Posts from September 5, 2004

New lines in terrorism

New lines in terrorism

: Just as apparently al-Qaeda-backed terrorists in Russia crossed a new line in attacking innocent civilians, I wonder whether Vladimir Putin will cross new lines in hunting them down and attacking and exterminated the the swine. He’ll have many around the world rooting him on. We’ll still be fretting the niceties of a war on terrorism. He’ll be going batshit.

: And by chance, at this moment, I happen to turn to Death in Gaza on HBO, where masked terrorist slime of the Palestinian branch are showing off a young boy they’re training as a terrorist. Slime. Slime. Slime. To use children in your crimes is every bit as evil as victimizing them.

Outrage

Outrage

: Where is the outrage in the Muslim world over the atrocity in Russia?

I found some:

Many Arabs found themselves in an increasingly common quandary: struggling to reconcile their sympathy for a political cause with growing revulsion at the wrath levelled by self-described “holy warriors” against the innocent.

“What is the guilt of those children? Why should they be responsible for your conflict with the government?” Grand Sheik Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, Egypt’s highest-ranking imam, railed during Friday prayers in the Egyptian town of Benha. “You are taking Islam as a cover and it is a deceptive cover; those who carry out the kidnappings are criminals, not Muslims.”

Sheik Tantawi’s refrain was a familiar one among Muslims who have felt unfairly tarred by the growing number of highly publicised bloodbaths perpetrated by fellow believers.

But on Saturday some prominent Arabs had a more sobering interpretation: corrupt, repressed Arab and Islamic societies have turned into breeding grounds for terrorism. It is a judgement rarely voiced in heavily censored Arab rhetoric.

“Most perpetrators of suicide operations in buses, schools and residential buildings around the world for the past 10 years have been Muslims,” wrote Abdulrahman al-Rashed, general manager of the Al-Arabiya TV channel.

In a blunt column in the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat, he listed attacks carried out by Muslims in Iraq, Russia, Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. “Our terrorist sons are an end-product of our corrupted culture,” he wrote. “The picture is humiliating, painful and harsh for all of us.”

At last. At frigging last.

Is this the line they had to cross to evoke this revulsion? Will the rejection of these tactics last? Will they repudiate the scum of their earth?

: The BBC recaps editorial comment in Arab papers:

A lesson in terror at a children’s school – What happened at the ill-fated school is not only unjustifiable and unacceptable, it also provokes anger and revulsion among Muslim public opinion, since it tarnishes the name of all Muslims and distorts the image of our noble faith.

–Jordan’s Al-Dustur

An ugly crime against humanity – What happened at the Russian school is a reprehensible crime against the whole of humanity and the perpetrators should be called to account.

– Egypt’s Al-Ahram

These children and their teachers had committed no crime to justify their lives being endangered and their blood shed. If this terrorist group had chosen a Russian military barracks, their cause – if they had one at all – would have been more credible and many would have sympathised with them. What happened is the absolute opposite: the world reacted to the crisis with humanity, and the only loser is the side to which they [the hostage-takers] belong.

– Saudi Arabia’s Al-Watan

However, Iran’s papers, following the mullahs’ party line, criticized Russian officials just as much as they criticized these baby-killers.

Terrorism of the age

Terrorism of the age

: I’ve been thinking about protest and terrorism as they fit into our age and ages before.

I was reading Douglas Coupland‘s Souvenir of Canada, a neat book (the first of two) cataloguing the icons of his country and his age. Just as terrorism spread its dark slime to a school in Russia last week, I read Coupland’s memory of October, 1970, when he and his fellow elementary schoolchildren were called into the gym to watch the funeral of Quebec Minister of Labor Pierre Laporte, who had been murdered by the Front de Liberation du Quebec. Said Coupland:

The FLQ was very much of its era, the heydey of other terrorist groups within the industrialized nations of the west: Germany’s Baader-Meinhof, Italy’s Brigada Rosa, America’s Weather Underground, and the high profile and dangerously loopy Symbionese Liberation Army.

In the ’60s and ’70s, protest was internal, it was about fixing or taking back your own country, its policies and power structure.

And in the ’60s and ’70s, protest metastasized into terrorism. That’s not to say there was cause and effect or a direct connection — the political equivalent in that time of marijuana leading to heroin — but one fed on the other. Legimate causes — race, civil rights, Vietnam — were exploited by what became terrorist groups that robbed and bombed and murdered.

Protest has changed in this age. Much more often, it is external: Crowds in France, Germany, and England protesting our Iraq war; crowds in Seattle or Europe protesting globalization. Oh, of course, there’s plenty of internal protest. But protest, too, is now globalized.

And, of course, terrorism has changed in this age. It, too, is external. Outsiders come to terrorize and murder Americans, Spaniards, Russians, Israelis, Britons, Iraqis…. Those outsiders are most often Islamofascists exploiting mangled versions of religion more than causes. Terrorism, too, is now globalized.

Today, there is no connection or pretense of one between protest movements and terrorism, and thank goodness for that. Terrorism today has overstepped every imaginable boundary of civilization. Well, yes, that’s the very definition of terrorism, isn’t it? And I don’t mean to create any relative scale of terror: Murdering one person is evil just as murdering 3,000 is evil and the numbers don’t make one more evil than the next; innocent life is innocent life. Still, the terrorists today, the Islamofascists, seek out atrocity for its own sake: bombing workaday busses and flying jets into buildings and now capturing and murdering children by the hundreds.

All this — I hope — makes protest movements more careful about not finding themselves morphing and metastasizing into violence and then terrorism. The globalism twits who burned and pillaged started down that slope. I feared, quietly, that the protests in New York last week could have descended into violence since there were precedents (see: Seattle). But I saw absolutely no desire by any of the protesters to cross that line.

Last week, I posted a few times about what I think is the changing context of protest. On the one end, there are new ways to get your message heard, thanks to the Internet and, for better and worse, the new-media-savvy examples of MoveOn.org, F9/11, and the Swifties. On the other end, you have to be careful to stay on this side of the line of violence or else you could find yourself next to the terrorists and no civilized soul wants to get anywhere near that possibility. And so I don’t want to tie protest and terrorism together, either; I want them to stay far apart, for protest is necessary in a democracy and terrorists are the enemy of the age.

And that is the other change in this realm: We should all see that we have a common enemy in terrorists — and if we don’t see that, then we’re self-destructive fools.

The protestors and the powerful are — or should be — on the same side in this war and this age: We may all have different means but the end must be the same: Death to terrorism.

BOBs

BOBs

: Deutsche Welle, the German broadcaster, is holding a contest to name the best international blogs. As Loic points out, it’s odd that they don’t include French — and do include English as well as Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese and Arabic. Too bad not Persian or Polish or, hell, Icelandic. It’s only so international.

Filthy lucre, cont.

Filthy lucre, cont.

: Continuing action in the comments below and in Rushkoff’s post. See also Ken Layne’s reaction to what Rushkoff wrote.

: See also Ed Cone and Dave Winer. Fred Wilson, too.

The militant middle

The militant middle

: I’m watching Bill Maher’s show (I always end up seeing it a day late; I’ve heard that, like meatloaf, it’s better cold) and Andrew Sullivan is doing a great job representing the militant middle. That’s where I see myself these days. I’d been called (and called myself) a liberal hawk but that just sounds like peanut butter and ketchup. No, the militant middle is my neighborhood now.

Andrew and I disagree about lots but we meet in the middle. We’re both likely not voting for Bush but we’re not nuts about Kerry, either. We each saw the necessity of the war in Iraq and regret the quality of peace that has followed. We lump the Swifties and the Moories into the same bucket. We defend the voters in the middle and the undecideds who don’t live on the edges and breath fire at the other side but who are, indeed, trying to figure out who the hell to vote for this fall, because it sure ain’t easy. Glad to see Andrew there.

Mars National Convention v. Venus National Convention

Mars National Convention v. Venus National Convention

: Also on Bill Maher’s show, he was depressed that the Republicans run a better convention than the Democrats, a better show.

Maher thinks the Republicans are all about emotions and the Democrats are all intellectual. I don’t think I buy that.

On a truly awful local NPR show today, some lady complained about the “hyper-masculinization” of politics by the Republicans. That’s crap but still, it actually makes better (useless) sense: Republicans are male and aggressive (“Bring it on!”); Democrats are female and sensitive (yes, the “sensitive” war on terror). If you’re going to deal in gross oversimplifications, at least make them make sense.