What do we bicker about, when bickering about ‘terrorism’?


8:34 am - May 24th 2013

by Flying Rodent    


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What do we bicker about, when we bicker about terrorism?  More or less everything except terrorism, is my suspicion. 

Here are a few of my observations about the responses I’ve seen to the bloodcurdling horror in Woolwich, starting with 

1) When a guy who has just beheaded a man while shouting about Allah is shown explaining that he did it because of violence perpetrated by British soldiers in “Our lands”, it’s probably okay to call him a Jihadist or an Islamist terrorist-wannabe. 

You’d think this would be uncontroversial, given that beheading-while-shouting-about-God is one of the Jihadi’s favourite pastimes, and that publicly justifying yourself with standard Jihadi boo-hoo can reasonably be described as “Jihadist behaviour”. 

But you’d be wrong.

I expect it’s possible that these arseholes were crazy*  wannabe-Glorious Warriors of God, but we all know that the sole requirement for being a Jihadi is saying that you are one. That is, after all, the whole point of Al-Qaeda and its offshoots – anyone can join in, by declaring that you want to do so.

There are times when a man bloodily decapitates another in the street while shouting Jihadist slogans.  At moments like this, a rush to judgement is probably justifiable.  If anything, it’s reasons to doubt Jihadomentalist reasoning that may need backing up in this scenario.

2) While it’s certainly true that 99.99% of Muslims are not bloodthirsty Jihadi arseholes, it is also necessary to point out that a sufficiently worrying number are.  

It’s great to see how many people are at pains to note that most Muslims are no happier with psycho-murderers than any section of the the UK’s populace.

Nonetheless, I do have to point out that Jihadi arseholes are a conspicuous and alarming problem whose ability to sow hatred and discord is wildly disproportionate to their meagre numbers, and that this has to be discussed with clear eyes and no illusions.

Going apeshit every time anybody mentions the supremacist Islamist theories popular among most who commit these very specific murderous acts isn’t helping the situation, and is probably helping those who want to inflame it.

Yes, there are “media narratives” and people looking to exploit this or that, but neither I nor the public at large are much worried that “the media” are going to set off nailbombs in our cities.

3) When lots of criminals keep telling you their crimes were motivated by (x), then their crimes are more likely to have been motivated by (x) than by whatever theory you have just pulled out of your arse. 

We’ve seen this one before – some twatty little gimp stands up in court and says that yes, he committed acts of terrorism because yes, he’s a Soldier of God in a war that encompasses Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan.

And folk stand around stroking their chins wondering what he can possibly have meant by such a statement.

I’m aware that Islamism didn’t spring into being fully-formed from nowhere; I’m also aware that it barely needs grievances to justify whatever destruction it wants to commit.  I’m also aware that it won’t go away if we would only tickle its ears and give it a saucer of milk.

But when folk insist on continuing to kill themselves and other people and then justifying it by calling it revenge for this or that disastrous foreign policy catastrofuck, they probably mean that they’re angry enough about our foreign policy to kill and die over it.

This is one of the great unsayables, for much of this country’s pundit class.  To note it is to attract accusations that you’re saying that you deserve to be killed, and so on.  Sadly for fannies of this ilk, this issue is totally impervious to our feelings about it.  

Or, in shorter form – just because a man’s statements are highly inconvenient for your personal foreign policy preferences, doesn’t mean they aren’t true.


A longer version of this piece is here.

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About the author
Flying Rodent is a regular contributor and blogs more often at: Between the Hammer and the Anvil. He is also on Twitter.
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Reader comments


Hello Rodent: I’m glad to see that you seem to have considerably modified your views since you tried to argue against Clive’s demolition of the “blowback’ argument, here:

http://shirazsocialist.wordpress.com/2011/09/18/clive-on-the-blowback-argument/

But I would still take issue with your simplistic view that “When lots of criminals keep telling you their crimes were motivated by (x), then their crimes are more likely to have been motivated by (x) than by whatever theory you have just pulled out of your arse.”

Does that apply to *all* criminals and *all* explanations given by them, or only to Islamists?

Logically, your position would seem to dispense with any requirement for independent, objective thought and analysis. And also, of course, for criminal investigations and trials. We should, presumably, just take the perpetrators’ own explanations at face value.

tbh i view jihad types the same way i view Irish dissidents or EDL types :

they wish to create a binary world where they are important.

they claim to wish to improve the world yet wont make any effort to do so.

and there will always be people willing top buy into their idiocy.

tldr – people make decisions people are responsible for their actions no exceptions

3. white trash

A very cogent post.

But if the subtext of this is intended to be that we have a problem only with Islamism and Jihadism (not to mention a mental health crisis) then it is only one part of the story.

4. Douglas Hayward

I think your argument would have more authority if you didn’t use synthetically emotive blokey language.

“Nonetheless, I do have to point out that Jihadi arseholes are a conspicuous and alarming problem whose ability to sow hatred and discord is wildly disproportionate to their meagre numbers”

You are a bit stupid aren’t you. Your evidence is what? In the Guardian an ex-solider who knows what he is talking about says

It should by now be self-evident that by attacking Muslims overseas, you will occasionally spawn twisted and, as we saw yesterday, even murderous hatred at home. We need to recognise that, given the continued role our government has chosen to play in the US imperial project in the Middle East, we are lucky that these attacks are so few and far between.

I agree with this soldier and disagree with you.

I don’t think The British government paid 14 million compensation-so far with more cases pending- to Iraqis for British soldiers tickling them under their chins did they?

If the British Army conducted military action in Amritsar to this extent against Sikhs none of whom were responsible for 9/11 or 7/7 for ten years what would you expect young Sikhs over here to turn out like?

A bit confused no? But I am sure none of their actions would have anything to do with foreign policy would it you muppet.

5 – these people are British though. They were born here.

8. Shatterface

3) When lots of criminals keep telling you their crimes were motivated by (x), then their crimes are more likely to have been motivated by (x) than by whatever theory you have just pulled out of your arse.

Except when the criminal says they are waging war (a) in the name of Islam and and (b) against imperial aggression in which case people like yourself will accept (b) and strenuously deny (a).

9. Shatterface

But if the subtext of this is intended to be that we have a problem only with Islamism and Jihadism (not to mention a mental health crisis) then it is only one part of the story.

This isn’t about ‘mental health’.if someone’s beliefs are shared by a group of people from the same community it is neurotypical behaviour within that group and can’t be ‘treated’ on an individual level.

It’s insulting to the mentally ill to lump religious fanatics in with them: you can’t manage religious fanaticism with pills or CBT – you have to tackle the beliefs of the community and if that community thinks women, homosexuals or non-believers are, at best, cattle, then those beliefs have to be dealt with.

Agree with all three points.

11. andrew adams

Except when the criminal says they are waging war (a) in the name of Islam and and (b) against imperial aggression in which case people like yourself will accept (b) and strenuously deny (a).

Except that FR explicitly accepts (a) when he says “When a guy who has just beheaded a man while shouting about Allah is shown explaining that he did it because of violence perpetrated by British soldiers in “Our lands”, it’s probably okay to call him a Jihadist or an Islamist terrorist-wannabe.”

Which invasion motivated 9/11?

The first attempt to blow up the World Trade Centre in New York was in February 1993.

14. TorquilMacneil

“But when folk insist on continuing to kill themselves and other people and then justifying it by calling it revenge for this or that disastrous foreign policy catastrofuck, they probably mean that they’re angry enough about our foreign policy to kill and die over it.”

Does this follow for other groups? When Tories claim over and over that they are cutting welfare provision out of a heartfelt compassion for the poor, should we take them at face value too?

Does this follow for other groups?

It follows for other groups without obvious incentives to misrepresent their motives — a category into which people standing for office do not fit.

Why do people buy in to the “Jihadist narrative” that Iraq and Afghanistan are “wars against Muslims”?

Iraq was against Baathists. Afghanistan was against Islamists. Kosovo was against Serb nationalists and in defence of a Muslim minority. Kuwait was in defence of a Kuwaiti monarchy against a Baathist dictatorship.

There has not and never been a “war against Muslims”. This is Al Qaida tosh. Why do Leftists buy in to it?

17. TorquilMacneil

“It follows for other groups without obvious incentives to misrepresent their motives — a category into which people standing for office do not fit.”

But our jihadist does have obvious reasons to misrepresent his views. if he said ‘I just like chopping people’s heads off’ he would not be an international celebrity and would not be venerated by thousands of jihadist loons. Rodent and others have to holdthat this murderer genuinely believed that chopping the head off a soldier would alter UK foreign policy (and which policy exactly? we are busy withdrawing from Muslim lands) if they want to believe he is sincere.

And you, Torquil, have to believe that all his furious ranting and raving into the camera was all a carefully planned act. To which I can only reply that he appeared pretty sincere to me.

But if you can persuade yourself to buy that, then why not go the whole hog and consider the possibility that he was an MI5 operative?

19. TorquilMacneil

“And you, Torquil, have to believe that all his furious ranting and raving into the camera was all a carefully planned act. To which I can only reply that he appeared pretty sincere to me.”

It was the fact that it was so obviously unplanned that made it look suss to me. The Tube bombers had a carefully articulated ideological position, this bloke just rambled excitedly about ‘our lands’ by which he meant ‘south of the river’ I assume. Do you really believe that if British foreign policy had been different this man would not be a homicidal lunatic? Can you honestly think he is expecting that British foreign policy will now change, and in what way exactly? Did he say? Or are you so naive that you cannot believe that someone would do anything like this just to be famous? Next you will be telling me that Anders Breivik was genuinely concerned to save Norway from multiculturalism and thought that his shooting spree might just do it.

Next you will be telling me that Anders Breivik was genuinely concerned to save Norway from multiculturalism and thought that his shooting spree might just do it.

Ok, Torquil, you’ve got me there.

Obviously Breivik isn’t really bothered about multiculturalism in the slightest bit. His 1500 page manifesto on the subject was self-evidently just a carefully prepared cover story.

21. Shatterface

Which invasion motivated 9/11?

Al Qaeda have time travel fascilities: the 1993 attack was revenge for the invasion of Afghanistan but it was foiled by Sarah Connor so they tried again on 9/11.

“suss”?

So converting to Islam, joining a bunch of Choudry’s loons was just a ruse so a decade later he could justify chopping someone’s head off, along with his mate?

Premeditated madness?

“Al Qaeda have time travel fascilities: the 1993 attack was revenge for the invasion of Afghanistan”

As I understood, the attack on the World Trade Centre in February 1993 was in revenge for the Christian Crusades in Medieval times. The First Crusade was called in 1095. Admittedly, that Crusade turned out to be a truly shameful series of massacres of indigenous peoples but recall that the Moors had invaded Spain and installed Islam there in 715, more than 300 years earlier.

The fact is that Islam was spread by the sword, which is how Buddhism, the prevailing religion in western China, was displaced by Islam. Try: The Silk Road – The Art Gallery in the Desert
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7o-PDuz_xsQ

The troubles in recent years between the Uyghurs and Han peoples in Xinjiang Province in north-west China are one of consequences.

Recap: The Battle of Vienna in 1683 successfully fought off a seige by the Islamic armies of the Ottoman Empire.

24. TorquilMacneil

“Obviously Breivik isn’t really bothered about multiculturalism in the slightest bit. His 1500 page manifesto on the subject was self-evidently just a carefully prepared cover story.”

You really believe that if Norway had had tougher immigration policies, Breivik would have turned his energies to peaceful ends?

“So converting to Islam, joining a bunch of Choudry’s loons was just a ruse so a decade later he could justify chopping someone’s head off, along with his mate?”

How does converting to Islam justify cutting someone’s head off? Nobody has explained that. Rodent thinks it self evident that it was a political action, but hasn’t explained which political outcome was being sought. Personally I think that people who cut other people’s heads off when they don’t have to probably do it because they like doing it. Occam agrees with me. If you want to believe they do it because ‘Bliar’ or something similar, fill your boots.

25. white trash

9 “It’s insulting to the mentally ill to lump religious fanatics in with them”

Not at all.

Hyper-religiosity is part of the recognised symptomatology of some psychological and psychiatric disorders. See for example in this paper:

http://arno.uvt.nl/show.cgi?fid=114836

You really believe that if Norway had had tougher immigration policies, Breivik would have turned his energies to peaceful ends?

I don’t know and neither do you. It’s possible that, if the political situation had been different, he would have found something else to obsess over in isolation for years on end, whipping himself into a murderous fury… maybe My Chemical Romance breaking up, or the discontinuing of Vanilla Coke.

Equally, perhaps he wouldn’t. Occam does not offer easy answers to difficult counterfactuals, however hard you may insist to the contrary.

Either way, though, in this version of reality, I’d say that he showed more than a passing concern with multiculturalism. Wouldn’t you?

27. TorquilMacneil

“I don’t know and neither do you. It’s possible that, if the political situation had been different, he would have found something else to obsess over…”

We don’t know, but we can speculate. What do you think?

“Either way, though, in this version of reality, I’d say that he showed more than a passing concern with multiculturalism. Wouldn’t you?”

Yeah, and I didn’t believe a word of it, did you?

28. white trash

6 “these people are British though. They were born here.”

“These people” may be technically British and have UK passports, but like many 2nd and 3rd generation entrants here they probably don’t feel British. Many feel confused, conflicted, alienated. And who can blame them?

29. Shatterface

Hyper-religiosity is part of the recognised symptomatology of some psychological and psychiatric disorders. See for example in this paper:

http://arno.uvt.nl/show.cgi?fid=114836

All of which is more than cancelled out by the Crusades, Holy Wars, Inquisitions, honour killings, stonings, lynchings, beatings, child molestations and sexual mutilations carried out by perfectly ‘sane’ believers.

When we use terms like ‘mad’ to desribe religions it’s just a metaphor, like ‘incorporation’ of companies: no amount of psychiatric intervention is going to make the slightest difference to these kinds of attacks.

30. white trash

@9 It also sounds like you probably haven’t spent enough time knocking around the political and religious fringes to understand the feedback between religious and political far-outery and mental disorders.

For a few examples, the links between Christian evangelism and alcohol and substance abuse are thick and fast. Many evangelical recruits have merely bounced from substance addiction to religious addiction.

Anarchist, Left and Green circles also attract a good deal more people with mental health problems than is good for any of those involved.

Quite a number of the Baader Meinhof Group started off in the Socialist Patients Collective, an uncomfortable fact which revisionist Wikipedians are trying to cover up, but to which more scholarly literature attests.

Our society (ie the Anglosphere, the West) is generating mental ill health far more effectively than it can even begin to treat or care for it.

And on top of our own mental health crises we are now also receiving quite substantial numbers of people from zones of war and civil disorder who are extremely traumatised yet, like us natives, largely receive little or no treatment and care.

31. white trash

@23 BobB “Admittedly, that Crusade turned out to be a truly shameful series of massacres of indigenous peoples”

Even more insane than that though, Bob. The Crusaders harassed and killed huge numbers of Christians as well, partly because the Crusades were at least as much about land hunger and ruling class status-seeking as about religion and partly because the Western Papal church hated and misunderstood the Eastern Orthodox church.

But yes, I agree with you, the 9/11 attacks were at least in part response to the attackers’ perceptions of Western action.

32. Chaise Guevara

@ 28 White Trash

““These people” may be technically British and have UK passports, but like many 2nd and 3rd generation entrants here they probably don’t feel British. Many feel confused, conflicted, alienated. And who can blame them?”

I think the point is that it’s weird to say Muslims should adapt to the country they “choose” to live in when they were born here. I mean, they should follow the law, but that’s painfully obvious and true of everyone else.

So when someone says that Muslims specifically should “adapt” to Britain even though they were born here, what that really means is “Muslims, unlike me, shouldn’t get to complain about things”. It probably also means that they assume every Muslim is a 1st-gen immigrant, which in turn means that they’re a bit of a plonker. But we knew that.

33. Shatterface

Anarchist, Left and Green circles also attract a good deal more people with mental health problems than is good for any of those involved.

Have you any evidence of that as anecdotal evidence suggests a preponderence of mental health issues on the Right due to centuries of inbreading.

34. white trash

33: sorry, wasn’t intending to imply the right aren’t full of flakes as well, I guess if you spend enough time with BNPers or on Frormstunt then you’ll find plenty of evidence of people there with, ahem, issues. But funnily enough, I don’t fancy that. Bit heavy duty!

Written evidence of Anarcho-Left-Green people with mental problems? – just take a regular look at any Indymedia site, especially the comments section.

Also, Freedom, or Black Flag newspaper (can’t remember which now) even ran an article a number of years ago saying people with mental health problems being attracted to the movement was an issue.

Just go along to a few events and get chatting, you’ll see what I mean.

You are a bit stupid aren’t you. Your evidence is what?
—–

http://www.dreamyoga.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/Twin-Towers.gif

Are you trying to be fucking funny, because you arent.

31 Whitetrash: “But yes, I agree with you, the 9/11 attacks were at least in part response to the attackers’ perceptions of Western action.”

There are extensive precedents for Islamic attacks on western places and people going back centuries. The propagated claim that Islam is a peaceful religion is a complete myth with no basis in historical reality.

Recall the opening lyrics of the US Marine Corps maching song: From the halls of montezuma / To the shores of tripoli;

“the shores of tripoli” is a reference to the first engagements of the fledgling US Navy in 1801/05 against Barbary Coast pirates, who had been attacking American merchant ships trading in the Mediterranean.

As a matter of record, the pirates raided coastal areas in the north Mediterranean and along the Atlantic coast of Europe, as far north as Ireland and southern England, to seize booty and capture slaves. Young women captives were especially valued for sale into the white slave trade. Historians estimate the number of slaves captured over the decades in which the barbary coast pirates flourished as between 800,000 to 1.25 million people.

For comparison, slavery was declared unlawful in England in the Mansfield judgement in the Somersett case in 1772. Parliament voted to ban the slave trade in 1807 and to ban slavery throughout the British empire in 1833, the year Wilberforce died. Christians of the Clapham Sect, to which Wilberforce belonged, had been extensively engaged in the campaign against slavery for decades before Parliament finally voted to ban the trade – after, it might be noted, the Royal Navy had established naval supremacy at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

Try this on: Slavery in the Middle East
http://www.meforum.org/189/slavery-in-the-middle-east

37. Shatterface

Written evidence of Anarcho-Left-Green people with mental problems? – just take a regular look at any Indymedia site, especially the comments section.

My original point was that religious fanaticism is not a ‘mental health issue’ in the sense of something which is attributable to a failure of the mental health services.

Religious fanaticism is a social problem, and has to be tackled as such: the dynamics of social problem’s aren’t reducable to individual pathology any more than, say, rioting or bureaucracy.

12. cjcj

Which invasion motivated 9/11?

Bin Laden said it was infidel troops in Saudi Arabia which was against Islam. He repeatedly asked for their withdrawal and fell out with the Saudi leadership himself over this doctrinal argument and eventually invited a US journalist to witness him declare a fatwa on the United States.

16. Boyo

Why do people buy in to the “Jihadist narrative”

Iraqi leaders might be Bathist, Afghan enemies might be Islamist. Would you agree that the cumulative effect is Non Muslim control/influence over resources in predominately Muslim countries?

What do you think about the deal historically between oppressive dictators in Muslim countries and the West? Or am I a lefty who has believed Jihadist propoganda?

Point taken about 9/11. That was 19 guys with a huge effect. Generally since then apart from 7/7 we haven’t noticed a disproportionate effect have we, granted there have been plots that have been foiled, the whole purpose of terr-ism is to have a disproportionate effect and in those terms it hasn’t been very successful, it doesn’t even seem popular anymore.

39. white trash

Chaise @32 There may be some misunderstanding(s) here. Comment 6 was referring to comment 5, and I understood comment 6’s point to be that the Woolwich terrorists were born in Britain so why would they care enough about Islamic or foreign issues enough to take such extreme action as they did.

It’s not about whether immigrants should or shouldn’t “adapt” to Britain and British mores, the fact is many offspring of immigrants have actively gone in the opposite direction because they feel so alienated from British culture (which in too many instances like the Saturday night piss-up-vomit-fight is pretty repulsive) that they want as little of it as possible, and in some cases are actively plotting its downfall.

“Bin Laden said it was infidel troops in Saudi Arabia which was against Islam”

He would say that, wouldn’t he? Try this on Terrorism in Saudi Arabia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terrorism_in_Saudi_Arabia

In the 1990s through the 2000s, a succession of terrorist incidents raised concerns about the stability of the ruling regime in Saudi Arabia.

41. white trash

@37 “religious fanaticism is not a ‘mental health issue’ in the sense of something which is attributable to a failure of the mental health services.”

Not in the Soviet sense, clearly, but the point I am making is that some individuals are attracted to extremism because of their underlying mental health issues, and that once involved in those circles their pre-existing mental health problems will tend to be exacerbated by the progressive psychological disconnection from the rest of society caused by their becoming wrapped up in the extreme mind-set and activities.

42. white trash

Bob @36 Totally agree with you in that the idea that Islam is a “religion of peace” is a load of made up cobblers playing on the fact that most of us are ignorant of history, culture and language.

As far as my rudimentary knowledge of Arabic goes the language functions on a system of tri-literal roots.

In the case of the word mu-s-l-im, the root is s-l-m and means one who submits (to the will of God). It is cognate with the words sa-l-aa-m, meaning peace and the word ta-s-li-m, meaning submission.

What this points towards is that, to the Arab-speaking mind, peace = submission.

In other words, submit to Allah and you will attain peace.

The reverse also applies. Fail to submit and you will have no peace!

43 Whitetrash: “The reverse also applies. Fail to submit and you will have no peace!”

That’s not very different to the hegemony of the Catholic Church in western Europe prior to the Reformation.

Heretics were likely to be put to death – in the mercifully short reign of Mary Tudor (1553-58), at least 287 people were burned at the stake for refusing to acknowledge the supremacy of the Catholic Church. There’s a plaque on the wall of Balliol College, Oxford, to commemorate the death by burning of the Oxford Martyrs (1555/6) – Latimer, Ridley and Cranmer.

The doctrine of the Divine Right of Monarchs in Britain came to an abrupt end in 1688 when the sitting monarch, James II, fled in fear of his life – he was popularly suspected of being a Catholic – and Parliament voted to invite William of Orange and his wife Mary, daughter of James, to rule jointly in his place. That established the principle that the monarchy in Britain ruled with the consent of the governed, not by Divine Right.

Try this Channel4 documentary on: Islam – The Untold Story
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dm8xKh8eQqU

It casts doubt on whether the historic roots of Islam were located in Saudi Arabia, as widely believed.

44. Chaise Guevara

@ white trash

“There may be some misunderstanding(s) here. Comment 6 was referring to comment 5, and I understood comment 6?s point to be that the Woolwich terrorists were born in Britain so why would they care enough about Islamic or foreign issues enough to take such extreme action as they did.”

Oh, OK. For the record I wasn’t saying you were taking the “they should adapt” line, I was just throwing my tuppenceworth in on what that really means.

“It’s not about whether immigrants should or shouldn’t “adapt” to Britain and British mores, the fact is many offspring of immigrants have actively gone in the opposite direction because they feel so alienated from British culture (which in too many instances like the Saturday night piss-up-vomit-fight is pretty repulsive) that they want as little of it as possible, and in some cases are actively plotting its downfall.”

Very possibly, and I feel I should add (again, without implying you meant the opposite) that this applies to plenty of non-Muslims too. There’s all kind of dangerous cults who think society needs saving from itself. Insert joke about political parties here.

45. Shatterface

Very possibly, and I feel I should add (again, without implying you meant the opposite) that this applies to plenty of non-Muslims too.

Yet there doesn’t seem to be many terrorist attacks perpetrated by Hindus, Sikhs or, for that matter, Christian groups: Adebolaj came from a Christian family and didn’t actually behead anyone till he converted to Islam.

There may be plenty of ‘cults’ which think ‘society needs saving’ but in the UK it’s only Islamists who are trying to ‘save’ it by hacking off heads and boasting about it or blowing up ‘slags’ in nighclubs.

Britain has previous experience of terrorism motivated by religious extremism. Recall that each year on 5 November we celebrate our deliverance from an abortive attempt by Catholic conspirators to blow up Parliament at the state opening in 1605.

“Guy Fawkes could have changed the face of London if his 1605 plot had not been foiled, explosion experts have said.”
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3240135.stm

It took Parliament until 1829 to extend full citizenship rights to Catholics in the Catholic Tolerance Act.

47. Chaise Guevara

@ 45 Shatterface

“Yet there doesn’t seem to be many terrorist attacks perpetrated by Hindus, Sikhs or, for that matter, Christian groups: Adebolaj came from a Christian family and didn’t actually behead anyone till he converted to Islam.”

Comes down to what we qualify as terrorism again. I think we can agree that Adebolaj’s actions and the similar murders of gay men by Christians in Africa are at least both bloody awful, even if you insist on quibbling over words.

“There may be plenty of ‘cults’ which think ‘society needs saving’ but in the UK it’s only Islamists who are trying to ‘save’ it by hacking off heads and boasting about it or blowing up ‘slags’ in nighclubs.”

I don’t actually know about either of those things happening, although I could well have missed it. But you’re being suspiciously specific here, in that you’ve designed things so that non-beheading murders and explosions not involving the word “slag” don’t count. I contend that no Muslim ever murdered someone and then said a Hail Mary, ergo Christianity is the source of all our problems.

48. flyingrodent

I do love this – people all over the world keep trying to murder folk and when caught, they all stand up and say some variation on “I am a soldier of God and I am fighting back against your atrocities/invasions/occupations etc.”…

…But truly, a bunch of people on the internet know what they really meant.

I’ve long since ceased to be surprised when people respond to folk pointing out obvious facts like “We can tell these murderous loonies are pissed off about issue (x) because they keep telling everyone they’re pissed off about issue (x)” by then pretending that this implies agreement with murderous loonies.

As it happens, I think murdering random Britons in some kind of half-arsed “revenge” for UK foreign policy is an obscene and moronic act that will achieve nothing but unnecessary death and misery.

I don’t actually think that, because these tubes keep saying they’re pissed off about Afghanistan, that means they’re right about Afghanistan.

But then, you’ll know that an argument has gone well past the point of total and utter retardation when you have to explain slowly and clearly that terrorism isn’t cool.

49. flyingrodent

And let’s also note how strange it is that some folk keep telling us we should look Islamism and terrorism in the face, and see them for what they are; that we should take their pronouncements at face value and not invent excuses or try to put our own interpretations on their statements…

…Right up until the point where Islamists & terrorists say something that may say inconvenient things about our fucknut foreign policy, at which point all dissolves into a formless, gaseous miasma of doubt that can only be interpreted via chicken entrails and tea leaves.

And how very, very convenient that all is.

I agree with you about that. At the same time, there is a tendency from people coming at this from the opposite direction to work backwards from the fact of particular atrocities that are committed by terrorists or the Taliban or whoever to the moral status of our foreign policy in general. As in, if our foreign policy were just, people wouldn’t do this. However, people in fact do do this. Therefore, our foreign policy is not just. Which is not wrong from a logical point of view, but it does rest on a faulty premise, as far as I’m concerned.

51. flyingrodent

Which is not wrong from a logical point of view, but it does rest on a faulty premise, as far as I’m concerned.

Indeed. Similarly, I don’t think Anders Breivik killed all those people because of an actually-existing massive, many-tentacled Marxo-Jihadist plot to exterminate white people that is actually real.

But I do think that he killed them because he himself believes that there is an actually-existing massive, many-tentacled Marxo-Jihadist plot to exterminate white people.

The reason why I think that is, he wrote a massive wanky boo-hoo “manifesto” explaining at tedious length and in elaborate detail that he killed those people because he believes that there is an actually-existing etc. etc.

Now, compare this to the points being made on this thread about psycho-killing Jihadists. A comparable reaction to Breivik would have been to stroke our chins and ask, That can’t be why he killed those people. What’s his REAL motivation?

And in fact, lots of fannies did do this, and are still doing it now. Thus, do we spawn infinite thinktanks and correspondents and analysts and experts, all of them dedicated to explaining why hateful nutters like Breivik kill people.

This, despite the fact that Breivik has already told us why he killed those people, at tedious length and in elaborate detail.

London, 1605 – I was shockede to see it being suggestede that the supposede “Gunpowder Plote” might have had something to do with anti-Catholic persecutione. This apologises for terrorisme! Wilt thou not condemne…

Vimothy

Which is not wrong from a logical point of view, but it does rest on a faulty premise, as far as I’m concerned.

Yes, I would agree with this. Islamic terrorists tend to be inspired by the dreadful supremacism and hatred of jihadist thought, but it is also true to say that few things would make jihadism seem more compelling to someone than being confronted with the spectacle of non-Muslim violence, and that once you’ve become a jihadist few things are more liable to piss you off than non-Muslims in Muslim lands. It does not mean that they are latter-day Nelson Mandelas, still less latter-day Gandhis, but it does mean that when they say they are pissed off they probably are.

Dave

If the British Army conducted military action in Amritsar to this extent against Sikhs none of whom were responsible for 9/11 or 7/7 for ten years what would you expect young Sikhs over here to turn out like?

The U.S. spent much of the twentieth century making a series of South American countries horrible to live in yet we have seen little Chilean or Guatemalan campaigns against the West. Lots of the Muslims who have turned to violence have been enraged by Western militarism, but what influences their subsequent behaviour is the fact that when they open their religious texts, seeking guidance, they can find lots of passages about fighting non-believers.

54. Shatterface

I do love this – people all over the world keep trying to murder folk and when caught, they all stand up and say some variation on “I am a soldier of God and I am fighting back against your atrocities/invasions/occupations etc.”…

…But truly, a bunch of people on the internet know what they really meant.

If someone killed a bunch of Jews – I’m sure there’s a precedent – and said (a) he hates Jews because (b) Jews secretly control the world I’d be inclined to believe (a) and disbelieve (b); I don’t think it is necessary for Jews to ask themselves why anti-Semites hate them so and modify their behaviour accordingly. (Ben White might beg to differ.)

You seem to believe that if someone kills Westerners and declares that (c) he hates the West, because (d) the West is responsible for all the ills of the world that (d) that the West must ask itself why Islamists hate them so.

These attacks started long before the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.

For info, try this History Channel documentary on Zawahiri in a historical context
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0B6kLyH26M

Zawahiri became head of al-Qaeda after the death of Osama Bin Laden on 2 May 2011.

56. flyingrodent

You seem to believe that if someone kills Westerners and declares that (c) he hates the West, because (d) the West is responsible for all the ills of the world that (d) that the West must ask itself why Islamists hate them so.

That word “seem” is doing so much heavy lifting in this claim that it just broke your spine and crushed you under the weight of its hilarity.

What do you expect this kind of obnoxious, anally-extracted assertion to achieve? I’ve already said that Jihadism will find idiotic grievances where none exist. So why even bother with the pretence that I think “The West is responsible for all the ills of the world”?

This is precisely what I’m talking about. I couldn’t have made my point any more clearly, and yet there you sit with furrowed brow, pondering furiously upon what I am really trying to say.

Seriously. These people’s fruitcake beliefs are utterly impervious to our opinion upon them, and they don’t change one whit just because we’ve invented a cottage industry of dingbat analysis to find out what they’re really pissed off about.

57. Shatterface

To put it another way, there’s a difference between the belief in a religion and the belief that the victims of your violence you bring it upon themselves.

The two ‘beliefs’ in the sentence ‘I believe in the teachings of Islam and I believe that Western imperialism justifies murder’ are not the same damn thing.

We can accept the former without accepting the latter.

58. Shatterface

Seriously. These people’s fruitcake beliefs are utterly impervious to our opinion upon them, and they don’t change one whit just because we’ve invented a cottage industry of dingbat analysis to find out what they’re really pissed off about.

I’m tempted to ask if you afe being deliberately dense but I doubt that’s the case.

You state: But when folk insist on continuing to kill themselves and other people and then justifying it by calling it revenge for this or that disastrous foreign policy catastrofuck, they probably mean that they’re angry enough about our foreign policy to kill and die over it. without questioning whether that is a post-hoc justification or whether it is their actual motivation.

If someone states they want to kill ‘slags on the dance floor’ because of the Crusades I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask whether misogyny is a more likely motovation, given their faith’s general attitude to women, and when they hack off someone’s head in the street I don’t think it’s unrasonable for us to ask whether racism is a more likely motivation than drone attacks on another continent given their faith’s attitude to ‘cattle’.

59. flyingrodent

If someone states they want to kill ‘slags on the dance floor’ because of the Crusades I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask whether misogyny is a more likely motovation, given their faith’s general attitude to women, and when they hack off someone’s head in the street I don’t think it’s unrasonable for us to ask whether racism is a more likely motivation than drone attacks on another continent given their faith’s attitude to ‘cattle’.

Yes, yes, yes, all true, and pretty much none of it any particular reason to respond to their own explanation of their vile deeds by searching for a deeper meaning that is, in an amazing coincidence, far more politically convenient for us.

I mean, if invading and occupying Afghanistan and Iraq was a good and moral act, it would remain a good and moral act regardless of what a bunch of revanchist medieval throwbacks think of it.

NONETHELESS! When some serial killer says he killed women because his soapdish told him to, you don’t get a bajillion halfwits angrily demanding that everyone ignore his explanation because to do otherwise would be overt apologism for serial killers.

And this is where we are – a bunch of pointy-headed, no dick columnists angrily ordering us to ignore what people say are their reasons for doing the mental things they do, and to instead focus on a more politically convenient explanation.

I do wonder sometimes how Osama Bin Laden reacted to all of this horseshit. He orchestrates some grand terroristic horror, explains why he did it in graphic and categorical terms, and then sits in his wee room in Dogdickalore, Pakistan watching us westerners come up with more interesting theories about why he did it.

It’s amazing, really – some ideological religious headbanger blows up half of downtown Manhattan, and practically nobody gives a fuck about his reasons for doing so, because we’re all too busy coming up with our own theories.

If nothing else, the fact that he must have spent the last years of his life being very aware of his own total irrelevance to the west’s wacky understanding of his actions is an entertaining and just outcome.

What’s remarkable in the case is that someone actually asked one of them, right after the act, as he was covered in the victim’s blood and with knives in hand, “Why did you do this thing?” To which he replied in a manner that was both coherent and unambiguous. And the whole thing was practically broadcast live on television. You might think that this couldn’t actually get any more obvious and straightforward, but apparently not.

What’s remarkable in the case is that someone actually asked one of them, right after the act, as he was covered in the victim’s blood and with knives in hand, “Why did you do this thing?”
——

Uh no its the first thing you ask some one displaying bizzare behaviour once the issue of your saftey is settled in your mind, what would you have asked him about, tommorrows weather, you fucking cock.

“And this is where we are – a bunch of pointy-headed, no dick columnists angrily ordering us to ignore what people say are their reasons for doing the mental things they do, and to instead focus on a more politically convenient explanation.”

What have you against intellectual female journalists, Mr Rodent?

Actually, Jonathan Freedland in today’s Graun explains why it’s not only foolish to take these loons’ ‘explanations’ at face value, but also morally repugnant and politically dangerous (ie why not do the same when the far-right commit an act of terrorism?). If you don’t understand what I mean, have a look at Lindsay German’s despicable statement on the ‘Stop The War’ website.

60 ~ Actually no I take that back and apologize I read you wrong ~ conspiracy theorists doing my head in on this one

Actually, Jonathan Freedland in today’s Graun explains why it’s not only foolish to take these loons’ ‘explanations’ at face value, but also morally repugnant and politically dangerous (ie why not do the same when the far-right commit an act of terrorism?).

Not really, if you’re able to justify why doing what they’re opposed to is both right, moral and/or necessary, then there’s no reason to not take them at their word – they’re just a group that will have to be dealt with and endured as and when required.

If however you cannot justify doing the things that they’re motivated to violence over, then it probably is worthwhile to start deciding that they’re motivated by something else entirely.

65. flyingrodent

(ie why not do the same when the far-right commit an act of terrorism?).

As previously noted, Anders Breivik said he was motivated by a loopy far-right belief that the Marxists and Jihadists who rule the universe intended to genocide white Europeans, or at very least reduce them to slavery.

We know he was motivated by this, because he published a lunatic screed explaining that this was his motivation.

I don’t actually believe that the universe is ruled by Marxist Jihadists – I think the idea is insane and ludicrous. Nonetheless, I believe that Breivik thinks it is. Because he told us he does at great length and in minute detail, see?

Now, in what way is acknowledging this absolute, undeniable fact “morally dangerous and politically repugnant”?

Cyclux: so if I go out and commit murder in the name of something you happen to agree with, that makes it Ok to approve of my self-righteous ranting and/or my actions?

Mr Rodent: have you actually read what Freedland has written? Both he and Clive (at Shiraz Socialist) have, from somewhat different angles, demolished your case (essentially the “blowback” non-explanation for Islamist violence):

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/may/24/woolwich-killers-strike-listen

67. flyingrodent

have you actually read what Freedland has written?

Yes Jim, I have, although I struggle to believe that you have actually read what I’ve written. Check this –

I am not saying that crazy Jihadists are right to kill people in the UK because of our dipshit, superviolent foreign policy. Only an idiot would believe that I am.

I am not saying that crazy Jihadists are compelled beyond their will to murder as a direct consequence of our dipshit, superviolent foreign policy. Only a moron could extract this from my post.

I am not saying that crazy Jihadists’ lunatic ramblings are morally justifiable, or that they’re forgiveable in context. In fact, I’ve repeatedly said the opposite, in graphic terms.

What I am saying is that, when a man brutally slaughters another in the street then tells the world on camera that he did it because of our dipshit, superviolent foreign policy, after god knows how many people have killed and then said they did it because of our foreign policy…

…That only the most determined muppet would then sit down and ask themselves, Why did this man commit this crime? without considering the possibility that maybe he was pissed off about our dipshit, superviolent foreign policy.

He fucking told you why he did it. You don’t have to think his point is logical or justifiable. You only have to acknowledge this.

What you and everyone else pimping your line are doing instead is throwing your hands in the air, gnashing your teeth and rending your garments, invoking the judgement of heaven and telling people that they are justifying and supporting terrorism simply by believing the evidence of their own eyes and ears.

I realise you think you’re landing blow after blow on folk by doing this but really, all you’re saying is that you’re willing to outright deny reality if it suits your politics. You might as well tell people that the sky is brown or that Tommy Cooper is the Prime Minister of Great Britain, because it’s only people who share your wacky politics that are going to be sold on this nonsense.

so if I go out and commit murder in the name of something you happen to agree with, that makes it Ok to approve of my self-righteous ranting and/or my actions?

You read what I wrote and that was your take away message?

Now, in what way is acknowledging this absolute, undeniable fact “morally dangerous and politically repugnant”?
——

That is how the left work though, if you speak up on the economic/resource and cultural clash concerns of immigration you are morally repugnant and politically dangerous, if you speak up on the institution of marrage in relation to gay marrage you are morally repugnant and politically dangerous, and if you say look, the idiot terroisist are doing it for this reason you are again morally repugnant and politically dangerous.

You may be for immergration/gay marrage and the current foriegn policy yet you are just open minded enough to examine everything concerning their cases, even the uncomfortable aspects of it. The left just shoot you down because the left is about what they FEEL not what works in the real world.

70. Charlieman

@67. flyingrodent: “He fucking told you why he did it. You don’t have to think his point is logical or justifiable. You only have to acknowledge this.”

Psychologists invest lots of time analysing what people think. They achieve it by indirect experiments; they know that when they directly ask people what they think, the answers are gibberish. Blokes proclaim to buy expensive sports cars because they believe in the design aesthetic, rather than a desire to pull women who might fall for a rich, flash git.

When a self proclaimed terrorist makes a statement about his/her beliefs, is it a complete explanation of motivation?

Instead, how about: I am a disconsolate person looking for something to blame for my unhappiness, and that war in Iraq was incidental but I will blame it, because manipulative people who boost my self respect tell me that it is important, in fact we’ve talked about wars and Islam for years (which has distracted me from my unhappiness) so I am going to do something so dumb to make me unhappy for the rest of my life, and after I’ve done the deed, I will deliver a few words.

Instead, how about: I am a disconsolate person looking for something to blame for my unhappiness, and that war in Iraq was incidental but I will blame it, because manipulative people who boost my self respect tell me that it is important, in fact we’ve talked about wars and Islam for years (which has distracted me from my unhappiness) so I am going to do something so dumb to make me unhappy for the rest of my life, and after I’ve done the deed, I will deliver a few words.
—–

But you cant change that, you cant rewind time and change the history of foreign policy either, you Can recognize their are those who are against the countrys foreign policy and are willing to cause harm and you Can use this market to track/deal with them.

Marker*

73. Charlieman

@71. Onbe: “But you cant change that, you cant rewind time and change the history of foreign policy either, you Can recognize their are those who are against the countrys foreign policy and are willing to cause harm and you Can use this market to track/deal with them.”

Given enough resources, government could track thought criminals. East Germany had a go at it. When government tracks thought crime perpetrators, it has a lot of targets, today comprising people who might pull the pin on a hand grenade and Freda expleting on her FaceBook account about grounded aircraft.

Speech interpretation algorithms don’t work. Human beings find it difficult to determine intent between blowing off steam and blowing off a bomb. Algorithms have no chance.

People are better than computers at identifying dodgy behaviour because the human brain is tuned to spot it. The human brain is also tuned to find food, potential sexual partners and that bastard who hates me because I dated his ex partner three months ago.

Food, sex and humour: computers can’t calculate any one.

74. flyingrodent

Charlieman: I think all of those points are valid, and can’t disagree.

Nonetheless, I’m sure you’d agree that this is an absurd situation, where a man commits a horrific crime and immediately explains why he did it, only to have a bunch of folk reject his justification and demand that everyone accept the theories that they’ve constructed instead.

Rodent: “He fucking told you why he did it. You don’t have to think his point is logical or justifiable. You only have to acknowledge this.”

What?

That he said it?

Plainly he did.

Do I think it’s a satisfactory explanation for his actions?

No.

Rodent: I’ve asked you this before and never had a clear answer, but I’ll try once more: is it only Islamist criminals whose explanations for their actions have to be taken at face value and simply believed…or do you apply that principle to *all* criminals?

76. Charlieman

@74. flyingrodent: “Charlieman: I think all of those points are valid, and can’t disagree.”

That means that my arguments may be seriously fucked up.

77. flyingrodent

I’ve asked you this before and never had a clear answer, but I’ll try once more: is it only Islamist criminals whose explanations for their actions have to be taken at face value and simply believed…or do you apply that principle to *all* criminals?

By and large, yes. Lots of them change their tune once they’re in court but speaking as a man who has read hundreds of police reports, most criminals tend to be very, very honest about why they committed their crimes when they’re caught. In fact, I’d say that the more violent those crimes are, the more likely they are to be very honest about them.

Amazingly, they then tend to change their stories when they have to justify them to a jury. I usually think the story they tell PC Plod when he catches them covered in blood and wielding a knife is more reliable, however.

Given enough resources, government could track thought criminals. East Germany had a go at it. When government tracks thought crime perpetrators, it has a lot of targets, today comprising people who might pull the pin on a hand grenade and Freda expleting on her FaceBook account about grounded aircraft.

Speech interpretation algorithms don’t work. Human beings find it difficult to determine intent between blowing off steam and blowing off a bomb. Algorithms have no chance.
—–

http://metrouk2.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/ay110643507adebolajo-michae1.jpg?w=549&h=549&crop=1

http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02571/Adebolajo_2571822b.jpg

http://media.heavy.com/media/2013/05/Michael-Adebolajo.jpg

Yea, those algorithms of which like fuck was I suggesting would have totally missed this guy. A guy protests and states his views in public on a consistent basis, has a fight with police over his right to cut the heads from those who offend islam then goes on to do this and your only response to something could have been done sooner is given the resouces the goverment could track thoughts..

Of course there is a hell of a lot of “targets” or lets call them individuals of interest, instead of invading the publics privacys even more why not just deal with the person stood in the middle of the street protesting their right to behead before they do it

79. Charlieman

@77. flyingrodent: “Amazingly, they then tend to change their stories when they have to justify them to a jury. I usually think the story they tell PC Plod when he catches them covered in blood and wielding a knife is more reliable, however.”

Tell us a bit more about yourself, rodent, please. You live in Scotland and there aren’t many Muslim wackos passing though the legal system there. In England, Muslim wackos are a minority that is insufficient for statistical analysis. Muslim wackos who pass through the English legal system provide a sample for an educated guess. Just a guess.

Rodent: “He fucking told you why he did it. You don’t have to think his point is logical or justifiable. You only have to acknowledge this.”

What?

That he said it?

Plainly he did.

Do I think it’s a satisfactory explanation for his actions?

No.

What you’re being encouraged to acknowledge is that when he said it, he was most likely being sincere.

81. flyingrodent

Tell us a bit more about yourself, rodent, please.

I’m not claiming any specific expertise about Jihadist basketcases. I was asked about criminals generally, so I gave my opinion on criminals generally.

82. Charlieman

@75. Jim Denham: “Rodent: I’ve asked you this before and never had a clear answer, but I’ll try once more: is it only Islamist criminals whose explanations for their actions have to be taken at face value and simply believed…”

The moral case, “I acted in the public interest”, was used in not so recent trials involving Sarah Tisdall and Clive Ponting. Those two cases, which occurred long before the days of Twitter and WikiLeaks, changed how UK public administration functions.

But few people consider that Islamic extremists can claim moral justification based on bluster. Courts and people ask questions about actions and professed beliefs; then they make up their own minds.

Rodent: ” most criminals tend to be very, very honest about why they committed their crimes when they’re caught. In fact, I’d say that the more violent those crimes are, the more likely they are to be very honest about them.”

The state is wasting a lot of money on things like investigations and trials, then isn’t it?

A further point: if Rodent is so keen to take the killers’ own explanation for their actions at face value, he should at least quote what Michael Adebolajo actually says in the infamous video. It’s rather more than a dislike of this or that aspect of UK foreign policy:

[Transcription from video]:

The only reason we have killed this man today is because Muslims are dying daily by British soldiers. And this British soldier is one. It is an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. By Allah, we swear by the almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you until you leave us alone. So what if we want to live by the Shari’a in Muslim lands? Why does that mean you must follow us and chase us and call us extremists and kill us? Rather you lot are extreme. You are the ones that when you drop a bomb you think it hits one person? Or rather your bomb wipes out a whole family? This is the reality. By Allah if I saw your mother today with a buggy I would help her up the stairs. This is my nature. But we are forced by the Qur’an, in Sura At-Tawba [that is, chapter 9 of the Qur’an, which contains the notorious “Verse of the Sword” enjoining Muslims to “slay the infidel wherever you find them” and to “make war on the infidel who dwell amongst you”], through many ayah in the Qu’ran, we must fight them as they fight us. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. I apologise that women had to witness this today but in our lands women have to see the same. You people will never be safe. Remove your governments, they don’t care about you. You think David Cameron is going to get caught in the street when we start busting our guns? You think politicians are going to die? No, it’s going to be the average guy, like you and your children. So get rid of them. Tell them to bring our troops back so can all live in peace. So leave our lands and we can all live in peace. That’s all I have to say. [in Arabic:] Allah’s peace and blessings be upon you.

The state is wasting a lot of money on things like investigations and trials, then isn’t it?

Well if you’ve seen this video, the former police officer speaking from about 25 minutes or so should open your eyes a bit. I suspect an awful lot of prosecutions that we don’t hear about in the papers are processed quickly due to criminal’s owning up.

86. Igor Stepanovs

So he’d help mothers with buggies up the stairs, thinks Cameron to blame, but it will be ordinary people that pay the price.
If Jim Denham tells me any more about this chap, I might start thinking he’s not such a crazed psycho after all. Michael Adebolajo that is, not Mr.Denham.

I was under the impression that the primary purpose of trials was to assuage the guilt or innocence of the accused, and not the truth-value of his putative explanation for a crime he may or may not have committed. Is my impression wrong?

is it only Islamist criminals whose explanations for their actions have to be taken at face value and simply believed…or do you apply that principle to *all* criminals?

What are you asking people to sign onto here with the phrase “taken at face value”?

If a terrorist says that he is committing an atrocity in revenge for British foreign policy, I don’t see any reason to suppose that he is lying.

At the same time, that doesn’t mean that British foreign policy constitutes a total explanation for his actions. One might want to note, for example, that he is intemperate or imprudent (assuming that he thinks his actions are good) or that he is wicked or evil (assuming that he knows that they are not). One might want to go further: perhaps he is crazy; perhaps this is all about his mother. Clearly, there is a lot that more could be said.

Still less does British foreign policy constitute a moral justification for his actions. All right-thinking people can see that it does not. Nor do his actions confer a particular moral status on British foreign itself. If our actions are “right” (in the moral sense), then they are right regardless of the actions of individual terrorists.

So what of his explanation? It stands to reason that if you are going to “go to war” with jihadism, then jihadists are going to fight back. N’est-ce pas? So that, in your calculus, as you tot up pluses and minuses for this course of action, this is going to feature.

Now, I personally don’t think that there is anything that the west as currently constituted can usefully do in Afghanistan. Ultimately, the Taliban are going to win. The only question, to my mind, is how much blood and treasure we are going to poor into the sands of Central Asia before we recognise that fact.

The actions of the two murderous and vicious jihadists therefore represent a cost to a course of action with no appreciable benefits.

Is my impression wrong?

Yes, your impression is wrong: how did the word “assuage” get in there? Next!

Vimothy

You may be interested in this link to the three episodes of the BBC documentary: The Power of Nightmares by Adam Curtis – both videos and transcripts are available. Episode 3 is the most illuminating on Zawahiri – who became head of al-Qaeda after the death of Bin Laden in 2011. In some respects, the transcript of eposode 3 is better than the video as the sound recording of Zawahiri speaking is not altogether clear.
http://www.wanttoknow.info/powerofnightmares#view

We seem to have forgotten about a whole series of convictions of Islamic terrorists prior to the recent Woolwich atrocity:

An Algerian man with suspected al-Qaeda links has been found guilty of downloading information on how to blow up a passenger jet. [BBC website November 2005]

Five men have been jailed for a bomb plot linked to al-Qaeda that could have killed hundreds of people in Britain. [BBC website April 2007]

Three guilty of airline bomb plot bigger than 9/11 [Telegraph September 2009]

Britain’s largest and longest running terrorist investigation has come to an end with the conviction of three British Muslims for planning to become suicide bombers in an al-Qaeda plot to blow up trans-Atlantic airliners. [Telegraph July 2010]

A gang of Muslim extremists inspired to launch a deadly UK terror campaign by hate preacher Anjem Choudary were jailed for a total of nearly 95 years today. [Telegraph February 2012]

Three would-be suicide bombers who plotted to carry out an attack to rival the 7 July and 9/11 atrocities have been found guilty of terrorism charges. [BBC website February 2013]

91. So Much For Subtlety

87. vimothy

The actions of the two murderous and vicious jihadists therefore represent a cost to a course of action with no appreciable benefits.

No. Because their actions have nothing to do with British foreign policy. They may think there is but there isn’t. Any more than a girl wearing a miniskirt causes rape. The actions of these two men is the direct result of our self loathing (that produces schools and media that say that we are vile people who deserve this kind of thing) and their hatred of us. Which goes back centuries.

If it is a product of anything, it is a product of poorly thought out immigration policies. Which also have few appreciable benefits given the welfare costs. But we will continue to have such attacks as long as we continue to have people with a tribal mindset in our midst who hate us.

I suppose if “blowback” proponents like Rodent, Seumas Milne and Lindsey German mean that *anything* done by non-Islamic governments (up to and including existing)potentially constitutes the “root cause” of Islamist terrorism then it’s difficult to disagree…

eg:

‘As family members struggled for explanations for Mr Adebolajo’s actions, they speculated that pressure from the security services to turn informer may have pushed him to act’ (IoS 16 May)

‘Mr Zuybyr claimed his brother-in-law [ie Adebolajo] had been tortured violently, threatened with rape and his private parts had been grabbed'[while visiting Kenya in 2010].

In other words, the ‘blowback’ argument either relates to specific foreign policy actions by the West (and/or its allies elsewhere in the world) in which case it simply doesn’t stand up … or it’s so vague, general and all-encompassing as to be a banal, useless non-explanation.

What I note, however, is that proponents of ‘blowback’ almost invariably sympathise with the supposed motivations of the perpetrators.

93. the a&e charge nurse

We can’t just blame foreign policy for blowback (the implication behind the OP).
Jihadist won’t even shake hands with their own brothers until they buy into the same delusion
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hr0MD1jQ58g

It seems ALL non-believers are enemies once you take your religion seriously enough, so violent action does not just depend on foreign policy but whether or not people, especially women are willing to submit.

Richard Dart (the subject of the film) was jailed for 6 years after being convicted of plotting terrorist offences against soldiers at Wootton Bassett – he was the son of teachers and came from a middle class home in Weymouth.

What is this ‘blowback’ anyway, is it at all related to the common sense notion that if you declare war on a nation or ideology, then those of that nation or ideology are going to fight back?

Cylux asks: “What is this ‘blowback’ anyway, is it at all related to the common sense notion that if you declare war on a nation or ideology, then those of that nation or ideology are going to fight back?”

Yes it is, Cylux. And it tells you absolutely nothing more than that.

It offers no explanation for Islamist violence in general or in particular.

For instance, no sane person denies that racism and imperialist wars must have played a part in the Woolwich murder. But since the vast, overwhelmingly larger number of people who have been victims of racism or outraged by imperialist wars, have not resorted to acts of individual terrorism, it is surely an ‘explanation’ only in the most minimal sense – and therefore not really an explanation at all.

If you want a real explanation, you need to look at the ideology and MO of the organisations that recruit and brainwash these young men. You also have to look, sadly, at the prevailing culture within (some) Muslim groups and (some) Mosques, the ‘narrative’ young people are being told, which might allow al-Qaeda-type groups to prey on them

Jim Denham, you are equivocating between
a) the sensible position that simply saying “blowback” is not a complete explanation of Islamic terrorism – which is fine on it’s own terms, but is attacking a straw man, since FR and other commenters have repeatedly acknowledged this obvious point, and
b) the ludicrous position that we can therefore ignore or discard the terrorists’ clearly stated accounts of their own motivations, in place of anything else you fancy, so long as it doesn’t involve British foreign policy.

Larry: I go further than arguing that ” “blowback” is not a complete explanation of Islamic terrorism – which is fine on it’s own terms…”

I say that they way sections of the so-called “left” use “blowback” is positively dangerous:

1/ It ignores/denies the need to examine the ideology/modus operandi of Islamist organisations

2/ The inescapable logic is to ask us to have sympathy with the perpetrators and/or their supposed cause and to shift the blame to the government. The likes of Milne, Galloway, German (not sure about Rodent)criticise the *methods* of fighting Islamist terror adopted by Western governments, but as though there was simply no need to fight at all.

I wonder if Liberal Conspiracy will qualify for “pre-emptive censorship of internet sites”, under Theresa May’s latest proposals for dealing with “radicalisation”?
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/may/27/theresa-may-woolwich-radicalisation

99. the a&e charge nurse

[96] “I shall be with you. Give courage to the believers. I shall cast terror into the hearts of the infidels. Strike off their heads, strike off the very tips of their fingers.” – see, the blueprint predates Blair.

Islam is the only major world religion today legitimizing beheadings.

Saudi Arabia abolished slavery in 1962 but try: Maids in the Middle East – Little better than slavery
http://www.economist.com/node/16953469

Jim Denham, when you say “The inescapable logic” you mean “The smear campaign I am waging”.

It is not possible for an honest intelligent person to read this OP and conclude that the author is inviting us to “have sympathy with the perpetrators and/or their supposed cause”. And even if it was, he has repeatedly (unnecessarily) corrected that interpretation in the comments.

And never mind Galloway or “sections of the so-called left”. Respond to the article you’re commenting under (unless you wish to make yourself answerable for Melanie Phillips’ latest).

Larry: “Jim Denham, when you say “The inescapable logic” you mean “The smear campaign I am waging”.”

OK Larry, try this test:

If every time the violence of, say the EDL or BNP, is under discussion, someone says “but you can’t discuss it without addressing the fundamental, underlying root-cause issues of immigration and multi-culturalism”…what would you think of that person and their motives?

If every time the violence of, say the EDL or BNP, is under discussion, someone says “but you can’t discuss it without addressing the fundamental, underlying root-cause issues of immigration and multi-culturalism”…what would you think of that person and their motives?

Well they’d be right, you can’t discuss the BNP or EDL’s violence without broaching on the fact they have a problem with immigration and multiculturalism. Whether or not that means you should capitulate to their whims on the other hand, is another question entirely.

Jim, no thought experiment needed. If you scroll up, you’ll find a discussion of Anders Breivik, in which I (& FR) argue that yes, multiculturalism did indeed function as a major motivation for his attacks. The inescapable logic of which must presumably be that I “have sympathy with the perpetrators and/or their supposed cause”.

Cylux and Larry: I think you are both avoiding the question and being deliberately obtuse. Let me put more clearly, just in case your shared obtuseness is genuine ignorance:

How about someone who says “we can’t condemn the BNP/EDL or organise against them, until we’ve understood what they’re trying to tell us about immigration and/or multiculturalism”?

Oh I see. Just like Flying Rodent said “we can’t condemn Islamic terrorists or organise against them…”, you mean?

The problem being that he explicitly says the precise opposite.

How about someone who says “we can’t condemn the BNP/EDL or organise against them, until we’ve understood what they’re trying to tell us about immigration and/or multiculturalism”?

Maybe if you stop imagining FR is Galloway or Lindsey Germain or whoever else you’re pretending he is, you might be able to focus on building a better argument. As it is you’re making a fool of yourself.

How about someone who says “we can’t condemn the BNP/EDL or organise against them, until we’ve understood what they’re trying to tell us about immigration and/or multiculturalism”?

Who says that?

109. flyingrodent

I suppose if “blowback” proponents like Rodent, Seumas Milne and Lindsey German mean that *anything* done by non-Islamic governments (up to and including existing)potentially constitutes the “root cause” of Islamist terrorism then it’s difficult to disagree…

Jim, you keep asking half-relevant questions and getting entirely reasonable answers… And then completely ignoring those answers in favour of responding to arguments that nobody here has made.

AFAICS nobody on this thread is arguing that UK foreign policy compels Jihadist nutters to violence beyond their will, or that all the woes of the world are our fault, or any of the other trite phrases that you keep trotting out with no provocation whatsoever.

You seem to think that you’re handing out terrible punishment here, but what you’re actually doing is the internet equivalent of wrestling with a rubber man in front of a roomful of mystified onlookers.

Fun as it is to watch you heave and grunt, your assertions and “thought experiments” are totally irrelevant to the points that have been made. If you have a problem with a bunch of minor league Trotskyites whose opinions are not represented on this thread, can I suggest that you go take your argument up with them instead?

110. Charlieman

92. Jim Denham: “In other words, the ‘blowback’ argument either relates to specific foreign policy actions by the West (and/or its allies elsewhere in the world) in which case it simply doesn’t stand up … or it’s so vague, general and all-encompassing as to be a banal, useless non-explanation.”

Western intervention in Muslim countries is a media friendly excuse for violent acts which doesn’t take a lot of explanation. A wacko can demand removal of western soldiers and allies from Afghanistan/wherever in a TV twenty second time window. A wacko does not have time to explain why s/he is a disconsolate fuckup who has latched onto a fundamentalist campaign.

Troop withdrawal is a transitional demand. Give in, and there’ll be another implausible demand. That’s why western governments “tactically withdraw” rather than walk out.

Blowback is a possible explanation for why some people look to extremist groups for answers. The transitional demand, removal of western soldiers, is always present; but those who get sucked in end up listening to the next set of demands. Martyrs and Jihadis never forget the transitional demand, and they buy into the next sets of motivational lessons.

It is possible to believe in the transitional demand without becoming a fundamentalist. Even if believers can fend off religious extremists, they have to dodge trots and tankies who think that they can beat capitalism by alliance with fruitcakes. It is possible and not particularly strange.

ps I think it was snide to list Rodent alongside Seumas Milne and Lindsey German.

111. flyingrodent

ps I think it was snide to list Rodent alongside Seumas Milne and Lindsey German.

Trust me, that’s relatively tame.

Rodent says: “Jim, you keep asking half-relevant questions and getting entirely reasonable answers… And then completely ignoring those answers in favour of responding to arguments that nobody here has made.

“AFAICS nobody on this thread is arguing that UK foreign policy compels Jihadist nutters to violence beyond their will, or that all the woes of the world are our fault, or any of the other trite phrases that you keep trotting out with no provocation whatsoever.

But Rodent, that *is* the only rational basis for what you and other “blowback” proponents argue…

…as I’ve previously stated, if all you’re arguning is that some Isamists are angry about this or that aspect of Western foreign policy, then that’s just a banal and useless statement of the bleedin’ obvious.

The real “blowback” argument is very widely subscribed to (including by liberals, ‘Guardian’ columnists and – in its most poisonous form – by the likes of the SWP and The Stop The War Coalition. See also Terry Eagleton in today’s Graun.

It is a useless and unhelpful non-“explanation” for Islamist terrorism, and also, invariably implies sympathy with the (supposed) motives (though not the methods)of the Islamists. The SWP after 9/11, and Reese and German since, are the crudest, most blatant examples, but Seumas Milne runs them close.

I’ve already asked Cylux and Larry what they’d think about someone who says “we can’t condemn the BNP/EDL or organise against them, until we’ve understood what they’re trying to tell us about immigration and/or multiculturalism”?

I haven’t had an honest answer from either

I’d ask a further question to anyone who genuinely subscribes to the “blowback” argument:

Do you seriously think that Western withdrawal from Iraq (oh! that’s already happened, hasn’t it?), and Afghanistan (about to happen)will stop Islamist terrorism?

Do you honestly believe that a dismantling of Israel’s illegal settlements and the establishment of a two-state solution, will satisfy the Islamists?

But Rodent, that *is* the only rational basis for what you and other “blowback” proponents argue…

Except that the term “blowback” was introduced into this conversation by you, Jim, not by the Rodent or anyone else.

And since we have established at enormous and tedious length that no-one here actually subscribes to what you insist “blowback” proponents MUST believe, it seems that the whole thing is one gigantic red herring.

114. Charlieman

@113. Larry: “Except that the term “blowback” was introduced into this conversation by you, Jim, not by the Rodent or anyone else.”

@112. Jim Denham: The real “blowback” argument is very widely subscribed to (including by liberals, ‘Guardian’ columnists and – in its most poisonous form – by the likes of the SWP and The Stop The War Coalition. See also Terry Eagleton in today’s Graun.

Much humour must follow.

Larry: “And since we have established at enormous and tedious length that no-one here actually subscribes to what you insist “blowback” proponents MUST believe, it seems that the whole thing is one gigantic red herring”:

Larry, you are quite simply wrong.

EITHER the “blowback” argument of Rodent (which he’s never denied holding to and, indeed, has defended when commenting at ‘Shiraz Socialist’) means something specific with regard to the relationship between Western foreign policy and Islamist terrorism…

…OR it doesn’t.

Rodent and others here, who seem to support some version of ‘blowback’ have noticeably failed to prove whatever case it is they’ve been trying to establish.

I’m rather proud (I must admit) of my minor role in exposing them for the charlatans they are.

I’m rather proud (I must admit) of my minor role in exposing them for the charlatans they are.

Well jolly well done you. But you’ll excuse the rest of us for observing that while the Rodent may not have denied subscribing to the “blowback” argument, it doesn’t – at least as summarised by you – appear to correspond to anything he or anyone else has actually said here. Still, if you fancy firing out a few more rhetorical questions a propos of nothing on particular, get no answers in return, and then declare yourself another magnificent victory, please carry on.

117. flyingrodent

you’ll excuse the rest of us for observing that while the Rodent may not have denied subscribing to the “blowback” argument, it doesn’t – at least as summarised by you – appear to correspond to anything he or anyone else has actually said here.

With a heavy heart, knowing full well the futility of the attempt, I have to explain that what Jim is referring to is the fact that I’ve previously said that –

– Since Al Qaeda repeatedly said they attacked New York because they were pissed off about the presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia, amongst a very long and rambling list of other and wackier grievances, it’s probably reasonable to believe that Al Qaeda probably were pissed off about the presence of US troops in Saudi, amongst a very long and rambling list of other and wackier grievances.

As evidence, I offered the fact that AQ said they were pissed off about the presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia, not once or twice, but repeatedly and in incredibly boring detail.

You’ll be just staggered to learn that Jim announced that this meant that I 100% accept Al Qaeda’s propaganda as entirely true; that I think that no other reasons for AQ’s ultraviolent fucknuttery can possibly exist, and that I must then think crashing planes into buildings is just great.

The ironic thing is that Jim thinks this disproves my point about how a minority of cranks think that inconvenient facts should be utterly deleted from the historical record to be replaced by more politically convenient theories, when in fact it reinforces it.

Whatever, yo. Jim’s entire argument amounts to a bloke claiming that a lemon meringue pie can’t possibly have any eggs in it, because it isn’t a plate of scrambled egg.

It surely ranks as one of the most hilarious performances I’ve seen on this site, which is saying something, especially when topped off with the QUAIL MORTALS FOR I HAVE PROVEN YOUR HIDDEN TERROR LOVE VIA THE AMAZING POWER OF MY HORSESHIT POLITICS coda.

118. Timon for Tea

“He fucking told you why he did it. ”

Yes, but the reason you refer to Rodent, the so-called ‘dipshit hyper violent foreign policy’is a view you share with him. You think that in this particular he is entirely right, the foreign policy is as reprehensible as he claims. So we have to ask, why haven’t you too chopped the heads off any off-duty Army musicians? Or maybe there is some other essential motivational condition here that he forgot to explain to the camera?

Or maybe there is some other essential motivational condition here that he forgot to explain to the camera?

You know it’s possible for two different people to be against the same thing for different reasons.

My guess is the killers oppose the WoT because they see it as part of a 1000-year-old crusade by Not Muslims against Muslims and it’s their duty to resist that. Rodent can speak for himself, but if that makes his personal top 10 reasons for being against the WoT I’d be surprised.

I can’t help but wonder what proponents of ‘inescapable logic’ think of the southern poverty law centre and American gay rights orgs after the FRC shooting.
I mean he pretty much got tooled up and shot and injured a security guard because they were an anti-gay rights hate group. And his political position overlaps with that of gay rights groups and the SPLC! So clearly despite all the orgs issuing condemnations of his actions on the same day, they clearly were actually supportive of his actions.
Inescapable logic QED.

Anyone (eg Cylux, but any other ‘blowback’ proponent will do) care to answer this rather fundamental question from Timon for Tea:

“He fucking told you why he did it. ”

Yes, but the reason you refer to Rodent, the so-called ‘dipshit hyper violent foreign policy’is a view you share with him. You think that in this particular he is entirely right, the foreign policy is as reprehensible as he claims. So we have to ask, why haven’t you too chopped the heads off any off-duty Army musicians? Or maybe there is some other essential motivational condition here that he forgot to explain to the camera?

PS it occurs to me that Rodent gets his political analysis (as well as his strange mid-Atlantic demotic) from Bill Hicks, the well-known foreign policy expert who used to say (after 9/11) “He [Osama bin Laden] fuckin’ *told you* why he did it.”

I gave as much credence to Hicks as a political analyst then as I do to Rodent & co now.

Cylux: there’s a fundamental difference between terrorist acts perpetrated by people whose aims are democratic and progressive (ie the example you cite) and acts carried out by those who’d impose a fascistic theocracy given the opportunity. The first lot are (as Trotsky put it) “misguided comrades” using mistaken tactics. The second lot are our sworn enemies who must be confronted and defeated. Do you not understand that?

I explained it a few years ago, to John Game of the SWP:
http://shirazsocialist.wordpress.com/2006/09/10/open-letter-to-an-swper-on-terrorism/

Anyone (eg Cylux, but any other ‘blowback’ proponent will do) care to answer this rather fundamental question from Timon for Tea:

I already did. One’s a jihadi nutcase, the other isn’t.

PS it occurs to me that Rodent gets his political analysis (as well as his strange mid-Atlantic demotic) from Bill Hicks, the well-known foreign policy expert who used to say (after 9/11) “He [Osama bin Laden] fuckin’ *told you* why he did it.”

I gave as much credence to Hicks as a political analyst then as I do to Rodent & co now.

Bill Hicks died of cancer in the early 90s. Seriously Jim, go and have a lie down – this is going very badly for you.

Hmm

there’s a fundamental difference between terrorist acts perpetrated by people whose aims are democratic and progressive (ie the example you cite) and acts carried out by those who’d impose a fascistic theocracy given the opportunity. The first lot are (as Trotsky put it) “misguided comrades” using mistaken tactics. The second lot are our sworn enemies who must be confronted and defeated. Do you not understand that?

I’m not sure how that compares with your earlier statement above:

so if I go out and commit murder in the name of something you happen to agree with, that makes it Ok to approve of my self-righteous ranting and/or my actions?

125. flyingrodent

the reason you refer to Rodent, the so-called ‘dipshit hyper violent foreign policy’is a view you share with him. You think that in this particular he is entirely right, the foreign policy is as reprehensible as he claims. So we have to ask, why haven’t you too chopped the heads off any off-duty Army musicians? Or maybe there is some other essential motivational condition here that he forgot to explain to the camera?

Jim, you’ve been told around about fifteen times now that nobody on this thread believes that crazy Jihadists are solely motivated by western foreign policy.

You’re still arguing against a point that nobody has made or defended.

You should really retire with what little dignity you have left, at this point.

My dignity is of little or no consequence, Mr Hicks-impersonator-Rodent.

But allowing error to go uncorrected is intellectual immorality.

Btw Rodent and Sy, I will admit to a mistake: seeing as Mr Hicks died in the early 1990’s I was clearly wrong to have attributed that quote about 9/11 to him. I’m pretty sure, therefore, that it was his follower Denis Leary. The “he fuckin’ told you” sticks in my mind (even if I got the provenance wrong) because Richard ‘Lenin’s Tomb’ Seymour quoted it approvingly shortly afterwards.
Never let it be said that I won’t admit a mistake.

128. flyingrodent

My dignity is of little or no consequence, Mr Hicks-impersonator-Rodent…

Followed by…

I will admit to a mistake: seeing as Mr Hicks died in the early 1990?s I was clearly wrong…

Some motherfuckers are always tryin’ to ice-skate uphill.

129. Jim Denham

OK Mr motherfucker Rodent: it clearly should have been Leary-impersonator.

Clearly my error on that is of vast political significance.


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