Dundalk Stabbings Not Terrorism Despite Right-Wing Fear-Mongering


The murder of one and stabbings of two other people in Dundalk recently was a horrible incident which was terrifying for those caught up in it and has left one family grieving for a loved one. Carried out by someone who was clearly disturbed - why or what caused that remains to be seen.

Some have reacted by letting anger or fear take over and jumping to unproven conclusions about Islamist terrorism, even after the gardaí have announced that they have investigated that possibility and found no link whatsoever. Fascist and far-right elements are drooling at the opportunity to smear all refugees, all Muslims, all people from the Middle East, and to a large extent all migrants. Social media, and Twitter in particular, has been buzzing with anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim hysteria for the past 24 hours.

It is not surprising but it really is terrible that so many people with a right-wing agenda have jumped on this and attempted to use a very human tragedy to stir up hatred and differences.

Here is an example of this poison, as poured underneath a Solidarity Times article on the stabbings:

‘Look at Paris, or any major German city, that’s where we’re headed here, you are asleep, I am sure you’re a humanitarian but you’re brainwashed and fast asleep to the coming horror, inform yourself as to the reality of what’s happening across Europe, but be aware, you won’t find anything on mainstream media, which I expect is your source of your liberal views.

We have to squash those attempts and build a society that respects and celebrates difference and looks to build solidarity across all races, peoples and religions if we are to create a world where terrorism does not exist.

This Article is a False Flag Operation

Meanwhile, others have stated that this is a 'false flag operation' which will be used to justify PESCO, the EU military agreement which was recently passed to much justified popular opprobrium. This is a different narrative to the right-wing xenophobic one which says that the foreign hordes are rattling at the gates of Western civilisation.

A ‘false flag’ is an elaborate hoax executed by the powerful in order to induce panic and anger in the service of some hidden agenda. False flag operations have, in fact, occurred throughout history. Operation Northwood – the U.S. plan to justify war with Cuba – and the Gleiwitz Incident – the fake Nazi justification for invading Poland – are real and oft-cited examples.

The WSM doesn’t harbour any illusions that our rulers, state or corporate, have our best interests in mind, and we are well aware of their atrocities and chicanery throughout history. Usually that harm is caused by the banal going through the motions of institutions whose incentives are misaligned with human needs. However, those who are absorbed in the political frame of conspiracy theories are apt to call just about any event a ‘false flag’, even though they are actually rare events, particularly if it controverts their understanding of the world. The most potent example is right-wing conspiracy charlatan Alex Jones.

Few are conscious charlatans like Jones, a multi-millionaire who will routinely declare uncomfortable facts to be ‘false flags’, for instance mass shootings which discredit his proclamations about guns. But regardless, the mindset is infectious. Ironically, it panics people in another direction, loosening our grip on reality, warning of shadowy malevolent forces manipulating our reality behind the veil of normality, something we are expected to accept based on faith rather than fact, helped down the gullet with a spoonful of sensationalism.

It is a very apocalyptic and religious mindset, indeed the description above could well be a Christian depiction of how Satan distorts our world. Unsurprisingly, some sections of the conspiracy theorist internet literally speak of Satanists plotting against us and infiltrating the corridors of power. But we know well by now how religion can be used to control people, or how we can end up diverted into passivity. Certainly the far-right, who also tend to speak in the language of conspiracy theories, more easily gain people's confidence from a widespread acceptance of such frenzied and personalised ways of perceiving the world.

One way or the other, the onus is on the person claiming that the Dundalk stabbings, or anything else, is a false flag operation to provide evidence. More bluntly, the person asserting that surreptitious state functionaries and other powerful forces, presumably Europe-wide, have worked in concert to plant an 18-year-old and attack three passersby with a knife, somehow to build an atmosphere to pass PESCO, must actually prove that somehow. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

As one reader commented under a Solidarity Times article:

‘Take just this point: imagine tomorrow, you and your multi-billionaire buddies want to "destroy the West". With all that money in your hands will you seriously just send a crazy [sic] dude with a knife or some home-made bomb? Don't you think there would be an utterly well-trained army, spy agencies and weapons firepower?’

The people who think in this 'conspiracy theory' style are not stupid - indeed this author would have to be stupid, having formerly been very invested in that viewpoint. It is a seemingly plausible way of understanding the world, and on occasion it works. But it is best not to jump to conclusions, even if they seem to scream out to us that they confirm our narrative.

Shared Humanity or Descent into Barbarism?

It would be good to remember where this kind of blanket hatred towards 'outsiders' can get us.

In 2016 the WSM reported on a racist attack where 3 Muslims youths in Rathfarnham, Dublin, including a 13-year-old, were attacked with metal bars and sent to hospital while the assailants shouted 'fucking Muslims … go back to your own country!'. A solidarity demonstration was quickly organised and local residents as well as other concerned people made it clear that the cowards didn't represent the majority view.

'There's no ambiguity about the racism of the attack (cf. Irish Times: 'apparent racist attack' and ''racist' attack') and it was of the utmost severity. Among other things, the attackers barked 'Why are you here? Go back to your country'. They told their victims they knew where they lived: 'I know you live in [estate]. You all live in [estate]'. And they made a direct threat on their lives: 'We’ll see you again. Go back to your own country. This is a warning, next time we’ll kill you. [Fucking Muslims]'.

Witnesses shouted at the thugs to stop, and took photos of them and their car (a blue Peugeot). After the attackers fled , witnesses came to the Ahmadzais to check if they were OK. An ambulance was called and all 3 of them were taken to hospital. The two uncles – having been beaten unconscious, including with iron bars - were transferred to the emergency department.'

There was another racist attack in June 2014 in Rathfarnham, where someone had attempted to set on fire the house of a black migrant from Germany. The attack, understandably, made him want to leave the country. A successful solidarity demonstration was also quickly organised in response.

The truth is that the fascists and far-right are only a tiny minority in this country, but their plan is to replicate themselves by making the majority as paranoid and spiteful as they are. They often brigade internet comment sections and present themselves as the 'silent majority', but we can still nip their poison ivy in the bud.

We have a choice over what direction we go down as a society. We can give in to fear and disgust, and our sense of being the 'in-crowd', blaming our problems on foreign looking scapegoats and venting our frustration at them. Or we can take a deep breath, and prize rationality and our shared humanity, resisting those who would pit us against each other, dissolving society into a sea of vitriol where baying mobs mutilate others with words and fists.

Everything leads somewhere. Option 1 left unchecked will likely lead to fascist rule. Part of the reason historically is that it is deeply convenient to the mega millionaires and billionaires who use the distraction to get on with their agenda of keeping us divided and staying in power and in kingly luxury. Option 2 is the only basis for a free society.

Today we must ask ourselves ‘what kind of a society do I want to live in?’.

No Cause for Panic

Here are some facts to put the Dundalk stabbings into context. This is important because there are far-right elements who want to bypass your reason and appeal only to fear, disgust, and selfishness. They’re not interested in facts, but rather ‘facts’ which support their narrative of scapegoating. This reaction can be summarised by a quote from a fascist group in Ireland: ‘There's that name again 'Mohammad'!’

They keep hitting you with this narrative that the Muslims are coming for you, the Muslims are coming for you, they’re savages, they’re going to destroy your culture and rape you and murder you and if you don’t do something now, if you don’t stop the Muslims right now, everything you know and love will be drenched in blood in the name of Islam. As Trump said about Mexicans ‘They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists.’

Unfortunately this narrative is boosted by the press, and not just the tabloid press, in their Faustian bargain to get as many page hits and paper sales as possible. As an example of mainstream media stirring the pot of fear, the front page headline of the Irish Times (Jan 4th, the day after the stabbings) read 'Garda look for terror link to Dundalk attacks'. There are two things to note there: 1) the front page treatment of the story, and 2) even though there was no evidence of a terrorist link, they decided to run that headline.

On the day of the stabbings, garda chief superintendent Christy Mangan stated at a press conference ‘we haven’t established a motive for the murder, or for two subsequent attacks’.

Did the Irish Times, and other major news outlets such The Journal, The Sun, and The Independent who similarly framed the story, pick that headline because it best summarised what we knew? Or did they pick it because it would shock people and make them want to buy their newspaper, to gossip with other people and to become obsessed with the story? What is the legitimate purpose of journalism, the first or the second? How about some rational thinking and a sense of proportion?

A Bit of Perspective

Let's introduce some rational thinking and a sense of proportion. To be very clear, none of the following is meant to trivialise the tragedy of the Dundalk attacks, not least the murder of a young man for no reason, who, we shall note here, was also an immigrant.

Road Deaths: In 2017 there were 158 deaths on roads in the south of Ireland. [1]

Gun Violence: Ireland’s murder rate is similar to other EU countries, but almost 40% of that is gun-violence – due to poverty and the criminalisation of drugs, and perhaps the legacy of the armed struggle against British colonialism here. [2]

Health Crisis: On the 3rd of January 2018 there were 677 people waiting for hospital beds. [3]

Climate: Three people died because of Storm Ophelia.

Homelessness: Almost 9,000 people in Ireland are homeless (not to mention the ‘hidden homeless’, which is much higher) [4] and 40-50 homeless people die each year on the streets, with at least 4 dying in one week, and with an average lifespan of 42. [5]

Suicide: The number of people killing themselves in Ireland has been 300-500 over the last 15 years. [6]

None of these problems are due to Muslims, Egyptians, migrants/refugees, foreigners, or brown-skinned people. The same far-right elements actually do blame the aforementioned for deprivation in healthcare and for homelessness. The numbers don’t bear this out at all, but rather than pointing to the greed inherent to this economic system they pick on marginalised groups.

The point is that they would blame road deaths and the weather on Muslims and migrants if they could get away with it. No doubt some far-right conspiracy theory has already done this. This will all too please the rich and privileged, enjoying the fact that our attention has been diverted from them and their role in reducing our quality of life.

In 2016, in Cavan, a man killed his wife and 4 children with a knife. The man was a white Irish Catholic who was well-to-do so it wasn’t called terrorism, not that it would have been correct to do so. Let’s keep our heads screwed on. We are all too intelligent to let ourselves get carried away by factually inaccurate stories designed to make us panic.

A Time to Reflect

Fingal County Cllr. Keith Redmond, who is far from left-wing, quite the opposite, yesterday tweeted:

‘Muslim girl I know was abused by a drunk on the Dart from Connolly to Malahide last night. Followed her carriage to carriage. No one said or did anything which is shameful. Men sat looking out the window. Poor reflection on us folks.’

Tragically, in a revenge attack in reaction to the Dundalk stabbings, some people attacked 4 nearby Syrian refugees, with one being hospitalised. There are real consequences to these stories, to this fear-mongering. The choice is ours which story we will believe and which we will spread. The WSM chooses common humanity, reason, and sticking it to those who really call the shots.


[1] http://www.rsa.ie/en/RSA/Road-Safety/Our-Research/Deaths-injuries-on-Irish-roads/
[2] https://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/latest-statistics-show-increase-in-gun-crime-1.2369732
[3] https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/trolley-crisis-record-numbers-awaiting-hospital-bed-1.3344315
[4] https://www.focusireland.ie/resource-hub/about-homelessness/
[5] http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/homeless-people-have-an-average-lifespan-of-just-42-422638.html
[6] http://www.nsrf.ie/statistics/suicide/