July 26, 2005
Terrorism's latest victimBy Rick Moran
'Success has a thousand fathers while failure is an orphan' applies to just about every human endeavor with the exception of war. War usually has one father while making orphans galore.
In our current situation, the father of this war is international Islamism and its adherents who seek to reestablish a Muslim Caliphate from the Middle East to Indonesia. They wish to bring the world's one billion Muslims under one roof and impose Islamic sharia law on everyone — Jew, Christian and Muslim alike.
Only the willfully self—deluded deny this. To them, the War on Terror is a gigantic conspiracy of George Bush who seeks dictatorial powers on behalf of his friends — multi—national corporations and shadowy Christian fundamentalists.
I can guarantee that it won't matter one wit to the jihadists. They're in this war for the long haul and any temporary setbacks in Afghanistan and Iraq matter little to them. The West is the enemy tangentially because of who we are and what we stand for. But they really seek to destroy us for a far more simple and basic reason.
We're in the way.
We are an impediment to their goals. They know we will not sit idly by while several billion people (half of whom would be women) come under the harsh dictums of sharia law with its unyielding strictures against human liberty, its treatment of women as chattel, and its nightmarish transformation of Jews, Christians, and people of other faiths into slaves under the governing system of dhimmitude. We in the West must then be eliminated or neutralized.
Terror, as has been said often but needs to be repeated, is a tactic used by our enemies in this war. This tactic has been most effective not in a military sense but in getting some of us to question the underlying belief in our civilization. For in order to counter the murderous intentions of our enemies, Western countries have had to resort to undemocratic and, in some cases, dictatorial methods in order to avoid the worst that our enemies can do. And that worst is what keeps our leaders awake at nights; the use of a weapon of mass destruction that would quite literally bring Western civilization to its knees.
This is not hyperbole. This is a statement of fact. Anyone who has contemplated what would happen with the detonation of a nuclear device in a large American city realizes that the fragile threads that bind our economy, our citizenry, and our government would snap the moment the mushroom cloud blossomed. And the interconnectedness of the world's economy would spell doom for most of the rest of the planet after the certain collapse of the American economy following such a disaster.
To keep this from happening, Western governments have been forced to curtail some liberties and use methods and enact procedures that in peacetime would be grounds for revolution. Unfortunately as is wont to happen in war, innocents get caught in the middle, hemmed in between our necessary desire for security and the free exercise of our liberties.
Recently, we've had a horrible example of this 'collateral damage' with the tragic death of 27—year—old Jean Charles de Menezes whose inexplicable flight from authorities resulted in an incident that will cause Great Britain to question some basic assumptions regarding civil liberties in an age of terror.
Mr. Menezes, a Brazilian immigrant, was shot dead by police when, after repeated orders to stop, he jumped the turnstile at an underground station and ran into a crowded subway car. Since he was dressed in a fleece jacket in 80 degree weather, police suspected he was a suicide bomber and felt they had no choice but to 'shoot to kill.'
Were the officers justified? The fact is that if Mr. Menezes were a suicide bomber, dozens perhaps hundreds of lives would have been saved. But since he wasn't, Mr. Menezes ends up a victim of terrorism as much as anyone who died in the London bombs of 7/7. When police have only seconds to make that determination, mistakes are going to be made. And the fact that they will probably be more careful next time may mean that a suicide bomber will succeed in his murderous intent.
When and if that happens, do you think all of the critics who have been so vociferous in their protests over the last 24 hours will praise the police for their restraint? Or, for that matter, if Mr. Menezes had been a suicide bomber, what would their response have been?
I feel for the Muslim community in Great Britain who, perhaps for the first time, realize the deadly serious nature of the threat they face. Will they draw the correct conclusions? Or will they continue to condemn terrorist incidents in general terms while playing politics with their supposed victimization? It's time for them to put up or shut up.
If, as a recent poll suggests, 25% of British Muslims sympathize with what the 7/7 bombers were trying to accomplish, then additional tragedies will occur including the very real possibility that they will find themselves even more ostracized and isolated than ever. And in extreme circumstances, their status as citizens could be at risk. How tolerant will the majority of Britains be if a wave of suicide attacks send casualty figures skyrocketing? Anything is possible when fear takes hold in democratic societies — just ask Japanese—Americans.
The bottom line is that this tragedy would not have occurred but for the War on Terror. When police shoot first and ask questions later it is right that we ask ourselves how far we're willing to go in giving up our liberty in order to be safe.
The banal quotation from Benjamin Franklin 'They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security' is totally inappropriate for any argument in the War on Terror. For it's not a question of 'security' we're talking about but rather a question of 'survival' — something Old Ben never had to face and couldn't possibly understand.
There will be an investigation and debate in Great Britain over this tragedy. This is what democratic societies do and should be viewed in that light. It is one of our strengths that we can discuss these matters and refine and redefine if necessary the basis on which our societies operate. The important thing is that trust be maintained between the governed and the governors. This trust or 'consent' is vitally necessary if government is going to be able to take the steps necessary to both protect us from the terrorists and yet allow the exercise of the very freedoms the terrorists seek to take away.
There will never be a definitive answer to the questions posed by the needless death of Mr. Menezes. Rather, like freedom itself, the answers will continue to evolve in response to specific situations as the free peoples of this earth seek to fend off the murderous advances of an enemy that seeks to take our lives, our freedoms, and our way of life. They can't defeat us on any battlefield. They can only win if we allow their threats to cow our resolve to maintain both security and liberty. For if we give in to the temptation to favor one at the expense of the other, something vital will have been lost that we may find impossible to retrieve; the trust that exists between us all which allows our freedoms to flourish.
Rick Moran is the proprietor of the blog Rightwing Nuthouse