“Hilary Benn has quite a robust interpretation of the parable of the Good Samaritan. In his version, the Samaritan doesn’t just help the traveller who’s been mugged, he volunteers to seek out and blow the living crap out of the poor chap’s assailants, despite the obvious practical difficulties of knowing who they are and tracking them down. This is the Good Samaritan as played by Charles Bronson. But to do anything less, the shadow foreign secretary apparently believes – as revealed when he quoted the parable while urging his fellow MPs to bomb Syria last week — would be to “walk by on the other side of the road”.
Benn’s claim that only by releasing explosives over another large section of the Middle East are we truly respecting Jesus’s exhortation to love our neighbour as ourselves was the most ingenious piece of rhetoric in what has been quite the rhetorical purple patch for British politics.
Benn’s speech was full of gems, calling Isis (or IS or Isil or Daesh – there are almost as many words for it as there are for shagging) “fascists”. “They hold us in contempt. They hold our values in contempt… They hold our democracy… in contempt… And my view, Mr Speaker, is that we must now confront this evil.” Close your eyes and feel those Churchillian rhythms.
But Hilary didn’t have the monopoly on portentous utterances. Alan Johnson said there was “a real and present danger”. Another Labour MP, Dan Jarvis declared “there is still a dignity in uniting with our allies in common cause against a common enemy in defence of our common humanity”, a phrase he might have saved for when the House of Commons votes on a motion to fight back against the Martians.”
David Mitchell, The airstrikes debate: once more unto the breach– of good taste, Guardian