Barack Obama called the murder of Lee Rigby “senseless violence.” Nile Gardiner reminds us that Obama also called the invasion of our Benghazi consulate and the murder of our Ambassador: “senseless violence.”
In roughly the same way his administration has declared that Major Hasan’s Fort Hood massacre was “workplace violence.”
At times, Obama does call terrorism by its name, but since he just ended the War on Terror, he must prefer to think of terrorists as common criminals.
As you know, the terrorists do not see themselves to be common criminals. They see themselves as fighters in a Holy War against the West. They are proud Muslims and are perpetrating violence to defend their faith and their honor. To them, these acts are anything but “senseless.” They are filled with meaning.
When Obama calls it “senseless violence” he is denouncing what happened without saying that these jihadist acts have anything to do with Islam.
If they do, it behooves Muslim leaders to apologize. If they do not, they Muslim leaders should denounce them in no uncertain terms.
If these are merely criminal acts, we need but punish the perpetrators. Only those who commit crimes are punished for them.
If they are acts of terror, constables and prosecutors are not going to stop them. These acts will continue as long as those who commit them believe that they enhance pride, and as long as the leaders of their faith refuse to apologize.
A culture that accepts “honor killings” of its own children is not going to worry about killing someone else’s children. If so, then all the prosecutions in the world are not going to stop the tide of Islamic terror.
Muslim leaders have learned that they need to denounce the actions of the London killers, as well as the actions of the Tsarnaev brothers in Boston. Thereby, they can try to dissociate their religion and their community from these actions and relegate them to the work of a few petty criminals.
Others, like Ruslan Tsarni, uncle of the Tsarnaev brothers felt obliged to apologize for what his nephews had done. As I mentioned at the time, Uncle Ruslan was among the very few who had the right idea.
In part, it’s about numbers. Do the terrorists who kill, maim and mutilate in the name of Islam represent the religion or are they extremist fanatics who have taken leave of the central teachings of their religion.
Of course, the vast majority of the world’s Muslims do not engage in terrorism. And yet, when the majority of the citizens of Egypt give political power to the Muslim Brotherhood, one doubts whether very many Muslims are horrified that their religion has been hijacked by a band of fanatics. If so, they keep it to themselves.
Andrew McCarthy explains that the London jihadists have good Quranic justification for what they did:
After killing and mutilating a British soldier, one of the jihadists, blood still soaking his hands, proudly looked into a camera and proclaimed, “We are forced by the Koran, in Sura al-Tawba, through many ayah in the Koran, we must fight them as they fight us.”
Sura al-Tawba is the Koran’s ninth chapter, home to what are known as the verses of the sword. Time after time, Muslims are instructed to slaughter their enemies. “Kill the polytheists wherever you find them.” “Fight those who do not believe in Allah” until they submit to the law of Islam. “Fight . . . the disbelievers and let them find in you harshness.” On it goes.
Islamic supremacism teaches that Muslims are under a divine injunction to fight non-Muslims, including by violent jihad, until all the world submits to sharia (the path), Allah’s blueprint for the perfect human society. It is true that of the world’s hundreds of millions of Islamic supremacists, only a small percentage (though still a high number in absolute terms) are “extreme” enough to engage in violence. Yet all of them share the violent jihadists’ goals, and they endorse the violence itself in many, if not most, instances.
Many Muslims believe that sharia law should be imposed on the world. They are happy to vote to have it imposed on their own cultures. They might not agree with terrorism as a means, but they have no problem with the goal.
It is fair to say that if we were to take every statement in the Bible literally, we would be led to commit some rather heinous actions. But is, no one takes all Biblical injunctions as actionable. No Jew or Christian has stoned an adulterer in millennia. The same cannot be said of Muslims.
On the other side of the debate we find Glenn Greenwald, writing in the London Guardian. His reasoning is astonishingly warped, so it deserves some attention.
Greenwald states clearly that murdering a soldier with a meat cleaver on a London street was appalling. He is strongly opposed to such acts of “senseless violence.”
Count Greenwald in the crime and punishment camp.
Then, his mind goes off the rails. He asserts that the action was an act or war, and thus no different from any other acts of war committed by America and England:
First, given that the person killed was not a civilian but a soldier of a nation at war (using US standards), it is difficult to devise a definition of "terrorism" that encompasses this attack while excluding large numbers of recent acts by the US, the UK and many of their allies and partners.
By this reasoning, Major Nidal Hasan was also committing an act of war when he gunned down uniformed military personnel at Fort Hood.
In his righteous zeal to smear American and British troops, Greenwald neglects the fact that the jihadists who murdered Lee Rigby were citizens of Great Britain.
If their acquired identity as Muslims turned them against their own nation, they were committing treason. The same applies to Major Hasan.
Also, the soldier who was killed on a London street was not killed on the battlefield. If a terrorist murders a soldier who is sitting down to dinner with his family, would you say that murdering his family was an act of terror while murdering him was an act of war?
By Greenwald’s logic, blowing up the World Trade Center was an act of terror. Running a plane into the Pentagon was not.
But if the jihadists committed an act of war, why should it be denounced as heinous?
According to Greenwald, Muslim acts of war, which Muslims call jihad are a rational response to American and British incursions into Muslim lands. He does not mention the existence of Israel, but anyone else, following the chain of his argument would happily brand Israel an aggressor nation with Muslim blood on its hands.
Greenwald is at pains to note that even if he understands perfectly why Muslims are seething with a righteous anger that was clearly provoked by Western incursions into their land, he is not in any way rationalizing what happened on the London street.
Greenwald then indulges an orgy or moral equivalence. However bad Muslim terrorism is, America and its allies have done as much, if not worse. We have no right to judge others when they are merely responding to the horrors that we inflicted on them. Instead of denouncing terrorism we should flagellate ourselves for our own crimes.
Before wading into Greenwald’s fever swamp, let us recall Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement:
If the Arabs put down their weapons today, there would be no more violence. If the Jews put down their weapons today, there would be no more Israel.
Keep that in mind when you are tempted by the lure of moral equivalence.
Greenwald presents his idea:
Labeling the violent acts of those Muslim Others as "terrorism" - but never our own - is a key weapon used to propagate this worldview. The same is true of the tactic that depicts their violence against us as senseless, primitive, savage and without rational cause, while glorifying our own violence against them as noble, high-minded, benevolent and civilized (we slaughter them with shiny, high-tech drones, cluster bombs, jet fighters and cruise missiles, while they use meat cleavers and razor blades). These are the core propagandistic premises used to sustain the central narrative on which the War on Terror has depended from the start (and, by the way, have been the core premises of imperialism for centuries). That is why those most invested in defending and glorifying this War on Terror become so enraged when those premises are challenged, and it's why they feel a need to use any smears and distortions (he's justifying terrorism!) to discredit those who do.
Their violence; our violence. It’s all the same.
Of course, it’s not all the same. It takes an amazing level of moral obtuseness to fail to recognize that the attacks on America were fundamentally unprovoked and had as their purpose the shoring up of the pride of a failing culture.
Instead of obsessing about drone attacks in Pakistan, Greenwald would have done better to recognize what America has accomplished… economically, politically and socially.
Liberal democracy, free speech and free expression, freedom of religion, human rights, women’s rights, gay rights, free enterprise… none of these are accepted under sharia law. Ask yourself this: are they or are they not worth defending?
If a Muslim converts to Christianity, sharia law says that he must be executed. If Greenwald’s delicate sensibility cringes at the idea of calling that or honor killings or systematic female genital mutilation or executing homosexuals savagery then how does he expect that those who practice them will ever find the willpower to stop doing them. If they are not savagery are they just another lifestyle choice?
Greenwald is offended to see that Americans believe that their civilization is superior to others. Of course, it is. That’s what it means to be the most powerful and most prosperous nation on earth.
Surely, Greenwald would prefer to live in America where food is plentiful than in the Muslim Brotherhood-led Egypt where people barely have food. Surely, he considers himself fortunate to live in a nation where he can express his opinions freely without having to worry about anything worse than the ire of Andrew Sullivan. Does he honestly believe that there is no difference between enjoying the freedoms provided by America and trying to express his opinions openly and honestly in Gaza?
Of course, if you ask Greenwald or anyone of his ilk to explain this, they will happily tell you that the serial failures of the Muslim world are the fault of Western imperialism and colonialism.
You know, like the former colony of Singapore.