Earlier this month, the London School of Economics attempted to get the following motion passed: "Should LSESU Condemn the Brutal Massacre in Paris?" Why a student union needs to pass a motion condemning something so clearly abhorrent, as if without passing the motion the action is somehow open to interpretation, is a reasonable question to ask oneself. However, leaving that aside, given that the SU went to the effort to try and pass it, it is equally reasonable to expect that it sailed through. In recent years at LSE, motions have passed to ban the Sun, Blurred Lines and Jesus and Mo images, so it is quite fair to conclude that this is a democratically mobile student body which will be quite happy to vote on such a motion. Yet, the motion didn't pass. The paltry number of 250 wasn't reached. Why?
Only two weeks later, a motion to condemn the government's decision to bomb Syria was proposed and, of course, it passed. It is really rather hilarious, except also incredibly depressing. Not only did this motion pass, but it did so comfortably, reaching the quoracy and passing with 71% of voters. Clearly, it is more palatable for the students at the LSE to condemn the actions of the government then it is to condemn the actions of religious fanatics. People who blow themselves - and innocent civilians - up because they believe dying for their faith will mean they will be relaxing languorously on a fluffy white cloud with a harem of 72 virgins for the rest of eternity.
Whilst one was a direct assault on our very values, that is impossible to justify morally in any shape or form, the other was a decision taken by the UK that can be supported. I personally don't believe that airstrikes in Syria are the solution to this enormous problem we face, but you can at least present a relatively compelling argument with legitimate, moral arguments. For example, ISIS is clearly a theocratic, fascist hell-hole that we need to oppose, or, France is our ally and we should stand by them. It is much easier to condemn the Paris attacks than to condemn - not oppose, but condemn, with all the morally censorious connotations that comes with that word - the "display of symbolic imperialist might" that is the UK's decision to bomb Syria.
Given that the LSESU is left-wing, and that a year ago the NUS blocked a motion condemning ISIS for fear of "Islamaphobia", I believe it is fair to infer a wider trend in left-wing thinking from this situation. Rather than express outrage at this attack on the European way of life by Islamic fundamentalists who hate us because of their religion, it is much easier for the left to condemn the UK government. A bit of light Tory-bashing never hurt anyone, and, indeed, gets you lots of likes on Facebook. But calling ISIS a bunch of marauding maniacs, might, you know, hurt someone's feelings. And what if I look Islamaphobic? Or racist? Or culturally insensitive?
It's weak. The lack of outrage from the left in Britain and its students - students who throughout history have typically been radical and outspoken - is disheartening. No-one seems to know what to do or say, but it is obvious. Regardless of Western intervention or global poverty or climate change, this is wrong. Islamic fundamentalism is wrong. Saying so doesn't mean you have subscribed to the idea that the West is without fault or even that you endorse capitalism. You can be a vegan, anarchist who wants Jeremy Corbyn ordained as the Pope, and condemning the rise of ISIS wouldn't have to contravene any of these views. So why aren't more people doing so?
Furthermore, the LSESU has a strong feminist thrust and the silence from them is deafening. Every day, under ISIS rule, women are being raped and used as sex slaves, and yet the feminist reaction, as a whole, has been muted. When you compare this to the reaction Charlotte Proudman received with her LinkedIn furore, or the witch-hunt that strong-armed Nobel Laurette Tim Hunt out of a job for a joke, then you cannot help but think something is amiss. I am a member of the LSESU feminist group on Facebook, and at the time of writing, a cursory scroll down their feed reveals articles - amongst others, yes - shared on the aging of Princess Leia in Star Wars, an article about someone working in McDonald's and a video about why someone is not buying the new Adele. Is this really important in the broader context of what's going on? Are we really using our intellectual energies in the right way?
What this motion debacle says is a number of things. Firstly, as I have pointed out numerous times, the left is so blinded by its anti-Western, anti-imperialism, anti-American agenda, that it is going out of its way to apologise for the actions of theocratic fascists. The left, which purports to represent women, transgender, LGBT and people of minorities, has been far more silent than the right on the issue of ISIS and Islamic fundamentalism as a whole, but it is the very people that they say they represent who would be the first to be made sex slaves, have their head cut, or be thrown off a building. Why this silence? Why? It says to me one thing and one thing loudly: the left is broken. And, if well-meaning liberals don't get their act together then this vacuum will be filled by a far-right which is actually voicing the concerns of the populace. This, surely, is the last thing the left should want so it needs to sort itself out - and quickly.