Friday, July 08, 2005

Terror Apologists

Here is a notable excerpt from today's lead editorial in the Pakistani daily, The News:

While a change in the global strategy is required to tackle the root causes of terrorism, the kind of vulnerability that the British people must now be feeling after being targeted may also translate into more pressure on the re-elected Labour government to reconsider its global anti-terrorism positioning. There have been strong demands in the country for the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq, a war that a huge number of people in Britain consider as unjust, as evidenced by the hundreds of thousands who have marched in London against the US-British invasion of that country in March 2003. Although the Labour Party emerged victorious in the general election last month, it lost a sizeable portion of its majority in the House of Commons amid a clear divide among the British voters over Blair's Iraq policy.

In effect, the writer hopes for British capitulation in the face of terror. Given where it has been written, it surely constitutes mainstream public opinion in Pakistan. How could there be peace -- ever -- with a people such as this?


Abe said...

"While a change in the global strategy is required to tackle the root causes of terrorism, the kind of vulnerability that the British people must now be feeling after being targeted may also translate into more pressure on the re-elected Labour government to reconsider its global anti-terrorism positioning."

This type of nonsense only strengthens our resolve. These people are never able to aptly explain the root causes of terrorism. Terrorism hurts global economies, negatively impacting imports and investments in developing countries. Terrorism often results in further support for Isreal. Terrorists are often wealthy or not-poor. It serves no purpose other than the killing of innocents.

history_lover said...

Old Article but relevant by an american convert to Islam .


Making the World Safe
for Terrorism
Nuh Ha Mim Keller - Sunday 30 September

In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate

By what one can gather from the press, the FBI and CIA have seemingly been unable to prove who precisely, if anyone, may have masterminded the attack earlier this month on the World Trade Center other than the immediate assailants, who are presumed to have been several young men from Saudi Arabia and one from the
United Arab Emirates. Whoever they were, the facts point to a number of inescapable conclusions. The
planning of it argues for a method to the madness, coupled with at least normal intelligence and a
technical education, while the psychological facts entail that such people do not destroy themselves unless they see some advantage for themselves in doing
so, which entails that they believed in an afterlife, meaning that according to their own standards, they were in all probability religious. The question arises: What sort of religion condones killing
thousands of ordinary civilian people? The answer is
No religion at all.

As far as I know, there is no religion or system of morality that justifies deliberately killing or injuring someone unless (1) he is an aggressor seeking
to take ones life, against whom one may defend oneself; (2) he has been proven to be guilty of a
capital crime, or (3) he is a combatant in war. Most ethical systems agree upon these three justifications for deliberately inflicting death or injury upon
someone. The World Trade Center tragedy raises the question of what on earth may have made some
contemporary people think that these principles may be
set aside?

If there are altogether no moral reasons for this crime, there is perhaps a discoverable mentality
behind it. We call it terrorism, in view of its typical motive, which is to strike terror into the
hearts of those conceived to be guilty by committing atrocities against those of the innocent who resemble the guilty closely enough, whether in race,
citizenship, or social class, for the terror not to be lost on the guilty. But its enormity as a crime, as I apprehend it, lies less in the motive of its
perpetrators, which is bad enough, than in the fact that shedding innocent blood is wrong. All previous moralities and religions agree that one cannot kill
the innocent, but only the guilty. One cannot, for example, kill a generic American for the actions of other Americans, or for the actions of his countrys
army if he is not part of it, or for the foreign policy of his government. In general, moral law
mandates that one may not kill a man for what another man has done.

How has this now come to be set aside in some minds?
While I am not a specialist in the history of atrocities, it seems to me that this basic principle
of morality was first violated, and on a grand scale and with the tacit and the spoken support of the intelligentsia, press, and policy makers in the Second
World War, with the advent of carpet-bombing. Here,
ineffective attempts at precision bombing of military targets and factories gave way first to incendiary bombing of particular German cities to burn them down,
then to area bombing of as much urban acreage as possible. Bombing everythingùsoldiers and civilians,
combatants and non-combatants, residential areas and strategic targets would shorten the war; so the bombs rolled out, and eliminating civilians became itself a major strategic aim. In Cologne, in Hamburg, in
Dresden: the numbers of the dead were unprecedented and horrendous. In Dresden, where there were no war industries at all, some 130,000 were killed. Perhaps
the ultimate area bombing (there is little reason not to call it terror bombing) was the atomic bomb dropped on the old Japanese provincial city of Hiroshima, and later on Nagasaki. Men, women, babies, schoolgirls: the first instantaneous flash of atomic
radiation burned their clothes off them and cooked the outside of their bodies, then the concussion blew it off so that it hung down in flapping strips seen by
those who survived when they looked at each other. One
can read the eyewitness accounts. We were showing them
what would happen if we dropped one on Tokyo. They got
the picture.

My point is that a mentality has been given birth in this century, and the attempts by its beneficiaries to draw some legitimacy for it from existing morality or religion, if understandable at a psychological level, have nothing to do with morality or religion. This
kind of terrorism is going on today, indeed has been
carried out by American presidents and their proxies in Nicaragua, in Sudan, in Lebanon, and in Iraq for
the last twenty years, as described by Noam Chomsky,
Edward Said, and others whose books and articles about these events are many and well-documented, and blithely ignored by almost everyone in America.

The little bands of bomb makers and plane hijackers are not at bottom religious men, but desperate men. They are inspired less by religion than by hope that
on a symbolic scale they can somehow emulate the
success of American and Israeli punitive strikes, and preemptive attacks. Civilians die all
the time in the West Bank and in Iraq. Someone in Jordan told me of a relative from another country who needed a kidney and could not find a donor of suitable
blood group from his extended family, so he went to
Iraq and bought one for two thousand dollars. The
donor did not have food to eat, and was willing to sell his kidney. People are starving there. Birth defects and cancer are burgeoning from all the
chemicals and explosives that have that been dropped on the people. Bombs are dropped from time to time to show them who is boss. According to Chomsky we have by
now succeeded in killing one million civilians in Iraq, one half of whom were small children. The United States continually vetoes the United Nations
initiative to allow UN observers into Israel to see what is being done to Palestinians there. In 1998 Clinton destroyed one half of Sudan's pharmaceuticals
and the means of replenishing them in punitive bombing
raids on that country and killed untold numbers of
civilians. How many? We don't know, because the United
States prevented the UN inquiry. Eighty percent of the
refugees of the world bear Muslim last names.
Desperation grows among these throngs, as hope wanes
for a balanced U.S. foreign policy, or even an
abatement of U.S. bombing and violence against Muslim
civilian populations. There is no hope for people who
know from the example of Nicaragua, Sudan, Iraq, and
Israel that any attempt of redress or appeal to the
United Nations or World Court will be vetoed or defied
by the attackers. People without hope do a lot of

Someone recently informed me that half the terrorist
organizations officially listed on some or another
terrorist watch website, were Muslim. Though Islamic
law does not countenance terrorism or suicide of any
sort, and I know these organizations represent an
extreme splinter of an extreme splinter of Islam, I did
not find the statistic particularly shocking. Rather,
if in the last fifty years world governments like the
United States and Britain have somehow convinced
themselves that it is morally acceptable to kill,
starve, and maim civilians of other countries in order
to persuade their governments to do something, it would
be surprising if this conviction did not somehow
percolate down to the dispossessed, the hopeless, the
aggrieved, and the powerless of every religion and
ethnic group in the world. It looks as if it has.

We Americans are not bombing people, young and old,
whose lives, when they survive, are brutally
interrupted by the loss of an arm or a leg, or a
father, or a son, or a mother, or a house that the
family saved for years to build. We are too civilized
for that. Rather, we bomb Iraq. We bomb Sudan. We bomb
Southern Lebanon. We bomb Palestinian positions. We
don't cause the tens of thousands of birth defective
and mentally retarded babies with the chemical mayhem
and ten-year famine we are currently paying for in
Iraq: We are imposing sanctions. We don't kill
actual human beings with all the explosives we are
dumping on these countries. We are killing generic
Iraqis, generic Sudanis, generic Palestinians. It
sounds like we may now have to kill some generic
Afghanis. And now the shock of all shocks, the
devastation of all devastations: some crazy people
this past month decided to kill a lot of generic
Americans. What on earth made them think it was
morally acceptable to kill people who hadn't committed
any crime, who were not combatants, and were not
killed in self-defense?

The answer, I apprehend, is not to be found in Islam,
or in any religion or morality, but in the fact that
there are fashions in atrocities and in the rhetoric
used to dress them up. Unfortunately these begin to
look increasingly like our own fashions and sound
increasingly like our own rhetoric, reheated and
served up to us. The terrorists themselves, in their
own minds, were doubtless not killing secretaries,
janitors, and firemen. That would be too obscene.
Rather, they were attacking America.

The attack has been condemned, as President Bush has
noted, by Muslim scholars and clerics across the
board, and indeed by all people of decency around the
world. I have read Islamic law with scholars, and know
that it does not condone either suicide or killing
non-combatants. But what to do about the crime itself?

The solution being proposed seems to be a
technological one. We will highlight these people on
our screens, and press delete. If we cannot find the
precise people, we will delete others like them, until
everyone else gets the message. We have done it lots of
times. The problem with this is that it is morally
wrong, and will send a clear confirmation if more is
needed beyond the shoot-em-ups abroad of the last
decades that show our more or less complete disdain
for both non-white human life and international
law that there is no law between us and other nations
besides the law of the jungle. People like these
attackers, willing to kill themselves to devastate
others, are not ordinary people. They are desperate
people. What has made them so is not lunacy, or
religion, but the perception that there is no
effective legal recourse to stop crimes against the
civilian peoples they identify with. Our own and our
clients killing, mutilating, and starving civilians
are termed strikes, preemptive attacks, raiding
the frontiers, and sanctions because we have a
standing army, print our own currency, and have a
press establishment and other trappings of modern
statehood. Without them, our actions would be pure

Two wrongs do not make a right. They only make two
wrongs. I think the whole moral discourse has been
derailed by our own rhetoric in recent decades.
Terrorism must be repudiated by America not only by
words but by actions, beginning with its own. As Abd
al-Hakim Winter asks, Are the architects of policy
sane in their certainty that America can enrage large
numbers of people, but contain that rage forever
through satellite technology and intrepid double
agents? I think we have to get back to basics and
start acting as if we knew that killing civilians is

As it is, we seem to have convinced a lot of other
people that it is right, among them some of the more
extreme elements of the contemporary Wahhabi sect of
Muslims, including the members of the Bin Laden
network, whom the security agencies seem to be
pointing their finger at for this crime. The Wahhabi
sect, which has not been around for more than two and
a half centuries, has never been part of traditional
Sunni Islam, which rejects it and which it rejects.
Orthodox Sunnis, who make up the vast majority of
Muslims, are neither Wahhabis nor terrorists, for the
traditional law they follow forbids killing civilian
non-combatants to make any kind of point, political or
otherwise. Those who have travelled through North
Africa, Turkey, Egypt, or the Levant know what
traditional Muslims are like in their own lands.
Travellers find them decent, helpful, and hospitable
people, and feel safer in Muslim lands than in many
places, such as Central America, for example, or for
that matter, Central Park.

On the other hand, there will always be publicists who
hate Muslims, and who for ideological or religious
reasons want others to do so. Where there is an
ill-will, there is a way. A fifth of humanity are
Muslims, and if to err is human, we may reasonably
expect Muslims to err also, and it is certainly
possible to stir up hatred by publicizing bad
examples. But if experience is any indication, the
only people convinced by media pieces about the
inherent fanaticism of Muslims will be those who donÆt
know any. Muslims have nothing to be ashamed of, and
nothing to hide, and should simply tell people what
their scholars and religious leaders have always said:
first, that the Wahhabi sect has nothing to do with
orthodox Islam, for its lack of tolerance is a
perversion of traditional values; and second, that
killing civilians is wrong and immoral.

And we Americans should take the necessary measures to
get the ship of state back on a course that is
credible, fair, and at bottom at least moral in our
dealings with the other peoples of the world. For if
our ideas of how to get along with other nations do
not exceed the morality of action-thriller destruction
movies, we may well get more action than we paid for.


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