Sunday, July 17, 2005

Opinions on the Terrorist Psyche

A recent post called Down with Diversity (7/8/05) looked at the dangers of multiculturalism that has infected the West, including the horrific bombings in London on July 7. It appears that some find my commentary to be insensitive to Muslims and overcritical of Europeans. I’ll take that up another day. Today I will bolster my commentary with recent published opinions from noted political writers in well respected news outlets.

Kenan Malik, London Times: One was a loving father. Another helped out in his parents’ fish and chip shop. The shoe bomber Richard Reid was brought up in South London. His fellow conspirator Sajid Badat was born in Britain and educated at the prestigious Crypt Grammar School. Ahmed Omar Sheikh, convicted of the murder of the American journalist Daniel Pearl, was educated at the London School of Economics. Asif Hanif and Omar Sharif, the two Britons who carried out a suicide bombing mission in Israel, became friends at university. The most detailed study of al- Qaeda supporters shows that the majority are middle-class with good jobs. Most are college-educated, usually in the West. Less than one in ten have been to religious school. Why has radical Islam found a hearing in Britain? Partly, it is because the idea that we should aspire to a common identity and a set of values has been eroded in the name of multiculturalism. Today many young British Muslims identify more with Islam than with Britain primarily because there no longer seems much that is compelling about being British. And without anything to believe in, without moral restraints or the sense of responsibility to a cause or to a people, the unthinkable becomes possible. As in London nine days ago.

Thomas Friedman, New York Times: Why are young Sunni Muslim males, from London to Riyadh and Bali to Baghdad, so willing to blow up themselves and others in the name of their religion? Neither we nor the Muslim world can run away from this question any longer. "Some of these young Muslim men are tempted by a civilization they consider morally inferior, and they are humiliated by the fact that, while having been taught their faith is supreme, other civilizations seem to be doing much better." This is not about the poverty of money. This is about the poverty of dignity and the rage it can trigger.

Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post: The most remarkable discovery is that Europe's second- and third-generation Muslim immigrants are more radicalized than the first. The fact that native-born Muslim Europeans are committing terrorist acts in their own countries shows that this Islamist malignancy long predates Iraq, Afghanistan and Sept. 11, 2001. What Europe had incubated is an enemy within, a threat that for decades Europe simply refused to face. British Islamists had spoken of a "covenant of security" under which Britain would be spared Islamic terrorism so long as it allowed radical clerics free rein. One of the reasons Westerners were so unprepared for this wave of Islamist terrorism is sheer disbelief. It is a return to a primitiveness that we in the West had assumed history had left behind. Decadence is defined not by a civilization's art or music but ultimately by its willingness to simply defend itself.

Times of London: Common to all Islam is a familiar list of timeless and actual Muslim grievances, the sense of a religion under assault combined with a sense of lost glory, and what begins to emerge is a liberation theology. In its extreme form this combines a virulent Islamist "nationalism" with a civilisational war to recover all the lands of Islam and cleanse them of the taint of the infidels and their "apostate" puppets. This is a battle between freedom and a form of totalitarianism that could easily last a generation. Defending our freedoms is the only way we will defeat it.
David Gelernter, Los Angeles Times: London's mayor, Ken Livingstone, condemned the recent terrorist bombings. But in the past, he never seemed too concerned about terrorists murdering Israelis. The tale of Livingstone's ambivalence is a sordid kind of Greek tragedy. Last year, he welcomed a violently Jew-hating Muslim preacher to London. In so doing, he became a silent partner of Islamic terrorism — which has now turned against his own city. Today, he is an updated Oedipus Rex, accessory to a horrible crime of which he himself is a victim. Too many Europeans are ambivalent, like Livingstone. Terrorists, they figure, are evil; but if their preferred victims are Jews and Americans, how bad can they really be? As Europe prepares its own destruction, it resembles Germany in the early 1930s: Jew-hatred everywhere, on a low boil. But now London's mayor might think twice before welcoming another theologian of terror. The theologians themselves should carry government health labels. "Warning: Terrorists don't only kill Jews."

Gerard Baker, London Times: Right after September 11, a question widely asked in the media was: Why do they hate us? It was not, to be sure, the first question out of the mouths of most Americans. That question was: “What are their names and addresses and how quickly can we dispatch a B52 to their neighbourhood?” A week after July 7, I have the same question. Why do they hate us? But the “they” of my question are not the al-Qaeda slaughterers, but the massed ranks of so many British opinion-formers. The common thought behind them is essentially this: our nation’s military action in Afghanistan and Iraq is morally indistinguishable from the terrorists, so don’t call one, terrorism, and not the other. Instead, say London and Baghdad have both been “bombed”. This English self-loathing would be less objectionable if it had not been so prominent in its less virulent form, in so much British policy and public life, for the past 60 years. It was the driving force behind the misguided anything-goes multiculturalism of the 1960s and 1970s and the desire to shed vestiges of British or English nationalism within the European Union for 40 years now.

Leon de Winter, New York Times: For centuries the Netherlands has been considered the most tolerant and liberal nation in the world. That Netherlands no longer exists. The murder last year of the filmmaker Theo van Gogh and the assassination of the politician Pim Fortuyn in 2002 marked the end of the Holland of Erasmus and Spinoza. But these killings showed the cumulative effect of two forces that have shaken the foundations of Dutch civic society over the last 40 years: the cultural and sexual revolution of the 1960's and 70's and the influx of Muslim workers during those years of prosperity. Hence the current image of Dutch tolerance: marijuana served at coffee shops, public television showing full nudity and, for those who prefer not to work, a government package of benefits that makes a toil-free life entirely feasible. Theo van Gogh, artiste provocateur nonpareil had focused increasingly on the problems with immigration and with Muslim intolerance. Many of these young men have found an expression for their growing sense of frustration, alienation and anger in orthodox Islam. They have no use for Holland's tolerance of alternative lifestyles, or for its professional blasphemers. Last November a young Islamic fundamentalist born in Amsterdam shot Mr. Van Gogh in the street and then tried to cut off his head.

Victor Davis Hansen, National Review Online: Failed states in the Middle East — autocratic, statist, unfree, intolerant of women and other religions — blame the West for their self-inflicted miseries. Sometimes they are theocratic, like the Iranian mullahs, but always they are dictatorial like the Syrians, Pakistanis, Saudis, or Egyptians, who have come to accommodations with the terrorists to shift popular anguish onto the West and the Jews. To criticize Islamic fascism is supposedly to be unfair to Islam, so we allow on our own shores mullahs and madrassas to spread hatred and intolerance, as part of our illiberal acceptance of “not offending Islam.” It is our task, each of us according to our station, to speak the truth to all these falsehoods, and remember that we did not inherit a wonderful civilization just to lose it to the Dark Ages.

Victor Davis Hansen, National Review: Our first hindrance is moral equivalence. For the hard Left there is no absolute right and wrong since amorality is defined arbitrarily and only by those in power. Taking back Fallujah from beheaders and terrorists is no different from bombing the London subway since civilians may die in either case. A half-dozen roughed up prisoners in Guantanamo are the same as the Nazi death camps or the Gulag. Our second shackle is utopian pacifism — ‘war never solved anything’ and ‘violence only begets violence.’ Thus it makes no sense to resort to violence, since reason and conflict resolution can convince even a bin Laden to come to the table. The third restraint is multiculturalism or the idea that all social practices are of equal merit. Who are we to generalize that the regimes and fundamentalist sects of the Middle East result in economic backwardness, intolerance of religious and ethnic minorities, gender apartheid, racism, homophobia, and patriarchy?

Diana West, Washington Times: Only one faith on earth may be more messianic than Islam: multiculturalism. Without its fanatics who believe all civilizations are the same, the engine that projects Islam into the unprotected heart of Western civilization would stall and fail. It's as simple as that. Notice I didn't say "Islamists" or "Islamofascists" or "fundamentalist extremists." I think such terms allow us all to give a wide berth to a great problem: the gross incompatibility of Islam — the religious force that shrinks freedom even as it "moderately" enables, or "extremistly" advances jihad — with the West.

Ed Koch, New York Times: Make no mistake: It is a “War of Civilizations.” The various terrorist organizations are overwhelmingly Muslim and they are supported by millions of Muslims around the world who are bent on destroying Western civilization and Christians, Jews and those Muslims who believe in the Western values of democracy and tolerance.

Finally, this from the dark side in Detroit.

Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi, Detroit Free Press: The bloody attack on July 7 in London was a warning to the world to wake up against the evil of terrorism in all its forms. We, the imams of the Michigan mosques, gathered in Dearborn last week to condemn the recent crime in London and to announce anything harmful to human society is forbidden in Islam. We want everybody to know that al-Qaida is not a spokesman for the 1.2 billion peace-loving Muslims of the world. The question is, how Iraq became a training center for so-called jihadists and how the British became bombers? Some unthoughtful words by the President and some irresponsible statements by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld -- combined with the scandals at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and the Guantanamo detention center -- helped al-Qaida recruit more extremists to its army. And as long as Jews can immigrate to Israel by the tens of thousands each year while Palestinians stay hungry and homeless, I am afraid this will contribute to the violence in the Middle East and elsewhere.


Anonymous Pamela Cleveland said...

Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi words are chilling! He gives a pointblank warning to Jews and Americans:continue to do as you have been doing and you will swim in more blood.He did not condemn the terrorists of his religion! He told us how we will be contributing to more violence!

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