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Western Opinion and the Islamist Threat

Reader comment on item: Iraq and Kuwait Have a Recognized Border

Submitted by Ann Farmer (United Kingdom), Dec 27, 2006 at 16:23

Pacifism, self-hatred and complacency - according to Daniel Pipes, these are the attitudes influencing the West's failure to appreciate and respond to the Islamist threat. I would agree that this failurre is a serious threat, however I am not so sure his interpretation of the motives influencing it applies equally to the UK.

The prevailing orthodoxy here is not always pacifist; for example, the Second World War has been sanctified because it is seen as a war against fascism, while the Bosnian intervention was seen as OK because Muslims were subject to ethnic cleansing and it happened in Europe. On these criteria, Western intervention in Iraq fails the test of UK liberal opinion because (a) it is not in Europe, and (b) although the victims are all Muslim, it is not popular with Muslims in the UK (not to mention in Muslim countries) and liberal opinion is concerned about not offending what it perceives to be Muslim opinion.

Self-hatred? Sort of - a kind of middle-class guilt at profiting from a capitalist system anathematized by the left-wing political creed adopted at university (rather than acquired through personal experience - Tony Blair's experience is typical of many in that he pursued his left-wing political beliefs as a barrister and as a Member of Parliament). Rather than give up the fruits of capitalism, their guilt inspires them to hate those who unabashedly uphold capitalism.

This leads on to the third point - complacency. True - but the complacency is a result of the hatred of capitalism just mentioned. Whatever the Islamists do or threaten to do, cannot be so bad as the evils of capitalism and the crimes of capitalists. So for example, the numbers of people 'killed' by poverty are seen as far more significant than those killed by terrorism, as are the numbers killed on the roads (paradoxically such 'accidents' are seen as more deliberate than deliberate killing).

Terrorism is explained as the product of poverty and desperation, hence the dismissive attitude towards terrorists as amateurs and of course as underdogs. The fact that democracies are restrained in what they can and cannot do by the rules of war is ignored; the fact that terrorists deliberately target innocent people and operate from among civilians as did the Hizbollah in Lebanon does not fit in with the orthodox liberal view and thus is ignored, as with every other inconvenient detail that spoils the overall picture. In the UK, thanks to the BBC's overwhelming liberal bias, it does not seem to matter how many people are killed by terrorists (there will be plenty of handwringing, but that is as far as it goes) George Bush is still seen as the world's most dangerous man.

In case anyone should jump to conclusions, I consider myself liberal and left-wing but also, I hope, a realist. My personal view is that the orthodox liberal romance with terrorism will be swept away by the terrorists themselves; my fear is that the rest of us will be swept away too.


Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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Reader comments (3) on this item

Title Commenter Date Thread
Western Opinion and the Islamist Threat [503 words]Ann FarmerDec 27, 2006 16:2370789
It helps [68 words]David W. LincolnDec 26, 2006 14:0870620
A 200-kilometer (125-mile) metal barrier? [17 words]A. NonymousDec 25, 2006 18:4370519

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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