Roger Scruton editorialized at The Times Online Apologists for terrorism (and they are not in short supply) argue that it is a weapon used by people who despair of achieving their goals in any other way. It is a cry from the depths by those deprived of a voice in the political process. The terrorist is not an aggressor but a victim, and we must disarm him not by violence but by addressing the grievance that motivates his deeds.
I never listen to apologists for terrorism, any more than I listen to the terrorists themselves.This argument has been used to excuse Palestinian suicide bombers, IRA kneecappers, Red Brigade kidnappers, and even the mass murderers of September 11. Its main effect is to blame the victim and excuse the crime. If you look at the actual condition of terrorists down the ages, however, you will soon discover that the excuse does not match the reality. Some terrorists have been poor and some have been victims of injustice. But those are the exceptions. The Jacobins, who unleashed the original Terror, were for the most part privileged members of the rising elite. The Russian anarchists of the 19th century were no worse off from the point of view of material and social privileges than you or me, and with grievances that were more the work of the imagination than the result of either observing or sympathising with the ordinary people of Russia. There is no evidence that Osama bin Laden’s entourage is any different, and even the IRA, which purports to represent the “oppressed” Catholics of Ulster, is very far from recruiting from those whose oppressed condition it loudly advertises. As for the Islamist terrorists who have targeted our cities, they tend to be well educated, specialists in medicine, engineering or computer science, people who might have helped to provide the Middle East with the stable middle class that it so badly needs, but instead have chosen another and faster route to glory. It seems to me that we will be nearer to understanding terrorism if, instead of looking at what terrorists have in common, we look at what is common to their victims.
A very good idea.The targets of terrorism are groups, nations or races. And they are distinguished by their worldly success — either material or social. The original Terror was directed against the French aristocracy — soon supplemented by all kinds of real and imaginary groups supposed to be aiding them. The Russian anarchists targeted people with wealth, office or power. The Great Terror of Stalin, initiated by Lenin, was directed against groups alleged to be profiting from the system that impoverished the rest. The Nazi terror picked on the Jews, because of their undoubted material success, and the ease with which they could be assembled as a group. Even the nationalist terrorists of the IRA and Eta variety are targeting nations thought to enjoy wealth, power and privilege, at the expense of others equally entitled. Islamic terrorists bomb the cities of Europe and America because those cities are a symbol of the material and political success of the Western nations, and a rebuke to the political chaos and deep-rooted corruption of the Muslim world.
And they also bomb innocent Iraqis, because they don't want them to have the benefits of Democracy.Success breeds resentment, and resentment breeds hate. This simple observation was made into the root of his political psychology by Nietzsche, who identified ressentiment, as he called it, as the distinguishing social emotion of modern societies: an emotion once ordered and managed by Christianity, now let loose across the world. I don’t say that Nietzsche’s analysis is correct. But surely he was right to identify this peculiar motive in human beings, right to emphasise its overwhelming importance, and right to point out that it lies deeper than the springs of rational discussion. In dealing with terrorism you are confronting a resentment that is not concerned to improve the lot of anyone, but only to destroy the thing it hates.
That is because terrorism is the embodyment of evilThat is what appeals in terrorism, since hatred is a much easier and less demanding emotion to live by than love,
But isn't it a sad place to live?and is much more effective in recruiting a following. And when the object of hatred is a group, a race, a class or a nation, we can furnish from our hatred a comprehensive stance towards the world. That way hatred brings order out of chaos, and decision out of uncertainty — the perfect solution to the alienated Muslim, lost in a world that denies his religion, and which his religion in turn denies.
I am not aware of any restrictions on Moslems, Prior to 9/11, and if he feels his religion denies the world, perhaps he should study his religion more.Of course hatred has other causes besides resentment. Someone who has suffered an injustice may very well hate the person who committed it. However, such hatred is precisely targeted, and cannot be satisfied by attacking some innocent substitute. Hatred born of resentment is not like that. It is a passion bound up with the very identity of the one who feels it, and rejoices in damaging others purely by virtue of their membership of the targeted group. Resentment will always prefer indiscriminate mass murder to a carefully targeted punishment. Indeed, the more innocent the victim, the more satisfying the act. For this is the proof of holiness, that you are able to condemn people to death purely for being bourgeois, rich, Jewish, or whatever, and without examining their moral record.
The tendency to resent lies in all of us, and can be overcome only by a discipline that tells us to blame faults in ourselves and to forgive faults in others. This discipline lies at the heart of Christianity and many argue that it lies at the heart of Islam too. If that is so, it is time for Muslims to organise against those who preach resentment in the name of their religion, and who regard the crimes of last Thursday as virtuous deeds, performed with God’s blessing, in a holy cause.
Donald Sensing blogged Read also Crisis at heart of Islam, The west’s role in Islams’s war of ideas, Where is the Gandhi of Islam?.
Andrew Cochran has links to a number of articles.