Making a List

Many media outlets here in the West are careful about labelling terrorist organizations by their actual name. Instead they’re called “insurgents” or “resistance groups”. This can be very frustrating for those of us interested in seeing international terrorist groups eradicated. Not only do these groups play on the prejudices of their supporters, claiming divine inspiration, but it can also appear that news organizations are actually aiding and abetting.

This isn’t necessarily true. Terrorists can be pretty scary guys, particularly to reporters that not only are unarmed but also willfully seek out terrorists in order to get a compelling story. The danger is increased by an order of magnitude when dealing with religious fanatics who are convinced that God told them to slaughter everyone who isn’t a member of their religion. Simply put, newshounds have no defense except to seem to be sympathetic and hope that these scumbags don’t just kill them out of hand.

Still, in their efforts to keep from enraging the terrorists, news organizations have presented a very distorted view of the situation over the past 4 decades. This is particularly true when one considers the way they’ve pussyfooted around the fact that the majority of murderous terrorist organizations are Islamic. The arguement seems to be that it would be insensitive, bigoted and unfair to point out the religious motivation behind the majority of terrorists. Besides, there are hundreds of millions of Muslims who don’t run around trying to kill innocent people. It’s important to keep from painting with too wide a brush.

This is true, but it’s also important to know your enemy. If there’s just a small percentage of Muslims who engage in terrorists acts then it’s important to find out what makes them different from the mainstream. And if it turns out that some Islamic cultures produce the majority of terrorists then it’s important to know that as well. This isn’t going to happen unless people take a cold, hard, realistic look at terrorism, as well as the conditions that produce them.

A new post at Strategypage.com takes the first step. (No permalinks, so please scroll down to the post dated October 26, 2004.) Please note that this list is of major acts performed by Islamic terrorists. Thos actions which were taken by non-Islamic movements, such as Communist insurgents, aren’t listed. Still, I think that the number of violent acts and the number of victims are very telling. SP makes the point that the number of victims claimed by every other non-Muslim terrorist act combined doesn’t equal the dead people that the Islamic terrorists have piled up. These guys are the champs at killing innocents

SP also says that Islamic news organizations have just started (in the past 2 months) to examine the fact that the majority of terrorists in the world are Islamic. If this erodes the wide base of support that these murderers enjoy in the Muslim world then it will actually do some good. But, for some reason, I’m not holding my breath.

“Mobile” vs. “Immobile” Civilizations

That’s how Reuven Brenner, in this recent column, characterizes the struggle between the democratic West and Islamic fundamentalism. Brenner’s argument is interesting.

It is easy to criticize both grandiose thesis and narrow ones. To come up with a different way of perceiving the events and offer solutions is a bit harder. Yet this brief does just that. It shows that today’s conflict between Islamic groups and the West, as well as within Islamic societies, can be viewed as one between “mobile” and “immobile” civilizations, whose members can be found in every society. What distinguishes the US is that it has far more people sharing the outlook of a “mobile civilization” than any other country. And what characterizes many Islamic countries is that they have a large number of people sharing the values of an “immobile” civilization. “Relativist” orthodoxy notwithstanding, one point I make is that although one can understand the values and ideals of “immobile societies”, as fitting certain situations, there cannot be a compromise between these two civilizations. Today’s circumstances – demographic in particular – require moves toward “mobility”.

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