There is a somewhat silly and simplistic philosophical and cod-psychological view which holds that dislike and prejudice flow from an irrational fear of “the Other.” How then should we explain those who refuse to acknowledge the danger, or even the presence of “the Other.” Perhaps they have the greatest fear.
On Any Questions last weekend the first question asked the reason for modern terrorism. It was almost amusing to witness the contortions of the panel, three professional politicians and a novelist, but give them their due they managed to discuss modern terrorism entirely without using the words “Islam” or “Muslim.” Even when the Islamic “Other” has bombed and murdered fellow citizens in New York, London and Madrid it remains the elephant in the room.
Governments on both sides of the Atlantic are almost pathologically unable to use the term “Muslim terrorism.” Perhaps the prime example of this are the bizarre contortions of the various branches of the American government following the Fort Hood massacre. White House, Department of Justice and Army spokesmen went to ludicrous lengths to avoid saying that a Muslim terrorist slaughtered 13 American service personnel and tried to kill another 32. Perhaps General George W Casey the Chief of Staff earned the prize for bending over backwards when he announced that his concern was that the event might cause a backlash against Muslims.
Think what happened over a cartoon and imagine what the Muslim world would do over a 9/11 type attack on Mecca or Islamabad. The reaction of the mass of the population in the USA to murderous assaults has been remarkably restrained, mainly due to their Christian heritage. Perhaps we have greater trust in the good sense of the American people than their leaders.
The persistent refusal to admit the cold light of reality into the discussion resembles nothing so much as the devious prevarications and outright dissembling of the not so far left in 1939. With the advent of the Nazi/USSR pact staunch left wingers, and not all of them communist, flipped overnight from being strident anti-fascists to realising that Hitler wasn’t such a bad chap after all and the real enemy of the people was Churchill and his government. Those who began as stanch defenders of human rights ended up defending tyrants and totalitarian mass murderers. All this in the midst of a war the UK was in very real danger of losing.
The spirit of 1939 lives on. The “Index on Censorship” was founded in 1972 to campaign for freedom of speech. In 2004 Rohan Jayasakera the Deputy CEO laid the reason for the murder of film maker Theo Van Gogh squarely on the victim. The fault did not lie with a murderous knife wielding Islamic fundamentalist and the ideology which motivated him to take censorship to its ultimate conclusion. Rather the fault lay with the film maker who had highlighted the subjugation of women in Islam and was therefore “a free speech fundamentalist.”
Earlier this year Gita Sahgal head of Amnesty Internationl’s gender unit felt forced to resigne because she thought Amnesty were putting the human rights of Al Qaeda terrorists before the rights of their victims.
Radical Muslims are not at war because of Bush, Blair, Iraq or Afghanistan, these are only the presenting symptoms. They wish to destroy a civilisation which holds to values born of the Reformation and Enlightenment, values they despise. We do not buy into their tyrannical value system, and they hate that. Radical Islamists will mount attacks whenever we refuse to accede to their demands. As long as we insist on remaining free from theocracy we will be a target.
It is folly to treat radical Islam as a bunch of confused and disaffected youths who because of the wicked West have gone a step further in their interpretation of Islam than others and who should be treated with sympathetic understanding. The global franchise of Al Qaeda and its network of affiliates and apologists do not care whether we offer them an open hand or a clenched fist. They do not care if you are a dove or a hawk, a moderate Muslim or a Methodist, British, American, or French.
Progressives, liberals, socialists, neo-Protestant Christians, none of the apologists for radical Islam could hope to flourish in an Islamic environment. The adherents of an ideology which is determined to triumph has declared war on us, and history teaches that appeasement doesn’t work.