Thursday, May 23, 2013

On Fibbing About Terrorism And Badgering "The Muslims."

From my Ottawa Citizen page.

Alan Johnson is quite right, of course. It shouldn't take a couple of deranged yobs howling Allahu Akbar and hacking to death the 25-year-old Royal Fusilier Lee Rigby in broad daylight on Wednesday in the South London borough of Woolwich to make it obvious. "We need to discuss the elephant in the room – the radical and sectarian, often violent, and sometimes fascistic political ideology and global movement of Islamism. Why? Because we are fighting against a religiously inspired ideology, jihadism, but we don't want to talk about religion."
This reluctance to get serious about that conversation is the source of so much fuzziness and reticence and timidity about the intimately related matter of "terrorism." I've been banging on about this dangerous incoherence for quite some time and I touched on the subject again only a couple of weeks ago in the Ottawa Citizen. Just for starters, in Canada's case, Section 83.01(1)(b) of the Criminal Code fails to distinguish between acts of violence that are unambiguously intended for terrorist mayhem and legitimate acts of revolutionary violence necessary to the purpose of regime change in state-terrorist tyrannies like that of Syria's Bashar al-Assad. There is a difference.
Ever since September 11 there has been a legitimate argument about which is more destructive to open societies: the menace of Johnson's "often violent and sometimes fascistic political ideology" that usually goes by the name terrorism, or the craven and supine apologetics for Islamist crackpotism that form such central motifs of liberal establishment opinion about it. 
In my Ottawa Citizen column today I notice how moral illiteracy defines the way such reliably creepy arbiters of hip opinion as the Guardian's Glenn Greenwald and the American celebrity bullshit artist Michael Moore are responding to the Woolwich atrocity. Michael Moore tries to get a laugh out of his Twitter followers about it, in his usual cheap and vulgar way, but it is only the fuzzy timidities around the definition and the common use of the term “terrorism” that allow Greenwald to so easily and completely normalize what he presents as perfectly understandable Muslim revenge violence.
The "causation" that Greenwald slips in without having the courage to make the case for it, the root cause, indeed the proximate cause of Wednesday's atrocity, is “western violence against Muslims.” There it is. Wednesday's outage was retaliation. It's "our" fault, because "we" have been so mean to "them." Can you imagine some Etobicoke imam getting away with saying something like that? Of course you can’t. He'd be run out of town on a bus by the good Muslims of Etobicoke. 
I'm not so certain that occasional security lapses with tragic consequences are really the greater threat to our civil liberties and our sovereignty than demands for our outright capitulation all trussed up to look cool and sophisticated, as in this 2010 Haroon Siddiqui homily under the helpfully brazen headline To tackle domestic terrorism, end foreign wars. I've always thought it strange that the Toronto Star will shout and yell about the privatization of government services, but subcontracting Canada's foreign policy to the Toronto 18? Hey, we're cool with that.
My case is that it's not "the Muslims" who have any explaining to do about the commonplace trope that the so-called West is at war with the so-called Muslim World, and that anytime some depraved and bloodthirsty lunatic who fancies himself as an aggrieved Muslim goes on a rampage in any one of the NATO countries we should take it as understandable, which is to say rational, behaviour. It is mainly that caste of moral illiterates among the celebrity opinion-arbiters of popular culture that has established this imbecility as, like, central to the discourse, man. It's that lot that has some explaining to do. We might badger them for a change and give our innocently devout Muslim neighbours a rest for once, is my point.
Alan Johnson is quite right. It's just that the question isn't about Islam so much as it is about Islamism, which almost always takes on some form of terrorism. It's not about "us" versus some Muslim "them."
Johnson: "One of the fruits of globalisation is that the walls separating what concerns "us" from what concerns "them" have tumbled down. We are all "us", now. The global is local. Woolwich made plain that the fear and the violence and the grieving that has spilled over from what the Muslim political scientist Bassam Tibi calls "Islam's predicament with modernity" are now also ours to bear, and they will borne also by our children and our grandchildren. No more changing the subject."
And no more excuse-making for wanton barbarism, either. 

2 Comments:

Blogger KURSK said...

"Can you imagine some Etobicoke imam getting away with saying something like that? Of course you can’t. He'd be run out of town on a bus by the good Muslims of Etobicoke"

Why, yes I can Terry..and there is no chance in hell that his followers would run him out of town: in fact, I bet that many would willingly nod their head in agreement.

2:53 PM  
OpenID whiskyandtea said...

Re Greenwald - it's incredible how lefties who would oppose, say, capital punishment find and deem it totally immoral would have no problem in "explaining" terrorism.

And explanations dressed in euphemism, of course,

5:16 PM  

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