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July 08, 2005

The London Attacks: what needs to be done?

Posted by Douglas Murray

The attacks on London clearly show - unlike what Michael Moore and his ilk would have us believe - that the terrorist threat is all too real. Douglas Murray - best-selling author and journalist and the author of the forthcoming Neoconservatism: Why We Need It, to be published this autumn by the Social Affairs Unit - argues that these attacks make the need for a strong alliance of free peoples and free countries to oppose jihadist terrorism even clearer. As with everything the Social Affairs Unit publishes, the views expressed in this article are those of the author, not those of the Social Affairs Unit, its Trustees, Advisors or Director.

Terrible as they were, no honest person could say that the multiple and synchronised attacks on London yesterday were unexpected. Rush-hour commuter trains and buses were the target - scores of dead and injured the aim. Only those millions across Britain and Europe who have consistently claimed over recent years that there is no war on terror, could have failed to see this coming. Unfortunately, there are lots of them: fans of Michael Moore, The Power of Nightmares, and the like – all of which claim that the terrorist threat is a bogeyman invented by President Bush and Tony Blair to frighten us. Well yesterday morning, once again, was demonstration as though demonstration were needed, that the terrorist-threat does exist, and that we have to continue thinking of ways to deal with it.

The first thing to do, rather obviously, is to identify the enemy. But the ability to do this seems to elude many people. Within hours of the attack the prospective Tory leader David Davis, speaking on behalf of the Conservative party in the House of Commons announced that "the terrorism that walks the streets of London has no face". Meanwhile Deputy Assistant Commissioner Brian Paddick replied to a question in a televised news-briefing by saying that "terrorism and Islam do not go together". To make such claims is not merely to repeat unsupportable tropes, it is also to infantilise the British public. For what such suggestions are really doing, as American authorities did after 9/11 is treating the British as people who can't handle the truth, who you have to repeat clichés to, lest they indulge in a spate of Muslim-lynching (a thing without precedent or likelihood). Once again the governments of the West display their signature knee-jerk reactions: self-blame and self-excoriation.

Ken Livingstone marred an otherwise nobly-intended speech by implying that an attack on a multicultural society was worse than an attack on a mono-cultural one, and then apparently suggesting that the killing of working-class people was less justifiable than the massacring of the upper-classes. All of which would have been quite hard-enough to stomach without the knowledge that Ken Livingstone has spent his career befriending and defending terrorists and their supporters of several hues, specifically this kind, including of course Sheikh Al-Qaradawi. Indeed so vociferous a terrorist-defender is Mr Livingstone, that in the last year he has spent thousands of pounds of tax-payers' money defending his latest terrorist friend, even publishing a dossier about the "crimes" of Zionism, George Bush and all the other hate-figures of Islamic extremists and (not coincidentally) the hard left. The Mayor of London is just one of the socialists who have survived their careers by hoping we all forget about the allegiances of their past, but since the Sheikh's visit to London was only last year, hopefully enough Londoners will remember and reflect on this.

Because of course you can't have it both ways. Since even the greatest London terror-apologist would now have to concede that the terrorist threat is not a fiction, the question is what you do about it. The answer is that you go after the terrorists. To do so you have to at least be willing to identify who they are.

For four years now, Londonders have had a reprieve from direct involvement in the war on terror. Sure, they often emoted on the streets about how "upset" and "concerned" they were about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (which affected their daily lives not a jot), but the war had not come to them. Our media and government got lazy (though not – it should be noted – our superb intelligence or emergency services) and gave larger and larger megaphones to those who hate us and those who defend those who hate us.

So we breed Asif Mohammed Hanif and Omar Khan Sharif in our midst, two young men who go out to Tel Aviv and blow up Jews in the name of jihad. And what do we do at home? Nothing. We breed Omar Sheikh in our midst and send him to the LSE: he graduates to Pakistan and saws the head of Daniel Pearl. And what do we do at home? Nothing.

Nothing is done about the unknown number of fighters who have left Britain to go to Iraq and Afghanistan to murder members of our armed forces. Nothing is done about those who encourage them to do this. Nothing is done about the countless number of young Muslims who go around with pictures of Westerners being decapitated on their cell-phones or questions where their allegiances may really lie. Nothing is done about those who act as apologists for the terrorists, or who pretend to condemn crimes against British people, but seem to believe that Jews can be blown up without remorse. Indeed, so unperturbed are we by our position as a centre from which terrorists are sent out to kill and maim Americans, Jews and our own British soldiers, that we even invite one of the men who acts as their greatest inspiration – not simply into the city which has now been bombed, but give him the full red-carpet honoured-guest treatment.

You can't befriend the preacher and claim the preached to is misguided, as Mr Livingstone does.

Some of us have argued for years, as Benjamin Netanyahu did in his 1995 book Fighting Terrorism, that Israel is our canary in this mine. What the terrorists do in Israel, they will do here when they get the chance. For years they have been walking onto buses with bombs to blow up Israelis and yesterday morning they made their bus-blowing debut in London. Perhaps it is now clearer to some people that this war against terror is not an invention whipped up by the "right". And nor is it a PR war. It is a war, period, and we are in the same boat as Israel and all other targeted nations.

I must add a caveat. Over the years since 2001 some of us have been repeatedly chastised for using language or speaking truths which are considered un-pc, negative or "unhelpful". From that point of view we might be able to regard today in London as "day zero".

From now on Londoners at least have been reminded that what is "bad" and what is "unhelpful" is walking onto trains and buses and blowing up Londoners because they are on their way to work in a democracy. From today we know that what is "dangerous" or "inciteful" is not speaking uncomfortable truths, but going onto commuter trains and planting bombs. This is the new standard, one which a society closeted from terror for a merciful four years must now re-learn. Giving offence or causing upset looks very small beer indeed beside the twisted wreckage of a bus in Tavistock Square.

Since 9/11 writers and non-writers in the West have been prosecuted, threatened with prosecution and generally cowed by a campaign aimed at silencing criticism of the anti-state extremists in our midst who are the culprits of these attacks – attacks which have been aimed at every one of our allies in Europe, America and in the Middle East. We have now, like them, been the subject of barbarous attack by a common enemy. That enemy is the same enemy that yesterday slaughtered, with cowardice and dishonour, the Egyptian ambassador to the new Iraq.

In the squares of London, the streets of Fallujah, the towers of New York and the cafes of Tel Aviv, an alliance has been re-forged. It is an alliance of free peoples and free countries whose enemy is a jihadist crusade launched to kill us and enslave us. By attempting to split us they have united us. And what we are united in is not a vague concept or a sentimental modern piety, but democracy, freedom and right. We are united in our opposition to terror, our knowledge of a common enemy, and the fire with which we will fight them.

Douglas Murray is a bestselling author and freelance journalist. His forthcoming book Neoconservatism: Why We Need It will be published this autumn by the Social Affairs Unit. The New York Sun has today published a piece by Douglas Murray on the London bombings as their lead op-ed.

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Well done for saying what needs to be said - an excellent thoughtful piece and I am looking forward to the book. Although Neoconservatism seems quite a move from Bosie, Lord Alfred Douglas

Posted by: Jonathan at July 9, 2005 07:59 PM

Wonderful article. You have put into words what many of us Brits are now thinking. If only this piece was on the front page of every British newspaper!

Posted by: logan at July 10, 2005 11:24 PM

Every time that the West suffers a terrorist attack, we are subjected to a subsequent attack on our intellects by politicians and editorialists seeking to deny that it is Western political policies to which the terrorists respond -- not, as they endlessly repeat, that terrorists are somehow against our 'way of life' as if they attack because we go to movies or drink two pints afterwards.

This is intentional disinformation, of an Orwellian sort, inflicted on us by our masters in order to avoid responsibility for what they fear may be unpopular policies.

On this website, Dr McRoy quotes those claiming to be the terrorists, saying that the attacks respond to 'Zionist' Western governments occupying Iraq and Afghanistan. They did not mention binge drinking and vomitting into telephone kiosks, pop concerts, teenage pregnancies, drug abuse or any other integral part of modern Western culture -- they mentioned overseas political interference because, one supposes, it matters to them.

So let us at least be honest enough to call a spade a spade. If we think it is worth these kinds of casualties to stand by Israel no matter what, if we think it a worthwhile price to pursue our wish for political change in Iraq and Afghanistan, then let us say so. At least tell the truth and deal with this through democratic debate rather than through the strategy of Big Lies common to totalitarian states.

Posted by: S Masty at July 12, 2005 10:01 AM
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