Belmont Club


Two British articles are connected by a single emotion. Acceptance. The first is a Telegraph article describing the “thousands of [Islamic] extremists” who are active in the UK, living in known neighborhoods, sending large quantities of money to Southwest Asia to support the Jihad and are planning attacks on British government centers.

“The main extremist concentrations are in London, Birmingham, with significant extremist networks in the South East, notably Luton. Extremist networks are principally engaged in spreading their extremist message, training, fund raising and procuring non-lethal military equipment to support the Jihads in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq, and sending recruits to the conflicts.

“UK-based extremists, either under the direction of al-Qaeda, or inspired by al-Qaeda’s ideology of global Jihad, have also engaged in attack planning in the UK.”

Although the document specifically names London, Birmingham and south east England as areas of extremist activity, MI5 believe that the threat posed by Islamist extremists comes from across the UK. In an attempt to deal with the growing number of terrorists, MI5 now has nine regional offices and has almost doubled its staff numbers from 1,800 in 2001 to 3,500 today.

There are around 1.5 million Muslims in Britain, a million of whom live in London. There are 150,000 Muslims in Birmingham and a further 27,000 in Luton. There are also an estimated 10,000 Afro-Caribbean Muslims or white converts.

There’s isn’t much talk of final victory or reaching a long term solution to the problem: only a sense that the worst is yet to come.

Patrick Mercer, the Tory MP for Newark, said al-Qaeda now had support in large parts of the country, especially around Luton which was the spot where the 7/7 terrorists assembled before travelling to London to mount the Tube bombings.

He added: “We know that subversion and support for al-Qaeda is taking place in campuses and prisons all over the UK. The fact that we have not been attacked for over two years should not be taken by anyone as evidence that the threat has gone away, in fact it is just the contrary.”

The other article is the diary of Dr. Robert Mayer, who documented his treatment for pancreatic cancer under the British National Health Service. “The drugs he needed to prolong his life were not funded by the NHS, so he enrolled in a drug company trial to get other treatment. His wife Susan, also a GP, believes that the drugs gave her husband an extra nine months of life. Here, in an extract from Robert’s private diaries, he writes movingly about his illness – and the NHS.” Mayer’s diary begins with these words:

I do not feel ill. But I am. More than I care to know. I think back to a few weeks ago, before the symptoms started. When I was well. Of course I didn’t know it then, but already there were cells in my pancreas starting their mitotic frenzy. The first thing I was aware of was a vague discomfort on the left side of my abdomen, which sometimes kept me awake at night.

But some months later, Mayer is no longer thinking about beating the cancer. He is talking about coping. He is beginning to accept his fate.

And so the crash. As the steroids and their artificial boost leech away, I can see it all clearly. Just waiting around, waiting to get ill again, waiting to die. And madly envious of those with lives to look forward to, with holidays to plan. Envious even of my wife and children. Only wine and sleep will do – and to hope to wake in a different mood.

When the words “nothing can be done” are spoken for individuals they sometimes mean precisely that. For nations the meaning is different. They don’t mean everyone will cease exist. But it means they will change into something they never dreamed possible. When Winston Churchill struggled against Hitler, he did not imagine he was fighting to save the individual lives of the populace. They would be needed, even as slaves. He was fighting for the survival of nation in the sense of its conciousness. It’s culture. He knew this, but it has been forgotten. And forgetfulness is perhaps the real dementia of civilizations. William Manchester wrote of Churchill’s curious exaltation during the Finest Hour.

He possessed an inner radiance that year and felt it. In his memoirs he wrote that “by the confidence, indulgence, and loyalty by which I was upborne, I was soon able to give an integral direction to almost every aspect of the war. This was really necessary because times were so very bad. The method was accepted because everyone realised how near were death and ruin. Not only individual death, which is the universal experience, stood near, but, incomparably more commanding, the life of Britain, her message, and her glory.” …

And now, in the desperate spring of 1940, with the reins of power at last firm in his grasp, he resolved to lead Britain and her fading empire in one last great struggle worthy of all they had been and meant, to arm the nation, not only with weapons but also with the mace of honor, creating in every English breast a soul beneath the ribs of death.

Like the Mayer’s chemotherapy it gave time. How long, who can say?

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