Tuesday, July 12, 2005

PORTSTEWART, Northern Ireland. — Politicians and much of the media in Britain are engaged in a familiar Western practice after a terrorist attack. They think they can explain it using Western standards.

Many Americans blamed U.S. race riots in the 1960s on racism and unemployment, which contributed to hopelessness they said only equality and prosperity could solve. That most unemployed blacks did not riot escaped the mainly white sociologists and commentators who desired a “nonjudgmental” explanation for lawless behavior. Having abandoned a sense of personal responsibility for one’s actions, the explainers and excusers of evil and illegal acts in America 40 years ago have been reincarnated in Britain.

Now unemployment and hopelessness among Muslims are the root cause of terrorism. Finding jobs for them so they can drive nice cars, live in upscale flats and attend West End theaters supposedly will convert them to the British way of life.

Or maybe evil America caused the terrorist attacks. If only the U.S. had not invaded Iraq and dragged Britain along, perhaps Britain might have been spared the bus and tube bombings.

Sometimes it takes an outsider to bring people to their senses. Former Israeli Prime Minister (and current Cabinet minister) Benjamin Netanyahu told BBC’s “Breakfast” program Sunday that Iraq and other actions by Britain and America are the consequences of terror attacks, not the cause.

He said to blame Britain and the United States for causing terrorism is “reverse causality.” Mr. Netanyahu recalled the numerous terror attacks before the Iraq war and prior to the attacks on America of September 11, 2001, noting there was Islamic terrorism before 1948 when Israel became a modern state. If recent Israeli, American and British policies cause terrorism, how does one explain earlier terrorism?

In the United Kingdom, the Sunday Times carried a Page One story exploding the myth of a causal relationship between terrorism and poverty among Muslims. The newspaper reported on leaked Whitehall documents that show “Al Qaeda is secretly recruiting affluent, middle-class Muslims in British universities and colleges to carry out terrorist attacks” in Britain. The targets of the “extremist recruiters” are students with “technical and professional qualifications.”

These are not Muslims without a future. These are bright and educated students who, if they wished, could be productive and prosperous members of British society. But many embrace a false theology and a god who requires them to kill “infidels.”

No amount of aid from the G-8 industrial nations to the “Palestinians,” nor resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict, will pacify these current and potential killers. Even if Israel was obliterated (the goal of much of the Muslim world), the terror would continue until the entire non-Islamic world is under their control.

This is not the belief of an “Islamophobic” bigot. This is what they say in their sermons and media, teach in their schools, and believe in their hearts. It matters little that “the overwhelming majority of Muslims are not terrorists,” to quote a familiar Western mantra. It matters a great deal that most terrorists are Muslims. The sooner Western leaders and Western media begin stating what is obvious to most people, the quicker the real root cause can be dealt with.

The excuses given by Westerners and many Muslim clerics for terrorism are just that: excuses.

If Britain and the West are guilty of failing to adequately address the “oppression” of Muslims in Kashmir and Chechnya, do they earn points for intervening in Bosnia to protect Muslims and sending billions to the Palestinian Authority, money that went down a rat hole of corruption?

Do America and Britain win friends among Muslims for allowing them to practice their faith openly (no Muslim country offers the religious tolerance Muslims enjoy in the U.S. and Britain)? Why must America and Britain be held accountable for every perceived and actual slight against Muslims, but beheadings of Westerners receive little more than pro forma condemnation and are soon forgotten?

More than 25 years ago, then-British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher famously noted we in the West are mistaken when we transpose our morality on those who don’t share it. Terrorists do not share and cannot be made to share our morality.

There will be no detente, entente or peace treaty between the forces of darkness and those of light. As much as Western politicians may wish to avoid the true root cause of this war, they do so at their citizens’ peril. This is a religious war. The terrorists understand it as such. Too many in the secular and wimpishly religious West do not.

Cal Thomas is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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