Defeating the Terrorists

The bombs which blasted London recently were a wanton act of evil. Ordinary people, on their way to work, were killed in an attack that had no point except to promote terror and fear. Despite popular impressions, terrorist attacks by Islamic extremists are not condoned by the ordinary Muslims who live in our various Western communities. Yet it is the fear of terrorism from non-Muslims that have resulted in a form of racial fear. Such is the nature of a panicked community, all Muslims are now implictly suspected of terrorism. It is this situation - a further breaking apart of cultural divisions caused by racism on both sides - that is the real success of those who planned the bombing.

Fear and mistrust are normal reactions to the current crisis - but we must all learn not to trust our feelings and instead trust in facts gained from objective research. Anyone from a minority culture feels alienated from the majority. If their skin is a different colour, these divisions are more pronounced. In order to survive as a minority, many celebrate their differences by adhering to cultural activities that help define them as a people - far more so than if they were living in their country of origin. We, as the majority, expect them to "fit in", but if our rules go beyond mere adherence to our system of law, and instead focus upon external things like dress, food, language and family relationships, then we end up alienating them and making life difficult for them.

Ideally, Muslims who live in Western society should feel liberated. They should be able to lift their heads high as they walk through the streets. They should be treated the same way as everyone else when they enter our shops and purchase our goods. They, like us, should be able to trust our system of law, fully expecting to be treated without prejudice in an objective and dispassionate way.

The problem is, of course, that terrorist bombs do little to promote rationality in any community. They promote hate and anger. They promote a desire for revenge. They promote irrational thought, even from those who should know better. Innocent members of the cultural majority begin to mistrust and despise innocent members of the minority. The minority, feeling this fear and pressure, and themselves unbalanced by the terrorist attacks, become hostile and defensive. These are all the natural result of base emotions taking over. The terrorists know this.

The shooting death of an innocent suspect in the London bombings could therefore not have come at a worse time. I don't know the full story of what happened, but what I do know is disturbing. Any death is a tragedy. The fact that this man was totally unrelated to the terrorist events makes it even worse. Regardless of the nature of the police operation and the actions of the man, the fact is that an innocent man was killed by the authorities who suspected him of being involved with the terrorists.

This may have been a totally isolated case. The officer who pulled the trigger may have done so accidentally - or maybe he was unbalanced and incapable of performing his duty properly, unlike the rest of the Police. But this is all about facts. This is all about evidence and forensic study and official interviews with witnesses. But that is the problem - very few people these days are willing to temper their emotions and beliefs by relying upon facts.

The result of the killing has been a marked deterioration in race relations. British Muslims - in fact, anyone with dark skin who lives in the UK - are now more frightened than ever that the White majority will use their power to bestow punitive punishment upon the cultural minority. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to bitterness, and, for some, this will inevitably lead to direct action - riots, crimes and, for a select few, the joining of a secret terrorist cell.

The only guilty party in the bombings were the suicide bombers themselves, as well as those who planned it. Yet the result could easily end up being lawlessness from both sides of the cultural divide. When that occurs, the Terrorists win.

To prevent this from occurring, leaders from both cultures need to lead by example. They need to speak from their minds, not just from their hearts. They need to acknowledge that anger and bitterness are natural results of such a tragedy, but that these emotions need to be controlled, rather than to control. More than that, they must be seen by their people to bridge that cultural divide and show respect to the other, and also to criticise anyone from their own culture who is guilty of wrongdoing.

But it is the leaders of the cultural majority that must take the initiative to do this first. They must approach the minority with respect first. They must make it clear that these terrorists are not truly representative of the minority culture. In response, the leaders of the minority must preach peace and tolerance and respect to their own people.

It's hard. I don't envy the roles of Tony Blair and his fellow politicians in speaking peace and acceptance to Britain's Muslims. Nor do I envy the roles of mainstream Islamic leaders in Britain, who should appear on national TV, denouncing Terrorism and promoting peace with white Britons. It is hard, it is very, very hard.

But it is always hard to build, and it is so easy to destroy. Cross-cultural acceptance takes years, decades even, to make inroads. But it can take just four men with bombs in their backpacks to destroy such goodwill in seconds.

Terrorists are guided by their bitterness and their commitment to their cause. They are unable to move from their path unless their views on the "enemy" are changed. The only way that these views can be changed is if the West intervenes in Islamic countries, showing over time that trust and goodwill can be fostered with mutual respect. Many Muslims denounce the West generally, and the U.S. specifically, for their acts of "terrorism" against Islamic nations via direct aggression or quiet indifference. Now is not the time to defend ourselves against such a charge through fancy arguments. Now is the time for us to show compassion towards those who hate us, to show mercy and justice to those who attack us, and to show respect to those who come under our influence and control.

If we do not do this, then the Terrorists will win, no matter how many we kill.

From the Department of "Wha Happnin?"

© 2005 Neil McKenzie Cameron, http://one-salient-oversight.blogspot.com/

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