Other people far away
Periodically, the Guardian newspaper carries an op-ed piece on how somebody or other, typically a Western government, is sowing fear for some nefarious purpose. If the piece isn’t by Madeleine Bunting, then it’s likely to be by Simon Jenkins. And so it is today. He’s talking ‘scaremongering’, ‘politics of fear’, ‘fear politics’, ‘the pervasiveness of fear’…
Yes isn’t he just:
The media’s fondness for describing any explosion as “al-Qaeda-linked” has turned what was a tiny, if efficient, cabal of fanatics into a global menace, ridiculously on a par with Hitler and postwar communism…At least organised crime and communism posed genuine threats to American liberties. Al-Qaida does not, yet it has become the ruling obsession of Bush’s courtiers.
Norm retorts –
As long as the squads are only kidnapping, torturing and murdering people, you see, law and liberties remain intact – even if not the liberties of those particular people happening to be now dead or horribly injured.
There is something deeply contemptible about this section of Western liberal opinion and its most consistent organ, The Guardian. Its spokespeople can assimilate everything done by Islamist enemies of the rule of law and of the liberties of the not-yet-murdered…[O]nly let there be blood on the streets caused by groups openly proclaiming their hatred of secular law and liberty, and the Simon Jenkinses and the rest of his Guardianista ilk can’t wait to impress upon you how very relaxed you ought to be about it.
Let me zero in on the stupidity of ‘At least organised crime and communism posed genuine threats to American liberties. Al-Qaida does not, yet it has become the ruling obsession of Bush’s courtiers.’ Let me zero in on the stupidity and callous brutality of those two sentences. Here’s the thing: ‘American liberties’ are not the only issue here. It is entirely possible to think that al-Qaeda is no threat at all to American liberties or American anything else and still think that al-Qaida is a very horrible phenomenon, on a par with Nazism morally if not in its power (so far) to murder millions. It is entirely possible to think that we in the US can get along just fine even if al-Qaeda flourishes like the green bay tree in South Asia – and to think that our ability to get along just fine is not the only issue, is not the point here, is not the deciding factor. It is entirely possible to think that what happened in Mumbai was appalling and worth being very shocked and worried about because of the people of Mumbai. It is entirely possible to think that the spread of Islamism in much of the developing world could well leave the US almost untouched and still think it’s an absolute nightmare because of what it will do to the people who live under its crushing punitive rule.
This isn’t a very subtle or sophisticated thought, surely. It’s obvious enough, surely. It’s simple enough. Bad things are bad even if they happen to other people far away. That applies to DR Congo, Darfur, Zimbabwe, Burma, Saudi Arabia – it applies to more places than one likes to contemplate – and it applies to Mumbai and Kabul, too, even if New York and Washington remain unmussed forever.