MEMORIAL DAY IS A GOOD TIME FOR
CAREFUL THINKING ABOUT TERRORISM
The carnage at that Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England has brought forth some really stupid statements. For instance, interviewed by Anderson Cooper on CNN, terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank shared that…
“in recent months in Europe there’s been a number of false flag plots where right-wing extremists have tried to frame Islamists for terrorism.”
Blessedly, Cruickshank didn’t carry this line of speculation too far. Somehow, a guy named Salman Abedi blowing himself up with a bunch of innocent little girls didn’t have a right-wing feel about it.
“No barriers, no borders, we all just need to co-exist.”
Okay, Katy. I’ll ignore the implied slam at Trump’s border wall and just suggest that you and all your sister pop tarts go over to Syria, look up the ISIS guys, and deliver your impassioned plea to them.
Let me know how that turns out.
Less idiotic, but just as naïve, the news anchor for a TV station I watch presented a local-angle tie-in story about a Michigan man who survived an earlier terrorist assault. Wrapping up the segment, she opined that the goal of terrorists is to make us afraid to live our lives in a normal way.
Her analysis parroted a common line of reportage that sees terrorism as an effort to change behavior — as if Salman Abedi had been concerned that little English girls ought not be going to Ariana Grande concerts.
Behavior isn’t really the immediate issue in such incidents. What the terrorists want to do is force us all to become Muslims and submit to Sharia Law. That’s what would change our behavior.
After each of these atrocities there’s always an intensive hunt for links to terrorist networks or to the Islamic State (suspected collaborators have already been arrested in Manchester). This investigative work is important. It might help the authorities in foiling other plots.
But whether we’re talking intricate, far-reaching conspiracies or the random action of a so-called “lone wolf,” one factor is common to pretty much all terrorist incidents perpetrated in the West: Muslim assimilation — or rather, resistance to it.
Indeed, Salman Abedi is a veritable poster boy for non-assimilation. British-born and educated, with Libyan roots, he made the ultimate statement against the land of his birth, detonating his suicide vest in a crowd of teen and pre-teen music fans, killing 22 people.
His alienation from mainstream British society was already evident. The UK press has reported that Abedi had been on the authorities’ radar well before the Manchester strike.
Neighbors had noticed changes in his appearance and activities. And he had exhibited extreme hostility toward the imam of a mosque he attended after the religious leader preached against ISIS. So much so that fellow worshipers positioned themselves during prayer to protect the imam, should Abedi attack him.
This pattern — the pre-awareness of a potential terrorist by police or security agencies — has been seen many times before. Such individuals have even been given a name: “Known Wolf Terrorists.” Last fall, Sean Hannity posted a list that included…
– Ahmad Khan Rahami, who set off bombs in New York City and Elizabeth, New Jersey,
– Carlos Leon Bledsoe, attacker of the Marine recruiting station in Arkansas,
– Major Nidal Hassan, who killed 13 people in a shooting rampage at Fort Hood,
– Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the brothers responsible for the Boston Marathon bombing,
– Omar Mateen, the shooter at Orlando’s Pulse gay nightclub
All had done something to draw official notice prior to their dramatic, evil acts. But some legal protection or administrative restraint had kept the authorities from taking action that might have prevented later tragedy.
Public frustration over this recurring problem was one of the factors that put Donald Trump in the White House. And the blocking of Trump’s proposed temporary ban on immigration from certain Muslim countries is bound to make folks angrier.
Of course, people’s feelings are by no means without conflict. Consider how pissed off everybody was when they began to realize that the Patriot Act, George Bush’s effort to tighten domestic security, also brought certain restrictions on our personal mobility and intrusions into our privacy.
It’s the old cake cliché — eating it versus still having it. As a society, we don’t handle that sort of conundrum very well.
Still, Americans have been supremely patient in the years since 9/11. Despite all the hair-pulling about so-called Islamophobia, there has been no noticeable persecution of the Muslim community in whose name terrorists claim to do their horrific deeds.
Yes, a few mosques were infiltrated by government agents back during the Bush era. There have been some isolated (limited) physical expressions of anger — mostly of the verbal or graffiti variety. Burka-glad women receive dirty looks. But that’s pretty much it.
Something is changing, however.
Terrorist outrages have become so frequent, both here and around the world — ie: this week’s deadly ISIS-inspired invasion of a Philippines Catholic church, and the slaughter of 28 Coptic Christians in Egypt — one senses that people are getting tired of the candle-light prayer vigils and the mounds of flowers and teddy bears and the grief counselors offering their comforting pats on the back.
They want our authorities to figure out better ways of spotting likely terrorists and then taking action to keep those suspicious individuals from getting beyond the likely stage.
They want something more too. Much more.
Writing on the conservative blog, Townhall, retired U.S. Army strategic specialist Kurt Schlichter gives voice to this growing collective desire…
“The only appropriate reaction is righteous fury that turns into a grim determination to exact a retribution upon the bomber’s bros so thorough and so comprehensive that in a thousand years the few descendants of the survivors will still terrify their children with the story of the vengeance exacted by the avengers of the West.”
David French of National Review echoes that sentiment. After the slaughter of their children, he advises the British people to ignore calls for restraint and perspective …
“Give in to your ‘thirst for vengeance.’ In a manner that is consistent with the laws of war and the great tradition of British arms, make an example of ISIS. Destroy terrorist safe havens with prompt, decisive force, pursue terrorists wherever they flee, and send a clear message. Terrorists have sown the wind. They will reap the whirlwind. Avenge your fallen.”
The growing hunger for pay-back in blood may not speak well of our Christian hearts, but it is what it is. And what it is, is human nature.
Acknowledging that not all Muslims are radicals or sympathetic to terrorism — per the imam who so infuriated Salman Abedi by preaching against ISIS — this “righteous fury” does hold the potential for that backlash which U.S. Muslims have feared. I don’t anticipate World War II-style internment camps. But it’s not hard to understand why Muslim voters went for Hillary in a big way.
Still, there are bad guys among us. And they’ve set themselves on a path of subversion and violence which they explicitly justify by Islamic teaching, whether or not most Muslims accept their interpretation.
More must be done than has been done in the past. And this Memorial Day, as we remember the great sacrifices made in earlier fights for freedom and national security, let us give serious thought to exactly what we should demand of our leaders — and what price we’re willing to pay in civil liberties.
And let us think clearly. We’re at war.
We can’t abandon Christian love and let ourselves become consumed by our “righteous fury.” That wouldn’t be wise, either morally or strategically.
But surely God does not accept the deaths of little girls — or of any innocents.
…and to David French’s at National Review…
I explored the problem of Muslim non-assimilation in an essay I wrote for the online journal, Ethika Politika, back in May of 2014. Titled “Muslims, Secularists, and The American Idea,” it explored the reluctance of many Muslim immigrants to embrace American culture. I took a big-picture approach, examining situation against a backdrop of declining attachment to traditional Western faiths and religion-based ethics.
Then please, do share your thoughts in the comments section below…