Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Intended terror victims or racists?

Let me share an observation with you which was inspired from recent visits to various blogs and their comments sections. As a reason/excuse/explanation (pick one) for recent plots and actual horrific attacks on “western interests” and innocent civilians by groups of Islamic terrorists, a few progressive bloggers plus some of their commenters have appointed themselves to be apologists for the Muslim faith and are going so far as to try to squelch any debate by employing offense as a substitute for defense. While most everyone knows that Islam is a respected world class religion with over a billion practitioners who just want to live in peace, it hardly needs these few individuals to defend it everytime its name is even mentioned. Many bloggers who follow current events and write about their fears and apprehensions are doing so because they are genuinely concerned. As concerned citizens of a country who has been singled out publicly by various Islamic inspired terror groups who are busily concocting ways to target and kill the largest amounts of innocent men, women and children, it is not unreasonable to see the results of this terror being made manifest in many fearsome dissertations by various bloggers and a multitude of commenters. Occasionally I am shocked and deeply saddened by a few commenters, mostly with anonymous and non-identifiable credentials, making light of these expressed fears and insulting the authors of same. Their modus operandi are varied but two methods are being utilized most often and effectively.
The first method I’ll call the “odds” argument. It goes; “Don’t you know that the chances of being a victim of these terror groups is “infinitesimally small”? “You have a better chance of drowning in your bathtub or getting hit by lightning than becoming a terror victim”.
The problem with this argument is that it only takes into consideration what has happened and is happening right now with absolutely no regard as to what may develop in the future if the problem is not addressed in some way. Here is a revelation; we do not live in a futureless dimension. As technology advances and many forms of WMD’s become readily available and buildable, those odds may start to become very worrisome indeed. A small compact “nuke” or dirty bomb can kill the inhabitants of a whole city. What are the odds that the terrorists will remain “insignificant”? Do we in the meantime do and say nothing?
The second method I’ll call the “bunching all of Islam” ploy. Here, whenever someone complains that these attacks are primarily by Islamic fanatics (which is true) with the hope that the overwhelming majority moderate Muslims will sympathize with the victims and join in condemning the terrorists, these apologists call us bigots, racists and hypocrites. This method utilizes the tactic of subversion by intentionally misinterpreting any mention of Islamic terrorists groups as a racist remark against all of Islam. So if one writes that a group of Islamic terrorists plotted to bomb an airliner they will completely disregard the words group and terrorists and claim this to be a racist slur and an insult against all of Islam.
Employing these tactics the apologists attempt to obfuscate the true intent and create an aura of confusion against entirely appropriate fears and concerns by those who are the legitimate intended targets of these Islamic terrorist groups and thereby hoping to nullify such concerns and dismiss them as unworthy of mention.
Instead of joining in the condemnation of these vile and horrific acts, these individuals add insult (literally) to injury.
These apologists have no faith in the ability of other bloggers and commenters to be able to discern the difference between the few fanatical Islamic terrorists which are sowing the seeds of terror and the overwhelming majority of peace loving Muslims. Another revelation; the vast majority of us bloggers are not ignorant misinformed cowboys but concerned citizens with genuine security issues for the future of our families and our way of life.
Most of us do understand that the few individuals who make the mistake of vilifying all Muslims for the actions of the few misguided terrorists need to be corrected immediately to prevent any kind of backlash from occurring but that does not apply to everyone who writes the word Islam or Muslim in the same sentence as the word terrorist.
An understanding of the basic fundamentals of law and order should be sufficient for all members of today's modern civilized society to vilify the terrorists instead of making ad hominem attacks on the intended victims.
I always thought this was an “understood given” but I guess I can’t assume anything anymore in this new and supposedly improved "progressive" age.

46 comments:

Boo said...

the "odds are against it" argument is sadly lacking any sort of concern for fellow human beings...

I was hoping that the knowledge and acceptance that its only a small % of Muslims committing these acts of terror was becoming more widespread. Then - the Pope, or some other official, makes a comment deemed inappropriate, and entire countries go wild burning churches.

Saw a bumper sticker the other day that said "its okay to behead innocent people and videotape it but don't draw a picture of this guy" with an arrow and a stickman and "Mohammed" under it.

I agree that muslims we consider "moderate" are the majority, but they're hard to notice through all the blood.

beatroot said...

The problem with this argument is that it only takes into consideration what has happened and is happening right now with absolutely no regard as to what may develop in the future if the problem is not addressed in some way.

But you are not dealing with the world as it is at all. You are dealing with the world as it might be, one day, maybe, if certain conditions arise….

That is not a realistic or rational argument. But of course we are not dealing with rational reactions here. Why are people much more scared of something like a terrorist attack (in the US) than they of having a heart attack. Fact is, a heart attack lies waiting for many of us. Terrorism does not. So why the different reactions?

That is a much more interesting question…

roman said...

boo,

Great bumper sticker. It illustrates clearly the insanity of these groups of religious fanatics.

beatroot,

You asked: "a heart attack lies waiting for many of us. Terrorism does not. So why the different reactions?"
When a heart attack occurs, we have only ourselves to blame for not excercising enough, eating food doused with fats and harmfull cholesterol, etc. We CONTROL our own destiny and are able to direct and insure our existance. When a terrorist attack claims a life, regardless of how rarely this happens, it is not under our control but rather someone else claims that control. That's called premeditated murder instead of death by natural causes. One is completely natural or self-guided while the other is unnatural and a capital offense.

Renegade Eye said...

Actually violence has been down in this decade, due to lack of anti-colonial struggles.

Your argument is quite hypothetical. The facts are, dying in a terror attack is remote.

Terrorism is a tactic, that found its way, into many struggles good and bad. More accurate would be war against Islamists.

roman said...

Ren,

I do agree with you. The reason that I do not like to use the term "Islamists" is because it is very easily misinterpreted due to its vagueness. An Imam or any learned scholar or preacher of the Islamic faith can be considered an Islamist. I try very hard to separate those who attept to terrorize us from those who just want to practice their faith and coexists peacefully.

Pete's Blog said...

Roman

I agree with your arguments wholeheartedly.

Additional points are 9/11 was the largest terrorist attack in Western history and an attack by FOREIGN nationals on the US people. This foreign attack aspect distinguishes it from other everyday events (slipping in the bath).

3,000 dead was a toll of wartime proportions with less Americans dying in the Pearl Harbor attack.

The US Defense and Intelligence reaction to 9/11 was therefore enormous - well placed against al Qaeda in Afganistan but not against Iraq.

Yet the trendy left are callous. 9/11 to them was, of course, an American government plot or its fault. Nothing really to do with wealthy Arabs born in Saudi Arabia or the UAE.

Pete

roman said...

Pete,

The wacky conspiracy wingnuts who blame 9-11 on the US government have absolutely no credible evidence. Whenever asked to back up some "evidence" they provide, they constantly rely on the same answer. This evidence was not followed up on by 9-11 government investigators. What they fail to mention, however, is that the investigators did not follow certain leads because they were ridiculously improbable and like any CSI group, they follow the most probable and strongest evidentiary trail and not the weakest.
Besides, how could a plot this huge have been kept from leaks fpr the last 5 years while other less important secrets are leaked as a matter of course every single day?

beatroot said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
beatroot said...

When pollsters asked people in the US ‘Would you rather let your children play in a house that had a gun in it or a house with a swimming pool’ nearly 100% said ‘the swimming pool’.

But many more kids die in the States in house swimming pools than get shot from guns in houses. And this is where we are completely unable these days to measure risk. The thing about a terrorist attack in the US – in which a single individual is very very very unlikely to die in, is that it is an unexpected outrageous way to die. The same as a kid getting shot by a gun….

So perception of risk = hazard plus outrage. With heart attacks the hazard is very real, the outrage is low. With terrorism in the US the hazard is very low but the outrage high.

Add to that politicians and media playing the ‘politics of fear’, plus other cultural factors, and that’s why people are so terrified – and are prepared to give away civil liberties – of the very unlikely chance of getting killed by another 9/11.

Pete's Blog said...

beatroot

Your formula looks a fair reflection of people's feelings. But it doesn't make people any less worried.

Unlike the invasion of Iraq (a bitter mistake) there are effective measures to reduce the shock of terrorism. Domestic monitoring of things like the internet (as my blog argues) does not "give away civil liberties". Vaster and more detailed monitoring of who we call and what we do on the internet is already monitored by phone companies, by search engines and commercial data mining on a much more indiscriminate scale than the government.

Pete

Atanu Bandyopadhyay said...

You forgot to mention: why those who understand the mindset of those you are taught to call "terrorists" are sympathise with their position, do so? Or better, why do those terrosists kill so many thousands?

Answer it.

roman said...

atanu,

Do you sympathize with their position? If you do, how do you know what their position is? They never told us what it is that they want. Therefore, how can we even start to understand it?
When the planes hit the twin towers of NY back on 9/11, I did not hear anyone claiming responsibility and stating any kind of reason, did you? These attacks are just a continuation of human savagery for the sake of human savagery. It's been going on for thousands of years by people who have not learned anything from history. It's just a vicious cycle that keeps repeating itself. Do you really think there is a reason for one man claiming the life of another? Please tell me what it is?

Redwine said...

Ren is right.l I could add that between terrorism and terrorism (and the term doesn't necessarily carry a negative connotation) there is a huge difference. This kind of terrorism some praise (WTC, Madrid, London) is about power: it is a totalitarian stance, simply. Politicized religion
always is. That praising Osama whilst preaching secularism is not exactly a consistent approach: not many are bothered by the facts.

Pete's Blog said...

Roman

I think the 9/11 bombers (al Qaeda) were motivated by the desire to reestablish the "Caliphate" from Morroco across Asia down to Indonesia. Existing governance of Muslim countries did not (and still doesn't) reach their unworldly "high" Wahabist standards. eg under Sharia law woman are lower than men in most measurable respects.

Our sisters who appear to be moral relativists should picture themselves walking by themselves on a Saudi street as a test of tolerance.

Pete

beatroot said...

If the 9/11 terrorists (and they are terrorists because their only aim is to create teror) were making some kind of political statement then they would have a political message, a political organization, have strategic demands, objectives and aims. They have none of these.

Even in Iraq, what has not emerged is any kind of political actors, no unified aims, no leaders, nothing. They do not seek to overthrow a state, or gain territory.

All they do – like 9/11ers is create symbolic and horrific acts of terror. Blowing up children waiting in a line in a market is NOT a political act. It’s not about power, it’s about terror…

Yet another reason not to be sooo frighten of them.

Pete's Blog said...

roman and beatroot

I think it is too confoundingly simplistic to say that al Qaeda (perpetrators of 9/11) cause terror for terror's sake because they are terrorists.

al Qaeda has explained clearly on numerous occasions that its aim is to make Muslim countries more purely Islamic by removing western influences from them.

The means al Qaeda wishes to achieve this is through asymmetric warfare commonly called "terror". Suicide bombing (on its largest scale at 9/11) appears to be the most "effective strategy".

Simply saying terrorists do it because they advocate terror is a sure recipe for western forces continuing to nail the wrong countries like Iraq when they should be also be focusing on states being bowed to and avoided - like Saudi Arabia (birthplace of most of the 9/11 bombers).

Pete

roman said...

Pete,

You're right. I am not promoting the idea that Al Qeada is committing terror just for terror's sake alone. I guess what I am saying is that unlike previous anarchists and terrorists in the past, they do not clearly articulate their grievances on a quid pro quo basis. "Do this and we will not commit terror." Their refusal to state their goals are a principle factor in world condemnation of them and hence the global WOT.
IMHO this is done on purpose. Their goal is cummulative. Attacking our interests and forcing us to retaliate. The retaliation, in turn will create more sympathy for their cause in the Muslim world and hence more recruits. It is a power stratagem which is working just fine for them.

beatroot said...

al Qaeda has explained clearly on numerous occasions that its aim is to make Muslim countries more purely Islamic by removing western influences from them.

If so then they would form political movements in those countries. They don't. They create symbolic terror spectaculars. And 9/11 was nothing to do creating a calophite in the middle east. How could it?

jams o donnell said...

Interesting post and quality debate. Excellent blog, Roman.

roman said...

redwine and jams,

Welcome to my little corner of the blogosphere. I am honored. Please drop by occasionally. When commenting, please be as critical as you deem appropriate. I can take it! I found that this is the only sure way of getting an honest and balanced viewpoint and ultimately learning from it.

Redwine said...

Thanks, Roman.

Beatroot, "they would form political movements in those countries" - well, they are rather "transnational", more than the good old Cicciolina is, aren't they? Also, radical islamist movements (with close ties or at least tacit support for the Al Qaeda) do form political movements. (The brotherhood for example - though later it distanced itself - is very close, and banned as a political or other than cultural movement in many Arab countries. )

And while I don't see them as an imminent danger, (smoking or a car accident are more likely to kill me) the world would better get used to this new modus operandi, : one which does not seek political solutions.

Pete's Blog said...

beatroot

Unfortunately you have preconceptions about how AQ should act.

Naturally AQ is evil and conducts mass terrorism to catch attention and a wider following in the Muslim world. But this doesn't mean it has no objectives. Please note the following.

AQ's main creed is Wahabism (aka Salafism) - an extreme, militant sect of Islam. Wahabism is the dominant and mass form of Islam in Saudi Arabia. Most Saudi's are happy to minimise Western influences in the country through strict Sharia (way of life) law. They also spend many $billions a year support Wahabist mosques and schools overseas.

However this is not enough for AQ who sees the Saudi Arabia as weak and overly influenced by the West. AQ also sees Israel as a Western threat to Islam so it should be eliminated. The US is seen as the main backer of Israel.

AQ's immediate goal is to completely rid Saudi Arabia (home to Mecca and Medina...) of Western influences. Hence its goals are unmeetable as roman says.

AQ sees the US (including its business interests) as the main Western threat to Saudi Arabia.

As New York is the main US business city and the World Trade Centre WAS the main symbal of US business the World Trade Centre was the main target for 9/11. The Pentagon is the main US military headquarters and hence was another target.

If you look at this broad picture and read http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/binladen/interviews/al-fagih.html I'd be grateful.

Pete

jams o donnell said...

Thanks for linking Roman. I have returned the compliment

Pete's Blog said...

With North Korea threatening to test a viable nuke in the near future terrorists with money (eg. al Qaeda and Hezbollah) might decide to go shopping.

This put a whole new immediacy on the War on Terror.

roman said...

Pete,

I agree. With rogue states like No Korea expending every resource in nuke technology, the nuke supermarket is not an impossible scenario. The odds of becoming a victim of terror will soon become frighteningly worrisome.

Renegade Eye said...

The discussion would be different, if you were for example, a secular female in Iraq. That situation is more immediate.

Pete's Blog said...

ren

Fear of bearded males killing woman is indeed more worrisome anywere in the Middle East - except perhaps in Israel :)

Pete

Redwine said...

Pete, statistics (domestic abuse) are as scary elsewhere as in the ME. That is to say, where such a thing is available, and that is your main point I guess.

Anonymous said...

You know what I really love? How the pope criticized islam's violence/history of violence and muslims (moderate or not)went out and proved his point.

beatroot said...

And while I don't see them as an imminent danger, (smoking or a car accident are more likely to kill me) the world would better get used to this new modus operandi, : one which does not seek political solutions.


Exactly, Redwine.

Pete's Blog said...

Redwine

I was trying to make the (Western centric) point that Israel does not abuse woman as badly as Muslim Middle Eastern countries (where death for being raped is often a legal reality).

However then I realised how badly Israel treats Muslim woman in Lebanon, Gaza etc (death by aerial bombing).

So I suppose its about even. Many woman are killed wherever they are in the Middle East.

Pete

Redwine said...

we do have more or less appropriate statistics (re domestic abuse, rape, etc) from some countries, and almost none from others. That makes a huge difference - in perspective. Even in the US or Sweden or the UK, many of these cases are underreported. (Mostly in the rural communities).

Renegade Eye said...

Bush labeling his fight with certain Islamists, "the war on terror", was a first step in a wrong direction.

Terror is only a tactic. It was used both for good and bad causes, usually of desperation. Trotsky talked of it as substituting yourself for a political base.

San Nakji said...

It's nice to give bloggers credit, but I wonder how many of those in the blog world are actually as clued up as you say? Hmmmm...

Pete's Blog said...

san

I'm clued (I think?!) man/woman/you jellyfish thingy you.

Pete

roman said...

san nakji,

Your point is taken. We cannot assume that all bloggers and their readership are able to discern the exception from the rule in the war on terror. With this in mind, all bloggers (who are clued up) should try and reiterize this point whenever it is needed. Some bloggers tend to "hover" near the extremes of certain viewpoints to make their case. This is a tactic that may make themselves feel good but I doubt if it ever persuades or converts anyone.

Fahd Mirza said...

Roman My dear, Its so refreshing to be back reading your blog. Its same as before.

Remember me? I am sure you do.

roman said...

fahd mirza,

What a happy surprise to hear from you. How are things in Pakistan? I assume that your recent marriage has kept you away from the blogosphere. Married life sure changes everything. I miss your most insightful viewpoints and perspective. We here on the other side of the Atlantic rarely, if ever, receive non-biased news reporting from your side of the world.
Hope to hear from you again soon.
I will re-link and drop by your site from time to time.

Daniel said...

Congratulations, Roman, on the high standard of debate in your blog. In Australia, I have to have comment moderation in order to maintain some reasonable level of discussion.

American blogs are, in the main, more civilised than many of those down-under. But, let me ask, how could your brothers and sisters elect someone like George?

P.S. Our Howard, mind you, is little better!

roman said...

daniel,

Thanks for visiting my site, hope you'll visit often.
Good question. The only logical explanation I can come up with is that voters are heavily influenced by the "known" quantity as opposed to the "unknown". The BushI and BushII phenomena is very similar to Bill Clinton and now, maybe, Hillary Clinton. Voters are opting for familiarity instead of quality statesmanship. Instead of a true representative democracy we have a capitalist driven monarchy where the left and right political machines get all the attention but actually do very little but court special interest and secure their existence.

Daniel said...

Amen to that, Roman. All the gains of the French Revolution are being quickly eroded away.

Humans are basically herd animals who largely appear to be unaffected by education. Cheers!

Redwine said...

"Voters are opting for familiarity instead of quality statesmanship." - Perfectly true. Don't forget that all campaigns target this: this is not a political age anymore. Also, voting Bush (for example, in the US)often means the fear of the unknown. Again, is this lack of political will or the opposite? And often: what choice is left? What are these people offered? In no case a viable alternative, in this case. Or so it seems.

"to be unaffected by education." - Daniel, I wish: in this case they would use their own heads instead of mishmashed propaganda.

roman said...

redwine,

What alternative, indeed. In order to become a viable political force these days, it seems what is called for most is an average intellect but a supernatural "gift of gab" and "showmanship". Unfortunately, a higher standard of intellect and means to utilize it (aka wisdom) need not apply.

beatroot said...

Instead of a true representative democracy we have a capitalist driven monarchy where the left and right political machines get all the attention but actually do very little but court special interest and secure their existence.

Bingo. This is the death of politics that I go on about so much. But politicians know that they are isolated. And as they can’t connect and inspire us with ideas, they try and find other ways to do it. Hence the obsession with ‘security’ issues and revolting ‘humanist interventionist’ stunts like invading Iraq and Afghanistan, and the war on terror in general (after they run out of excuses about WMD blah blah), or patronizing Africans with their ‘Make Poverty History’ campaigns.

And it also makes the media obsessed with the ‘behaviour’ of politicians, like that sicko Foley guy. Not a political issue but the Democrats will clutch at anything.

beatroot said...

Oh, and both you and Redwine get enough comments these days to start making a few more new posts. I like reading new posts!

roman said...

beatroot,

OK, you're right, it is time for some new posts. I will post again soon now that I have a brand-spanking new router and am able to
write comfortably from my "lair".