The Daily Bork

July 11, 2005

Another voice in the dark

I get the feeling that none of the dingbat sites mentioned heretofore will be in a rush to cite this article by one of their fellow left leaners at The Observer. Because, in a nutshell, he seems to have thought it through and found the heart of what faces the world (and it ain't noone with a Texas accent)...

Face up to the truth

...I feel the appeal, believe me. You are exasperated with the manifold faults of Tony Blair and George W Bush. Fighting your government is what you know how to do and what you want to do, and when you are confronted with totalitarian forces which are far worse than your government, the easy solution is to blame your government for them.

But it's a parochial line of reasoning to suppose that all bad, or all good, comes from the West - and a racist one to boot. The unavoidable consequence is that you must refuse to support democrats, liberals, feminists and socialists in the Arab world and Iran who are the victims of Islamism in its Sunni and Shia guises because you are too compromised to condemn their persecutors.

Islamism stops being an ideology intent on building an empire from Andalusia to Indonesia, destroying democracy and subjugating women and becomes, by the magic of parochial reasoning, a protest movement on a par with Make Poverty History or the TUC.

Again, I understand the appeal. Whether you are brown or white, Muslim, Christian, Jew or atheist, it is uncomfortable to face the fact that there is a messianic cult of death which, like European fascism and communism before it, will send you to your grave whatever you do. But I'm afraid that's what the record shows...



Full text:

We all know who was to blame for Thursday's murders... and it wasn't Bush and Blair

Nick Cohen
Sunday July 10, 2005
The Observer

The instinctive response of a significant portion of the rich world's intelligentsia to the murder of innocents on 11 September was anything but robust. A few, such as Karlheinz Stockhausen, were delighted. The destruction of the World Trade Centre was 'the greatest work of art imaginable for the whole cosmos,' declared the composer whose tin ear failed to catch the screams.

Others saw it as a blow for justice rather than art. They persuaded themselves that al-Qaeda was made up of anti-imperialist insurgents who were avenging the wrongs of the poor. 'The great speculators wallow in an economy that every year kills tens of millions of people with poverty, so what is 20,000 dead in New York?' asked Dario Fo. Rosie Boycott seemed to agree. 'The West should take the blame for pushing people in Third World countries to the end of their tether,' she wrote.

In these bleak days, it's worth remembering what was said after September 2001. A backward glance shows that before the war against the Taliban and long before the war against Saddam Hussein, there were many who had determined that 'we had it coming'. They had to convince themselves that Islamism was a Western creation: a comprehensible reaction to the International Monetary Fund or hanging chads in Florida or whatever else was agitating them, rather than an autonomous psychopathic force with reasons of its own. In the years since, this manic masochism has spread like bindweed and strangled leftish and much conservative thought.

All kinds of hypocrisy remained unchallenged. In my world of liberal London, social success at the dinner table belonged to the man who could simultaneously maintain that we've got it coming but that nothing was going to come; that indiscriminate murder would be Tony Blair's fault but there wouldn't be indiscriminate murder because 'the threat' was a phantom menace invented by Blair to scare the cowed electorate into supporting him.

I'd say the 'power of nightmares' side of that oxymoronic argument is too bloodied to be worth discussing this weekend and it's better to stick with the wider delusion.

On Thursday, before the police had made one arrest, before one terrorist group had claimed responsibility, before one body had been carried from the wreckage, let alone been identified and allowed to rest in peace, cocksure voices filled with righteousness were proclaiming that the real murderers weren't the real murderers but the Prime Minister. I'm not thinking of George Galloway and the other saluters of Saddam, but of upright men and women who sat down to write letters to respectable newspapers within minutes of hearing the news.

'Hang your head in shame, Mr Blair. Better still, resign - and whoever takes over immediately withdraw all our forces from Iraq and Afghanistan,' wrote the Rev Mike Ketley, who is a vicar, for God's sake, but has no qualms about leaving Afghanistan to the Taliban and al-Qaeda or Iraq to the Baath party and al-Qaeda. 'Let's stop this murder and put on trial those criminals who are within our jurisdiction,' began Patrick Daly of south London in an apparently promising letter to the Independent. But, inevitably, he didn't mean the bombers. 'Let's start with the British government.'

And so it went on. At no point did they grasp that Islamism was a reactionary movement as great as fascism, which had claimed millions of mainly Muslim lives in the Sudan, Iran, Algeria and Afghanistan and is claiming thousands in Iraq. As with fascism, it takes a resolute dunderheadedness to put all the responsibility on democratic governments for its existence.

I feel the appeal, believe me. You are exasperated with the manifold faults of Tony Blair and George W Bush. Fighting your government is what you know how to do and what you want to do, and when you are confronted with totalitarian forces which are far worse than your government, the easy solution is to blame your government for them.

But it's a parochial line of reasoning to suppose that all bad, or all good, comes from the West - and a racist one to boot. The unavoidable consequence is that you must refuse to support democrats, liberals, feminists and socialists in the Arab world and Iran who are the victims of Islamism in its Sunni and Shia guises because you are too compromised to condemn their persecutors.

Islamism stops being an ideology intent on building an empire from Andalusia to Indonesia, destroying democracy and subjugating women and becomes, by the magic of parochial reasoning, a protest movement on a par with Make Poverty History or the TUC.

Again, I understand the appeal. Whether you are brown or white, Muslim, Christian, Jew or atheist, it is uncomfortable to face the fact that there is a messianic cult of death which, like European fascism and communism before it, will send you to your grave whatever you do. But I'm afraid that's what the record shows.

The only plausible excuse for 11 September was that it was a protest against America's support for Israel. Unfortunately, Osama bin Laden's statements revealed that he was obsessed with the American troops defending Saudi Arabia from Saddam Hussein and had barely said a word about Palestine.

After the Bali bombings, the conventional wisdom was that the Australians had been blown to pieces as a punishment for their government's support for Bush. No one thought for a moment about the Australian forces which stopped Indonesian militias rampaging through East Timor, a small country Indonesia had invaded in 1975 with the backing of the US. Yet when bin Laden spoke, he said it was Australia's anti-imperialist intervention to free a largely Catholic population from a largely Muslim occupying power which had bugged him.

East Timor was a great cause of the left until the Australians made it an embarrassment. So, too, was the suffering of the victims of Saddam, until the tyrant made the mistake of invading Kuwait and becoming America's enemy. In the past two years in Iraq, UN and Red Cross workers have been massacred, trade unionists assassinated, school children and aid workers kidnapped and decapitated and countless people who happened to be on the wrong bus or on the wrong street at the wrong time paid for their mistake with their lives.

What can the survivors do? Not a lot according to a Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. He told bin Laden that the northern Kurds may be Sunni but 'Islam's voice has died out among them' and they'd been infiltrated by Jews. The southern Shia were 'a sect of treachery' while any Arab, Kurd, Shia or Sunni who believed in a democratic Iraq was a heretic.

Our options are as limited When Abu Bakr Bashir was arrested for the Bali bombings, he was asked how the families of the dead could avoid the fate of their relatives. 'Please convert to Islam,' he replied. But as the past 40 years have shown, Islamism is mainly concerned with killing and oppressing Muslims.

In his intervention before last year's American presidential election, bin Laden praised Robert Fisk of the Independent whose journalism he admired. 'I consider him to be neutral,' he said, so I suppose we could all resolve not to take the tube unless we can sit next to Mr Fisk. But as the killings are indiscriminate, I can't see how that would help and, in any case, who wants to be stuck on a train with an Independent reporter?

There are many tasks in the coming days. Staying calm, helping the police and protecting Muslim communities from neo-Nazi attack are high among them. But the greatest is to resolve to see the world for what it is and remove the twin vices of wilful myopia and bad faith which have disfigured too much liberal thought for too long.

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