreher, in common with most of the rest of the world, struggles to make sense of the senseless: the bomb exploded in a crowd of women and girls at an Ariana Grande concert and the resulting slaughter of innocent people.

In the process, he makes a very interesting set of comments, and displays what I call "logophobia", meaning fear of and revulsion toward a specific word, rather than a repudiation of the concept behind it.

Dreher quotes, with approval, Alex Massie, who writes: remains reasonable to ask what motivated the bomber, who inspired him, whose writings or teachings or words gave him the serenity and security of ‘righteousness’ and ask what can be done to counter this. We ask because we need to know and because knowing can aid the process of doing something, however imperfectly, about it.
 This sums up, as well as I have generally seen it summed up, the appropriate response to terrorism. Its underlying message, think, denies the terrorists what they most want: unreasoning anger. The definition of terrorism bears repeating at times like this: hard men manipulate angry men into unspeakable acts, with the intent of proving widespread anger. The master manipulators who plan acts such as these want as many people filled with rage as possible, because they think they can shape that rage. A determination to think straight, an approach to terror campaigns as problems we can find at least partial solutions to denies the cold brains behind the terror what they most want.

Dreher then goes on to indicate he does not consider all thoughts on this matter helpful. He quotes, scornfully, this article by Christina Cauterucci, and in particularly this statement:
Like her pop-superstar predecessor Britney Spears, Grande has advanced a renegade, self-reflexive sexuality that’s threatening to the established heteropatriarchal order. If the Manchester bombing was an act of terrorism, its venue indicates that the attack was designed to terrorize young girls who idolize Grande’s image.
In the context of Alex Massie's statement, this looks like a reasonable effort to "ask what motivated the bomber", or at least to try to assess the thought process that went into this choice of victims. Plenty of quite respectable sources have described the cultures of North Africa and Southern and Western Asia as "honour/shame" cultures, in which the requirements of "honour" include a rigid, brutal control over the sexuality of women and girls. It does not seem unreasonable to imagine someone from a culture such as that, trying to hold on to its values, feeling threatened by Ariana Grande's vision of women's empowerment.

Dreher, on the other hand, reacts to this comment with the following:
The arrogant stupidity of wokeness. Those girls weren’t killed by the heteropatriarchy, you dimwit. They were slaughtered by a radical Muslim.
Off hand, I find it hard to think of a culture more rigidly committed to patriarchy or heterosexism than the Deash; they, after all, inspire mass murders at gay nightclubs in the United States; in the (fortunately dwindling) places where their writ runs, they execute Gay men by throwing them off walls. At the very least, I find it hard to see a contradiction behind a murderous devotion to the values of "heteropatriarchy" and the kind of terror on display in Manchester.

Dreher, however, focuses on words. His objections do not center on the idea some form of male entitlement may have played a role in the thinking of the bomber. He simply focuses on the neologism "heteropatriarchy" and substitutes his expression of scorn for the word in the place of an argument about the thing.

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