These shootings in Toulouse are unthinkably horrible. I honestly can’t begin to know what it must feel like for the families, or for the teachers, or for the whole city, and of course its Jewish community.
It’s the Jewish aspect that is particularly distressing. In Britain, and perhaps especially on the Left, we like to imagine that anti-Semitic attacks are a thing of a sordid past, expunged with Nazism in the fires of the Second World War. But they’re not; there were 270 recorded anti-Semitic incidents in this country in 2009 alone. In other European countries, it’s even more common.
In this country, the increase in anti-Semitism has been largely driven by the Muslim population. And you sense that commenters on both sides are gearing up for a battle over the French killings. I’ve seen on Twitter at least one Left-leaning commentator quickly blaming the “far Right”; meanwhile, lots of Right-wingers are blaming “radical Islamists” and “Muslims”.
As hideous as it is, the killings will provide political capital for someone. If it was a Muslim gunman, then people will use that as evidence for the failure of immigration policies, and the Left will be blamed; if it’s a far-Right extremist, then the moderate Right will be tainted by association. The finger-pointing blame game will begin at some stage. But for now, for just a few hours, while the sirens are probably still blaring in Toulouse and wounded children are being treated, can we all just agree that whoever did this – Muslim, neo-Nazi or garden-variety psychopath – is an extraordinarily evil person, and leave the political manoeuvring out of it.