Islamist Terrorism Again: A Herd of Elephants in the Room

The latest Islamic terrorist attacks in the West -- in England on Oct. 15, and Denmark two days earlier -- were shocking, given that the war on terror was supposedly behind us. These attacks raise questions.

At this point, there is not just one elephant in the room, but a whole herd.

For a start, initially, there was the usual reticence on the part of the mainstream (legacy) media to call the dreadful attacks acts of terrorism.  The Guardian --  always a friend to Islam, despite the contradictions between its support for feminism and gay rights and Islamic orthodoxy, which opposes both -- was quicker to acknowledge the Islamic terror link when, on October 15, a long-serving and popular English Member of Parliament, Sir David Amess, died after being stabbed 17 times in a frenzied but carefully-planned and executed attack by a man of Somalian heritage. Two days earlier the Guardian had been more reluctant to cite terrorism as a motive when five people died in the bloody attack in Kongsberg, Denmark, in which five people died. It was initially keen to downplay the link between Islamic ideology and terror attacks by telling its readers the perpetrator will undergo psychiatric evaluation. 

Ever keen to label Islamic terrorists as victims of mental health issues, this enthusiasm for using psychological problems as an excuse inevitably evaporates whenever supposed right-wing extremists and terrorists are identified. This elephant in the room is never discussed by the MSM.

Then there's the issue of 'radicalization,' as if there's a small cabal of atypical 'radicalizers' at work within the Islamic world that is the cause of all this mental ill-health.  But the strange aspect of all this is that these people are hardly ever identified.  Apart from one or two high-profile figures who've openly advocated terrorism, the Islamic world is notably short -- apparently -- on 'radicalizers'.  And what appears in the Koran and Hadith and other Islamic works cannot be to blame, we're told, because to criticize such works runs counter to the ideology of cultural relativism, which holds that all cultures must be understood only on their own terms.

This doesn't apply to Western culture and civilization, of course, which must always be blamed for everything.  To apply universalist moral concepts to other cultures -- such as Islam -- inevitably results in cries of 'Islamophobia' and the equally inevitable threats of harm and even death from those who we are led to believe by the MSM don't really exist.

When even showing a cartoon of Mohammed can provoke death threats, or worse, there's yet another elephant in the room: the fundamental incompatibility between orthodox Islamic culture and the liberal, pluralist culture of the West. The attacks on the staff of the irreligious satirical Charlie Hebdo publication, but also on a number of priests and churches in France, are emblematic of the wide scope of this issue.

Then there's the issue of how and why the person who killed five people in Kongsberg was allowed to continue to operate freely when there was apparently ample information available that could have led to him being identified as a person of interest to the authorities.  He had been posting inflammatory material on the internet since 2017

These terrorist attacks seem to follow a now distressingly predictable pattern of events.  A long phase of activity by the perpetrator growing increasingly hostile to the non-Islamic world, making increasingly explicit threats, eventually ending in a violent attack.  And when this happens, the Islamic world appears to shrug its shoulders and/or play the victim.  When in 2019 a 'far-right' terrorist attacked a mosque in New Zealand, the MSM couldn't restrain themselves from telling us how much at risk and victimized and afraid Muslims were.

But when the boot is on the other foot, the MSM is notably uninterested in how non-Muslims must be feeling.  There’s an asymmetry here which is yet another elephant in the room.

On a more abstract level, there's something else going on here, which is much more sinister.  This is called the 'polarization of the continuum', a term used by Carrol Quigley to refer to the way in which the rhetoric of extremism pushes opinion away from the center-ground towards the extremes.

It's the 'us and them' mentality: you are pushed to choose a side because staying in the middle means you get attacked by both sides.  Sometimes this polarization is justified, but it is also what unscrupulous cynical manipulators do whenever they can't get the desired support for their own position, and their first tactic is always to suppress moderate views by painting all their opponents as ‘extremists’.

The nonsense of the rhetoric of 'Islamophobia' means that informed, intelligent, open public debate about the elephants in the room is now all but impossible.  This means that the 'radicalizers' always only hinted at by the MSM will never be identified, and the 'radicalization' of new Islamic terrorists will continue with nothing effective ever being done about it.

Every time there's an Islamic terrorist incident the story is the same: multiple missed opportunities to apprehend and detain the suspect prior to the attack.  But somehow the authorities always seem to be inhibited from acting early enough.

This brings me to another elephant in the room: the apparent lack of resolve on the part of those who are supposed to be protecting us from these terrorists.  There simply isn't the political will or the courage to do anything about this problem, a problem that is costing lives and bringing suffering and misery to many more. From the lone wolf attacks to the disastrously chaotic U.S. military pullout in Afghanistan, this absence of will and leadership across the board is clear.

Finally, the last elephant in the room is the almost total lack of any focus on the Muslim communities in the West concerning what they might do about this problem that emerges from their midst.  Most Muslims are law-abiding and peaceful, and oppose terrorism; Islamist terrorism is as much their problem as it is that of non-Muslims.  But most Muslims seem to be reluctant to confront the issue of terrorists in their mosques (where the supposed 'radicalization' can only take place) for fear of themselves becoming the target of terrorism.

And that's a key insight here: why is it that Islam harbors such dark secrets which cannot ever be exposed to public scrutiny for fear of violent reprisals from some of the followers of what is claimed to be the 'religion of peace' by its apologists and propagandists?

If you wish to know, read the Koran.

This is a problem that will never go away unless Islam undergoes a process similar to what happened to Christianity in the late Middle Ages.  After centuries of internecine conflict, the opposing sides found a way of living peacefully together, which led to the development of the Western world as we know it today, founded on respect for universal individual human rights and freedoms, a principle which was gradually expanded to include everyone, not just Christians.

Islam did undergo a reformation during the 11th and 12th centuries (by the Western dating system) but this failed and the earlier violent orthodoxy was re-imposed.  This led to the gradual descent of Islamic culture into mediocrity and political decline, resulting in Islamic countries falling under the sway of Western empires during the 19th century.

But in recent decades, the liberal pluralist West has become hospitable to the idea that non-reformed Islam is a 'religion of peace' when the historical evidence is to the contrary, at least as regards its agenda towards non-Muslims.

This means the threat (and impact) of Islamic terrorism will be with us for a long time yet.

Wen Wryte is the pseudonym of a retired teacher of philosophy.

Image: Pixabay / Pixabay License

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