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March 13, 2005

The British Left's "war on terror"

Melanie Phillips posts an e-mail from a reader who identifies himself as of mixed Hindu/Sikh birth. The reader notes that, because of his skin color, British Muslims feel free to express their inner feelings to him. And it is not a pretty sight.

Because I am Asian, have brown skin, they sometimes assume I am Muslim, and even if they don't, they are freer to tell me their inner thoughts than they would to a white person. It is a level of hatred that is Nazi like in its extremity and virtually universal. I have met some brave Muslims who are sickened by it, but they are a minority and would never challenge the status-quo hatred that persists amongst them, for fear of ridicule, contempt, and perhaps even violence.
The reader cites an article in the Guardian by Timothy Garton Ash, which really has to be read to be believed, at least by those of us who are not regularly exposed to the European perspective. (An American who made the same arguments would be ridiculed all the way back to Hollywood.) Ash writes from Madrid at the anniversary of the railway bombings. Melanie Phillips's reader highlights this comment in Ash's article from a local Muslim 16-year-old:
I ask another Muhammad ("just call me Muhammad"), a voluble 16-year-old, about last year's bombings just down the road, at the Atocha station. Well, he says, he doesn't like to see people dying "even if they are Christians and Jews". But in this case, because of what Aznar did in the Iraq war.
The reader notes this line about "even if they are Christians and Jews" and continues:
"Even if they are Christians and Jews" tells you all you need to know about the mindset of many Muslims in Europe, as though Christians and Jews are lesser people, scum, like dogs or animals. The left in this country is unable and unwilling to face up to the fact that there is a deep poison in the ideology of many of its idealised and romanticised "oppressed" lumpen masses. It is unable to accept that no matter what they do, there will still be people utterly deranged by an ideology of hatred that no amount of wretched and pathetic self flaggelation will defuse.
Equally interesting to me is the bland, matter-of-fact way in which Ash paints his dream, in which Muslims attack and European people offer no response:
But this war to avoid a larger war will only be won if ordinary citizens across Europe are consciously engaged in it, through millions of commonplace interactions with people of different colour and faith. These are the experiences that determine whether the Muslim immigrants who already live among us in such large numbers will turn towards or away from Islamist extremism, and eventually terrorism. This is not the "war on terror", in which the mighty armies and security apparatuses of powerful states are repeatedly outmanoeuvred by a few technically ingenious people who are prepared to sacrifice their own lives. It's a war to prevent such people wanting to become terrorists in the first place.
The war, in other words, is a war of pre-emptive surrender.