Friday, May 24, 2013

Moral illiterates rush to blame the West for acts of domestic terrorism (Terry Glavin & Andrew Sullivan)


By now most people have probably heard about Wednesday's terrorist attack in Woolwich, South London.  Two Islamist attackers, British men with family origins in Nigeria, murdered and mutilated an off-duty, out-of-uniform British soldier who had served in Afghanistan. They ran him over with a car and then, surrounded by horrified onlookers, hacked at him with with meat cleavers, almost beheading him, with occasional shouts of "Allahu Akbar!".  Presumably they had targeted the victim specifically.  According to the Telegraph:
After the killing, one of the men, believed to be a British-born Muslim convert, spoke calmly into a witness’s video phone.

 Speaking with a London accent, holding a knife and a meat cleaver and with his hands dripping with blood, he said: “We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you until you leave us alone. Your people will never be safe. The only reason we have done this is because Muslims are dying by British soldiers every day.  We must fight them as they fight us. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. I apologise that women had to witness this today but in our lands our women have to see the same. You people will never be safe. Remove your government, they don’t care about you.  [....]  So get rid of them. Tell them to bring our troops back so we, so you can all live in peace."
In reality, the great majority of Muslim civilians killed in Afghanistan have been killed by jihadist fanatics like themselves, not by western troops.  So the "eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" justification for this attack is not attack is not just disgusting but absurd. Let me repeat that:  When jihadists like these two murder people in the US or Europe, they claim to be killing them as revenge for the deaths of Muslim civilians ... who have been killed by other jihadists like themselves.  Anyone who finds that kind of justification plausible or convincing needs his or her head examined.  And endorsing such justifications, or even taking them seriously, is stupid and pernicious.

The attack was clearly meant to shock and terrify, and it did succeed in shocking.  (It also seems to have offered a pretext for some attacks on mosques by xenophobic bigots from the so-called English Defense League.)  What's the right response to a deliberately spectacular atrocity like this, and what are the wrong responses?

=>  Terry Glavin gets to the heart of the matter. Who really shares the blame for propagating the canard that "Islam" and "the West" are engaged in a violent "conflict of civilizations" that justifies endless reprisal killings?
It has become a disgusting habit of contemporary journalism that every time some deranged yob goes off the deep end with a carving knife shouting Allahu akbar, a battalion of television crews surrounds and lays siege to the local mosque until heartfelt on-air disavowals and loud declarations of civic loyalty are extracted from whichever hapless imam happens to answer the doorbell.

This really needs to stop.

It is not the fault of the Muslim mainstream nor any gruesome network of dingbat back street ayatollahs that a commonplace trope of the popular culture insists that the so-called West is at war with the so-called Muslim World, and that consequently anytime some lunatic who thinks he’s a Muslim goes on a shooting or kettle-bombing spree in any one of the NATO countries, we should take it as form of understandable retaliation.

It is that caste of moral illiterates among the celebrity opinion-arbiters of the popular culture that has established this imbecility as, like, central to the discourse. If it’s grovelling apologies and pledges of fealty we want, we should be dragging them out of that crowd and giving our harmlessly devout Muslim neighbours a rest for once.

I mean, I ask you. Before the blood of 25-year-old Royal Fusilier Lee Rigby had even dried on that street in the South London borough of Woolwich Tuesday, the grotesque American gasbag Michael Moore was trying to make a cheap laugh out of it by being facetious with his 1.5 million plus Twitter followers: “I am outraged that we can’t kill people in other counties without them trying to kill us!”
[JW:  Actually, both of the murderers were British.  Neither of them came from a country where "we" are killing people.]
Here’s former London mayor Ken Livingstone doing exactly the same sort of thing. Building himself an escape route out of all the usual preamble stuffing — of course we support the police in their investigations, our thoughts are with the family, of course we are all outraged — Livingstone gives us this: “In 2002, before the invasion of Iraq, the security services warned the prime minister, Tony Blair, that this would make Britain a target for terrorist attacks. We are still experiencing the dreadful truth of this warning.”

Ian Leslie, author of Born Liars, Why We Can’t Live Without Deceit, answered Livingstone’s obscenity by usefully noticing that the great Muslim revenge orgy that Livingstone and his type have been predicting for the past decade or so has never materialized. All we have seen are such deranged losers as the Boston Marathon bombers and cretins with Sarf London accents and machetes and a rusted gun that didn’t work.

“The simple reason is that most Muslims, like most everyone, are not potential terrorists just waiting to be activated by the action of a government,” Leslie pointed out Thursday. “It takes Ken-levels of parochialism and self-obsession to imagine that they are.”

In the Guardian newspaper, that once-sturdy clarion of robust left-wing analysis, the American pseudo-progressive Glenn Greenwald offers up harmony to Livingstone’s melody line in a column that exploits the fuzzy timidities around the definition and the common use of the term “terrorism,” and he does so in such a way as to completely normalize what he claims is not merely “Muslim” violence, but justifiable Muslim violence.

“It is very hard to escape the conclusion that, operationally, the term has no real definition at this point beyond ‘violence engaged in by Muslims in retaliation against western violence toward Muslims’.”

Retaliation? Of course, the throat-clearing, the obligatory concession that “highlighting this causation doesn’t remotely justify the acts.”

Well, how nice to have that cleared up. But it is nonetheless “the causation” that Greenwald slips in without having the courage to make the case for it. The problem, the root cause, indeed the proximate cause is “western violence against Muslims.” There it is. It’s our fault.

Can you imagine some imam getting away with saying something like that? Of course you can’t. [....]
Glavin goes on to cite more examples, but let's just stop with the increasingly annoying and indefensible Glenn Greenwald.

Greenwald's characteristic knee-jerk response to acts of terrorism in the US or other western countries, which has now become almost boringly predictable, is to "explain" them by parroting the justifications offered by jihadist propaganda, making excuses for the perpetrators, denying that they're even terrorist attacks ... and then trying to pretend that he's not really justifying these terrorist attacks as acts of legitimate retaliation for "western violence against Muslims", only explaining their "causation".  This deeply dishonest pretense is starting to wear thin, even for some people who have admired Greenwald.

=>  Andrew Sullivan is one of those people.  He's always been sympathetic to Greenwald, despite recent qualms, but Greenwald's apologetics for the near-beheading in Woolwich finally drove Sullivan over the edge.  His response to Greenwald's misleading, fallacious, and morally reprehensible drivel says what needs to be said, so I don't feel the need to say it myself:
Greenwald refuses to label the beheading in London “terrorism,” calling it just another attempt to stir paranoia against Muslims:
[T]he term at this point seems to have no function other than propagandistically and legally legitimizing the violence of western states against Muslims while delegitimizing any and all violence done in return to those states …
I really have to try restrain my anger here. First off, Glenn’s adoption of the view that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan amounted to “continuous violence by western states against Muslim civilians” seems a new step toward the memes of Islamist propaganda. Does Glenn really believe that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, however flawed, were deliberate attempts to kill Muslim civilians, in the way al Qaeda deliberately targets and kills Muslim civilians?

If he does, then I beg to differ. The reason we invaded Afghanistan was not because we decided to launch a war on Islam. It was because wealthy, Islamist, hypocritical bigots launched an unprovoked Jihadist mass murder of Western innocents from a cell based in a country run by a regime that specialized and specializes in the mass murder of other Muslims.

Before 9/11, America had saved Muslims in the Balkans from Christianist fanatics. We helped liberate Muslims in Afghanistan from Soviet oppression. We continue to give vast amounts of money to Muslim countries like Egypt, and, because of our economic development and need for oil made multi-billionaires out of Saudi clerics. And the war against Saddam, though a criminal enterprise and strategic catastrophe, nonetheless removed one of the most vicious mass murderers of Muslims on the planet. And the sectarian murder of Muslims that followed, however the ultimate responsibility for the occupying forces, was not done by Westerners. It was done by Muslims killing Muslims. The West, moreover, is committed to removing its troops from Afghanistan by next year and is fast winding down drone strikes.

How can that legitimize a British citizen’s brutal beheading of a fellow British citizen on the streets of London? If we cannot call a man who does that in the name of God and finishes by warning his fellow citizens “You will never be safe” a terrorist, who would fit that description, apart, of course, in Glenn’s view, Barack Obama?

The barbarian with the machete was not born in a Muslim country or land. He was born in Britain, educated at Marshalls Park school in Romford and Greenwich University.

He does not have a history of concern with foreign policy – or even sensitivity toward the mass murder of Muslims. There is no record of his protest against the mass murders by the Taliban – because those kinds of murders of Muslims he approves of. He is a convert to the Sunni Islamism of Anjem Choudary, whose street thugs were involved in a melee in a London street only last week as they attacked and scuffled with Shi’a Muslims. Choudary’s group wants Sharia law imposed on the UK, a war against Shiites everywhere, the brutal subjugation of women, and suppression of every freedom Glenn cares about. The idea that this foul, religious bigotry – when it provokes its adherents to the kind of barbarism we saw two days ago – is some kind of legitimate protest against a fast-ending war is just perverse.

I want the war in Af-Pak to end. I agree that blowback is a real problem. I was horrified by the Iraq war. I remain appalled by GTMO and the legacy of torture. But I cannot defend any analysis of what happened in London as some kind of legitimate protest against Western foreign policy rather than terrorism in its most animal-like form, created and sustained entirely by religious fanaticism which would find any excuse to murder, destroy and oppress Muslims and non-Muslims in the name of God.

They did this before 9/11 and before our invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. They are doing it now in Syria in the name of the same God. These genocidal theocrats did not need to be spurred by the US and UK’s actions – although they can view those as a further inflammation.  [....]

I have to say I have always respected the sincerity and clarity of Greenwald’s critique of the war on terror. But his blindness to the savagery at the heart of Salafism is very hard to understand, let alone forgive.  [....]
—Jeff Weintraub