Notes From the Margins…

Boris Johnson and the Rise of the Porno-Terrorist

  • February 01, 2015
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Readers of this site might be surprised to know that the single most common search category that brings new readers to this site is pornography, more specifically, a category known as ‘British army porn.’    This is because of an old post I wrote called ‘the British army’s war porn’ – a post that probably won’t detain many of the people who came to this site for long.

I used to think this was funny, but now I’m wondering if it’s dangerous in the wake of the Lord Mayor of London’s depictions of jihadi terrorists last week as “literally wankers, serious onanists.”   Maybe it’s because its Churchill’s anniversary or maybe the smell of cordite from the machine gun  he fired in Iraq last week went to his head, but Johnson is not known for his insight into terrorism.  Nevertheless he told the Sun:

“If you look at all the psychological profiling about bombers, they typically will look at porn. They are tortured. They will be very badly adjusted in their relations with women, and that is a symptom of their feeling of being failures and that the world is against them. They are not making it with girls and so they turn to other forms of spiritual comfort – which of course is no comfort.”

Questioned about these observations, Johnson said he could not believe that “anyone could seriously contest a word I said.”  Johnson also claimed to have taken this thesis from M15 reports.  If true – and with Johnson noone can say that it is – that is an alarming revelation.

The depiction of terrorists as psychotic loners from another moral planet has a long pedigree.   The Russian prosecutors of the People’s Will assassins who killed Alexander II tried to do this.    So did the German media with Ulrike Meinhof and Andreas Baader.   Doris Lessing once did the same thing in her novel The Good Terrorist.     When Americans discovered to their horror that the Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh was not an Arab of a Muslim, many media ‘experts’ concluded that it was all down to his parents’ divorce.

The history of terrorism certainly contains numerous examples of dysfunctional and marginalized men, but it is crudely reductionist to depict such men as sexually-frustrated ‘wankers’ who killed because they couldn’t have sex.   Andreas Baader had plenty of success with ‘girls’ .   The first World Trade Centre bomber Ramzi Yousef spent some time whoring with Khalid Sheikh Muhammad in Filipino bars while plotting how to blow up passenger planes.

The 9/11 pilot Ziad al-Jarrah was by all accounts an attractive, charming and well-adjusted young man who was going to get married to his fiancée before he decided to become a suicide-murderer.     Nor do the 7/7 bombers fit Johnson’s profile.

There are no simple answers as to how these men were able to convince themselves that it was their religious and/or political duty to murder ‘soft targets’, but the idea that pornography led them to it does not bear much scrutiny.

Nor does the UK government’s list of the ‘engagement factors’ than educators, parents and other people in authority are expected to regard as signs of potential radicalization as part of its Prevent strategy.  These factors include ‘Feelings of grievance and injustice’,   ‘A need for identity, meaning and belonging’,   ‘ A desire for status’, and   ‘ A desire for excitement and adventure’.

Educators and parents have also been warned to look out for young people ‘at a transitional time of life’ with ‘ A desire for political or moral change’ – a category that includes most of the Greeks who voted for Syriza, the 100,000 who gathered at the Podemos rally yesterday, and the million and half demonstrators who marched against the Iraq war back in 2003.

You all probably know many people who fit into one or more of these categories.   Just as you probably know young men who ‘typically look at porn.’   But the assumptions behind them change radically when applied to Muslims.     Then, it seems,  ‘ a desire for excitement and adventure’ or ‘ a desire for political or moral change’ becomes part of the conveyor belt that leads to ‘radicalization.’

In the same way,   the notion that ‘porn-driven’ Muslims are likely to end up blowing themselves to pieces or murdering cartoonists is another variant on the cliché of sexually-frustrated young men seeking to gain access to the ‘virgins in paradise’ by blowing themselves up.

In the same week that Johnson made his onanism/terrorism connections, the scientist Richard Dawkins   proposed ‘love-bombing’ Iran and tweeted:  “Good idea to beam erotic videos to theocracies?     NOT violent porn, but loving, gentle, woman-respecting eroticism.”

 

 

One suspects that Iranian men in search of ‘eroticism’ probably know where to look for it already, and it’s safe to say that the foundations of the Islamic Republic are unlikely to be rocked by ‘erotic videos’.

If you believe that you will believe anything.  And Johnson’s suggestion that jihadist terrorism is somehow due to masturbation is further proof that an elite education is no barrier to stupidity.

 

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1 Comment

  1. Richard Carter

    1st Feb 2015 - 11:09 pm

    According to BoJo, all terrorists are ‘literally wankers, serious onanists.’
    Well, it takes one to know one….

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About Me

I’m a writer, campaigner and journalist.  My latest book is The Savage Frontier: The Pyrenees in History and the Imagination (New Press/Hurst, 2018).  The Infernal Machine is where I write on politics, history, cinema and other things that interest me.

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