A brief thought on the Jeremy Corbyn ‘Osama Bin Laden’s death was a tragedy’ thing.
Now, clearly and obviously, he didn’t say that. What he said was taken out of context and twisted to make him look awful. Except, and here’s the thing that hasn’t been picked up on, it’s actually kind of damning when taken in context too. Here’s his words, regarding the death of Osama Bin Laden (I have just copied and pasted his words from this transcript, with no cutting or editing):
"This was an assassination attempt and is yet another tragedy upon a tragedy upon a tragedy.
The World Trade Centre was a tragedy, the attack on Afghanistan was a tragedy, the war in Iraq was a tragedy.”
The thing is, clearly Osama Bin Laden being killed without facing trial for his crimes is an injustice. It would’ve been better if he’d been put on trial. But by using the same word to describe it as the World Trade Centre attack, by making it part of a list of things that he considers tragedies, Corbyn is making the point – clearly and obviously – that to him these things are morally equivalent.
When they’re not. The (possibly unlawful) execution of a man who was responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent people and the grief and suffering of thousands more is not on the same scale as the act he was responsible for. You do not lump these things in together in a list. You do not use the same word to describe them. One is an atrocity beyond comprehension. One is an injustice, but, to be brutally honest, one which has the fortunate by-product of making the lives of lots of people in the UK and elsewhere a hell of a lot safer.
But to Corbyn, these are all six of one and half a dozen of the other. That’s the point he is making, that it is in some way wrong to distinguish between the death of thousands of innocents and one person who is guilty of mass murder.
I don’t know how you can mentally reach the point where you believe that. I’m not sure Corbyn believes that, even though that was the point he was making on television; maybe his judgement was clouded by the fact that he was supplementing his income as an MP by appearing on Press TV, the state-owned broadcaster of Iran, that progressive nation with a laudable human rights record.
And that’s not taking his comments out of context. That is the context. For good or for bad, agree with it or not, that’s the point he was making. That one tragedy is pretty much morally equivalent of another tragedy, they’re all tragedies to him.
His supporters will disagree, I’m sure. As far they’re concerned, he’s currently in a honeymoon period where he can do no wrong and is beyond criticism. They’ll blame it on the media, or the ‘commentariat’ like its 1936 and they’re George Orwell writing for Tribune. But honeymoons end, and eventually Corbyn’s supporters will realise that he is not the man of principle that they think he is but an opportunist, and that rather than providing an ‘effective opposition’ to the Conservative government he is, in fact, Don Quixote with Tom Watson as his Sancho Panza. I mean, so far he’s opposed ‘singing at memorial services’, ‘joining the privy council’ and – at a time when Russia is firing cruise missiles targeted on a ‘shuffle’ setting – unilateral nuclear disarmament. You’d think, with the NHS facing bankruptcy and the most vulnerable people in society having their benefits taken away, he’d be concentrating on those issues, issues that actually effect on people’s lives. But no. He has other windmills to fight.