Thursday, August 18, 2005

Extremists on our Doorstep

Rafael at the Observer Blog has posted a summary of what we now know about the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes. It's a short post with a lot to say.

There's a comment on that post, left by an anonymous "me", which I find rather troubling.
I don't understand you people! Many hundreds of thousands of people - Muslim and non - will need to be killed in order to exterminate the jihad. You leftists need to make a decision: Either the caliphate or systematic war against radical islam.
I've read other comments along the same lines. Sadly, this sort of thinking is becoming well established in certain quarters. This one is a particularly repulsive example though. Let's have a look at these three ghastly, and, let's face it, downright idiotic sentences.
I don't understand you people!
I suspect the author doesn't try to understand anything much. Let me explain. People are angry because our security forces have shot an innocent, already phyically restrained man in the head. Repeatedly. Without provocation. Without any sign of suspicious behaviour on the part of the victim. And then, just to add a further layer of horrendousness, the authorities allowed a completely fictitious account of the incident to remain in the public demain, even when they undoubtedly knew it was entirely inaccurate. (In a comment to an earlier post, Phil at Actually Existing points out another of the lies surrounding this event.) It's not hard to understand the "you people" in question. It's a lot harder to understand why anyone wouldn't feel outraged by this.
Many hundreds of thousands of people - Muslim and non - will need to be killed in order to exterminate the jihad.
I've not got much to say about this. This is on the extreme side of an already extreme position. Many hundreds of thousands of people? Will need to be killed?
Why exactly would anyone think that? I really have no idea. At the risk of constructing a straw man, the only thing I can think to suggest is the possibility that the author rather enjoys violent killings.
You leftists need to make a decision: Either the caliphate or systematic war against radical islam.
This is the point I seem to read more and more often and the one I really want to address. In the US, and increasingly in the UK too, there seems to be a growing fear of the re-establishment of the Caliphate. Again, I struggle to understand how anyone arrives at this view (although it's fair to say that the scaremongering of much of the media (and a section of the blogging community) probably has to take some of the blame).

Let's leave aside the fact that the US was never part of the original Caliphate. Can anyone explain just how the extremists are going to force a Caliphate upon the liberal democracies of Europe? What stages are going to be involved in the transformation from one to the other? There's no denying that there are extremists who would like a return of the Caliphate and I'm sure they're working hard, to the best of their twisted abilities, to bring this about. I'd compare it to my desire to drive an F1 car.* I'm desperate to make it happen but it's just not possible that I will succeed. You see, I'm 6 feet 4 inches tall, and I'm, er, big boned. It would be physically impossible for me to actually fit inside an F1 car (this is, of course, the only reason why I haven't had a long glorious career in F1). In much the same way, the Caliphate just will not fit into the world we now live in, no matter how much certain people might want it to.

Let's take the UK as an example. OK, it was never in the original Caliphate either, but it's where I live, and it's where the shooting occurred. At the last general election, there was no sign that the population was inclined to vote for the introduction of Sharia law. I'd say it's safe to rule out this happening in our lifetimes so we're not going to join the Caliphate through a democratic process anytime soon. Which leaves us with what? The UK government is going to surrender to the extremists?
"OK, we give up. There have been too many suicide bombings. The UK government has decided to surrender to the terrorists, extremists and fundamentalists so they can run the country as part of the new Muslim empire."
Now, our government's done some really stupid things in the "war" on terror, but we can be reasonably confident that they'll never do this. How else are we going to end up with this new dreadful global Caliphate we keep hearing about?

The simple answer is that we're not. The return of the Caliphate is the new bogeyman of certain sections of those on the right. It has something of the Cold War "domino theory" about it (apart from the fact that it's far less plausible). I'm sure it's similarly useful for fuelling increases in military spending though.

*Btw, I feel rather guilty about my love of F1 cars. It's a long story.

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