Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Tariq Jahan

In the face of a potential flashpoint, Tariq Jahan's restraint in the expression of his grief before the cameras and his refusal to blame the government or police for the actions of criminals stand out as an example of dignity and reason.

Like many others, I was impressed by the conduct of Tariq Jahan, speaking after the death of his son during last summer's rioting.

His appearance in court this week on charges of assault, while causing some embarrassment to those who had subsequently lauded him to the skies and proposed him for, among other things, the (dubious) accolade of bearing the Olympic torch, does nothing to alter my opinion of his behaviour on that day.

It does, however, suggest a motivation unknown to the millions hanging on his words. Jahan knew that, with the assault charges hanging over his head, any appearance of incitement to violence would be disastrous for his case and would, by association, tarnish the memory of his son.

It's a blow for those who like their news stories in black or white, refusing to allow that a single human nature could be capable of both baseness and nobility. There is something pathetic in this insistence - yet another symptom, perhaps, of a lack of maturity in the general population.

Perhaps it springs from a need to follow a leader, to have someone to look up to as an example; there are precious few worthy role models around these days so it's no wonder the masses look to the MSM and popular culture to supply them - and to lead the ruthless backlash should the idol have feet of clay.

Whether Jahan is found guilty or innocent will make no difference to the fact that, in a critical moment last summer, he found the right words and delivered them with dignity.

4 comments:

  1. "It's a blow for those who like their news stories in black or white..."

    As is the news (also in today's 'Mail') that the Lithuanian immigrant who intervened in a bank robbery is somewhat less than heroic after all, having murdered a grandfather.

    Life's not really like the movies, is it?

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  2. "a single human nature could be capable of both baseness and nobility."

    Good point - in spite of a century or more of psychological research, the public domain is pretty hopeless at reflecting human complexity.

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  3. Julia, it's interesting to imagine how religion - or politics - would be without the simplicity that seeks absolute good or evil in people, like children booing and cheering pantomime characters on stage.

    I'm reminded that what always put me off the Labour party (even in my socialist youth, I never joined)
    was the knee-jerk hostility to anything Conservative. Even now, decades after Thatcher left office, left-wing comedians trot out the same tired jokes but, more than that, seem incapable of regarding her as a human being like any other.

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  4. AKH, does the Christian background of our legal and political system play a part, I wonder?

    Take, for example, the defendant released on a techncality and promptly hailed by his or her supporters as being pure as the driven snow, despite a clear history of low-level unpleasantness and criminal associations.

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