A Conservative MP regrets that ‘killing enemies’ has become ‘worryingly unpopular’

MP Johnny Mercer next to a US solider next to an explosion
Joshua Funnell

Conservative MP Johnny Mercer has posted a troubling tweet lamenting the current unpopularity of state violence.

The Plymouth Moor View MP is an ex-army captain and Afghanistan veteran who wrote the 2017 book We Were Warriors. And on 26 November, he tweeted:

A worryingly amoral argument

Mercer’s advocacy of violence raises a number of disturbing questions – whether this killing targets “enemies of the nation” or not. Because any civilised society should celebrate its population’s dislike for violence rather than lamenting it.

Yet Mercer’s views are hardly surprising. He recently described the White Poppy peace initiative, for example, as “attention seeking rubbish”. And earlier in the year, he called for Britain to “blitz” Syria with bombing raids.

Clearly a man of peace…

The recent record of British violence should give Mercer pause for thought

One would also hope that – considering the death toll inflicted by, and on, the British military contemporarily and historically – Mercer would pause before glorifying violence.

For example, 179 British servicemen and women died after the 2003 invasion of Iraq. And as of October 2015, 456 further servicemen in Afghanistan since 2001.

This, of course, is dwarfed by civilian deaths, at hundreds of thousands in Iraq and tens of thousands in Afghanistan.

Considering these body counts and the level of violence and mayhem, one must seriously question Mercer’s moral judgement. Because the public’s hostility to more killing is a healthy reaction to history, not a cause for concern.

When glorifying violence is acceptable

Mercer’s comments highlight the ease with which supporters of state violence can express their views without condemnation – something Twitter‘s guidelines on ‘glorifying violence’ actually enshrine by expressly excluding “acts of war”, “military attacks”, or “state-sanctioned executions”.

His argument could also be very dangerous. For example, his assertion that there’s “nothing wrong with fighting (yes killing) for values/what you believe in” could be a rallying cry for all political violence, terrorism, and human rights violations throughout human history. And although Mercer qualifies that he’s discussing violence in the name of “the oppressed/bullied/tormented/voiceless”, the fact is that many people pursuing political violence could claim to be helping the same groups.

The myth of moral British violence

Mercer’s argument also seems to assume that British state violence – or that which Britain’s allies perpetrate – is moral. Yet a quick glance at historian Mark Curtis’s book Web of Deceit shows that the “oppressed/bullied/tormented/voiceless” have frequently been the last concern of the British state. Indeed, in most cases British forces have been the oppressors, tormentors and bullies.

But after all, this is the same Johnny Mercer who in October 2016 voted against a motion to suspend government support for Saudi Arabia as they murdered and bullied Yemen’s civilians. And a quick search on Twitter shows a conspicuous absence of tweets about Saudi Arabia‘s devastating bombing campaign against Yemen. In fact, here he is showing the Saudi armed forces his support:

In short, it seems Mercer’s belief in state violence to help tormented civilians ceases when British strategic interests or those of arms dealers are at risk.

An army recruitment drive?

Lastly, and perhaps most chillingly, he concludes his tweet with:

Join the fight; best thing you’ll ever do.

This is all the more concerning as it comes within a tweet endorsing the “application of violence”. This makes the pursuit of righteous violence seem like a hook to attract recruits. And Mercer’s tweet has all the hallmarks of naked military recruitment propaganda.

People like Mercer are the ones we should really worry about

Nobody should ever be enthusiastic about violence, whether by the state or otherwise. And the normal disposition of any civilised peace-loving nation should be to find violence an unpopular idea.

All in all, Mercer’s disappointment at the public’s dislike of violence reveals more about his own moral failings than those of the public themselves.

Featured images by The U.S Army and YouTube

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  • Show Comments
    1. Ah another ex grunt glorifying war — ‘The oppressed/bullied/tormented/voiceless deserve it.’ — yet he supports a government that is causing untold suffering and multiple deaths in the disabled community — he supports a government that is facilitating the worst famine in modern times through support for the brutal Saudi regime — over 85,000 under 5’s have died of starvation in the last few years — typical hypocrisy from Johnny Mercer MP – standard practice from a Tory.

    2. Psychopaths like Mercer who are “fine” with the slaughter of their fellow man should take care. He might give some citizens the idea that adopting the same attitude towards the political killers (like himself) who initiate, direct and finance the kind of wars most of us hate and do not want to be involved in. as in …

      … Quote: “The application of violence to defeat the enemies of the nation (to some of us, the likes of Mercer) has become worryingly unpopular. Nothing wrong with fighting (yes killing) for values/what you believe in.

      I’m not the type to be so tempted but there will be some who might. Take care Mr Mercer. Karma is as pitiless as is it inevitable in this life or the next.

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