We are at war, and yet some people can’t seem to understand it. To them, it’s all a matter of temporary, sporadic incidents of varying intensity that roll on to other places, like a bout of bad weather.
On yesterday’s averted attack in London, the NYT article, 5 Shots in a Train Car Leave Londoners Shaken, quotes a Londoner saying,
“I wonder why London is different to New York and Madrid, why is it being sustained here?” said Patricia Mitchell, 35, a call-center worker. “I’m wondering if it’s an easier target. It feels like London has a lot more people and a lot more public transport. But I was completely surprised. I totally thought it was going to be an attack on London and then they move on to another city.”
Victor Davis Hanson asks, And Then They Came After Us: We’re at war. How about acting like it?
Apparently, the hatred of radical Islam was not just predicated on the “occupation” of the West Bank. Instead it involved the pretexts of Americans protecting Saudi Arabia from another Iraqi attack, the United Nations boycott of Iraq, the removal of the Taliban and Saddam, and always as well as the Crusades and the Reconquista.
But Europe was supposedly different. Unlike the United States, it was correct on the Middle East, and disarmed after the Cold War. Indeed, the European Union was pacifistic, socialist, and guilt-ridden about former colonialism.
Hundreds of thousands of Muslims were left alone in unassimilated European ghettoes and allowed to preach or promulgate any particular hatred of the day they wished. Conspire to kill a Salmon Rushdie, talk of liquidating the “apes and pigs,” distribute Mein Kampf and the Protocols, or plot in the cities of France and Germany to blow up the Pentagon and the World Trade Center — all that was about things “over there” and in a strange way was thought to ensure that Europe got a pass at home.
But the trump card was always triangulation against the United States. Most recently anti-Americanism was good street theater in Rome, Paris, London, and the capitals of the “good” West.
But then came Madrid — and the disturbing fact that after the shameful appeasement of its withdrawal from Iraq, further plots were hatched against Spanish justices and passenger trains.
Surely a Holland would be exempt — Holland of wide-open Amsterdam fame where anything goes and Muslim radicals could hate in peace. Then came the butchering of Theo Van Gogh and the death threats against parliamentarian Hirsi Ali — and always defiance and promises of more to come rather than apologies for their hatred.
Yet was not Britain different? After all, its capital was dubbed Londonistan for its hospitality to Muslims across the globe. Radical imams openly preached jihad against the United States to their flock as thanks for being given generous welfare subsidies from her majesty’s government. But it was the United States, not liberal Britain, that evoked such understandable hatred.
After Holland, Madrid, and London, European operatives go to Israel not to harangue Jews about the West Bank, but to receive tips about preventing suicide bombings. And the cowboy Patriot Act to now-panicked European parliaments perhaps seems not so illiberal after all.
So it is was becoming clear that butchery by radical Muslims in Bali, Darfur, Iraq, the Philippines Thailand, Turkey, Tunisia, and Iraq was not so tied to particular and “understandable” Islamic grievances.
Perhaps the jihadist killing was not over the West Bank or U.S. hegemony after all, but rather symptoms of a global pathology of young male Islamic radicals blaming all others for their own self-inflicted miseries, convinced that attacks on the infidel would win political concessions, restore pride, and prove to Israelis, Europeans, Americans — and about everybody else on the globe — that Middle Eastern warriors were full of confidence and pride after all.
Meanwhile an odd thing happened. It turns out that the jihadists were cowards and bullies, and thus selective in their targets of hatred. A billion Chinese were left alone by radical Islam — even though the Chinese were secularists and mostly godless, as well as ruthless to their own Uighur Muslim minorities. Had bin Laden issued a fatwa against Beijing and slammed an airliner into a skyscraper in Shanghai, there is no telling what a nuclear China might have done.
India too got mostly a pass, other than the occasional murdering by Pakistani zealots. Yet India makes no effort to apologize to Muslims. When extremists occasionally riot and kill, they usually cease quickly before the response of a much more unpredictable angry populace.
What can we learn from all this?
Hanson points to three items:
Almost no secular Middle Easterners or religious officials write or state flatly, “Islamic terrorism is murder, pure and simple evil. End of story, no ifs or buts about it.”
Second, thinking that the jihadists will target only Israel eventually leads to emboldened attacks on the United States. Assuming America is the only target assures terrorism against Europe. Civilizations will either hang separately or triumph over barbarism together. It is that simple — and past time for Europe and the United States to rediscover their common heritage and shared aims in eradicating this plague of Islamic fascism.
Third, Islamicists are selective in their attacks and hatred. So far global jihad avoids two billion Indians and Chinese, despite the fact that their countries are far tougher on Muslims than is the United States or Europe. In other words, the Islamicists target those whom they think they can intimidate and blackmail.
In another article, Hanson says Enough is enough:
Civilization has only two choices. It can continue appeasing these murderers, looking in vain for “root causes” of the mayhem. Maybe Mohammed Bouyeri did not have equal opportunity in the Netherlands? Maybe $50 billion in past American aid to Mohamed Atta’s Egypt was too little? Maybe Britain was too insensitive to its Muslim minorities? Maybe the price paid for Middle East oil really is too low?
Or the United States and its allies can deny suspect Middle Eastern males entry into the West while distancing themselves from all Middle East dictatorships, which neither punish nor even shame thousands of their citizens whose money and psychological support fuel murderers across the globe.
We wait for a Western leader with the intellectual integrity and guts at last to say, “Enough is enough”.