Why would any self-respecting jihadi bride really want to return here?

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Why would any self-respecting jihadi bride really want to return here?

Sean Walsh believes Shamima Begum might be better off not returning to a country in which her own case has confirmed that even the occupiers of the highest offices of the land prefer to “virtue” signal rather than deal with her awfulness.

If I had my way, Shamima Begum would be left to enjoy the ambiguous benefits of the failed state, she has done so much to help shape. But then, if I had my way, I’d probably send Gary Lineker out to join her (along with whoever created the multibox game Fortnite). “My way”, in other words, is not always the best way. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in that. Sajid Javid please take note.

Is the jihadi bride deserving of forgiveness? Of course: but only by those who have the right to offer it. The concept of forgiveness is a tricky one, it defines a specific form of relationship between those who are wronged and those who have wronged them and requires contrition on the part of the latter towards the former. It is by no means obvious that these conditions are in place in this case. Furthermore, forgiveness should never be easy in that it involves that the person offering it interrogates their own soul. If you find it easy to forgive then maybe that is a vanilla flavour of forgiveness. And can a state, which is not after all a person, ever really be able to offer it?

But if the Christian duty of forgiveness is difficult in its application then the more important one of love is not. Christian love has nothing to do with how you feel and everything to do with how you will. Love -or agape as St Paul called it- is the active willing of the good of the other as other. It is most clearly present when we will the good of the worst people in the world. The obligation of Christian love is unconditional and universal in scope; the obligation of forgiveness is unconditional but restricted in scope. If you “forgive” someone for an action that has nothing to do with you then you are like the mourner at the funeral who, despite not knowing the deceased, barges to the front when it comes to looking at the flowers.

In this case, it seems, Christian love coincides with the intuition that Ms (Mrs….?) Begum be left to reap what she has sewn. The worst thing that could happen to her is that she comes back here. For her sake. What would she be coming back to?

First off where would she live? She has disqualified herself from social housing, not because of what she has done since she left the UK but because she left in the first place. In order to qualify to bid for council accommodation she would have to demonstrate what is known to our local government apparatchiks as a “local connection”. I understand she is from Bethnal Green. Can she demonstrate that connection having been away for four years? Had she colluded in the murder of anyone locally before she left?

Which brings us seamlessly to the next obstacle: her child. I get that Ms Begum is not “fazed” by a bin full of severed heads. More power to her elbow (whatever that elbow has done). But it doesn’t follow that she is equipped for the inevitable early morning knock from “child safeguarding”. I understand that there are satellite photos of Ms Begum wielding a Kalashnikov rifle while at the same time nonchalantly smoking a cigarette: I can’t think of a single local council that would agree to her being able to retain custody of her child absent a non-smoking re-education course.

Most ominously: Mr Jeremy Corbyn has gone on the record to say that if she comes “home” then she will “need support”. From Jeremy Corbyn? Support? Frankly, if Mr Corbyn were ever to offer me “support” I think I would shuffle my feet and make the appropriate excuse: “Thanks for the offer but I understand that the allotment is asking for you. There’s a dispute in the turnip patch”.

The whole Begun nonsense has become defined according to the ridiculous contemporary matrix of judgment versus unfettered (and therefor self-defeating) tolerance. We have imposed the conversation on the spiritually dubious assumption that this country is one worth returning to.

A common trick of the liberal left (which has infected all nominally distinct political parties) is to elide any distinction between what is legal and what is moral. Our Home Secretary has used his power in service of that conflation. He has a responsibility, acting on the part of the state, to protect the rest of us. He has no right make decisions in service of a form of moral voluntarism on the part of the rest of us.

That responsibility is best discharged -maybe- by accepting that since we allowed this awful woman to leave and wreak her own version of havoc then we have a responsibility to get her and make her account for it. If that is a “moral” judgment, then it is one that flows more or less formally from the legal one.

As for Ms Begum herself… it might be a case where Christian duty coincides with her own wishes. She might be better off not returning to a country in which her own case has confirmed that even the occupiers of the highest offices of the land prefer to “virtue” signal rather than deal with her awfulness.

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  • Sean Walsh
    Sean Walsh
    Sean Walsh is a former university teacher of philosophy. He has a doctorate in the philosophy of artificial intelligence and his current research interests are in the philosophy of mind, metaphysics and the philosophy of religion. He is also interested in philosophical issues around addiction. He lives in Wiltshire and works with addiction and recovery agencies, and with a homeless charity. He runs a lot.
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