The Woolwich horror demands a response

The murder of Lee Rigby is an atrocity which demands a response. No one else should have to suffer his fate

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Tributes to Lee Rigby have been forthcoming from across the nation
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Peter Cannon
On 28 May 2013 11:05

The atrocity in Woolwich last week was one of almost unspeakable cruelty. Any right-minded person would have felt shock and intense anger that a British citizen was publicly butchered to death on the streets of his own capital city. The fact that the victim was a soldier, and targeted for this reason, made the killing feel much more raw and direct, as if this was an attack on us all. That this happened in full public view added a feeling of helplessness and frustration to our anger.

The minority of people who argue that this should be treated as ‘just another murder’ – as though this case was not exceptional – are not only wrong but callous and wilfully blind to the problem. An unarmed British soldier was murdered in the most brutal way in broad daylight on a London street for the very reason that he was a British soldier. The killers then stood there and gloated over their crime and shouted their reasons, based on their extreme Islamist ideology.

Those who claim that this killing was done by two ‘nutters’ who ‘happened to be Muslim’, or ‘happened to invoke Islam’, are dodging the issue. This is just intellectual laziness or moral cowardice, an unwillingness to face up to the very real problem of extreme Islamism.

The contemptible tiny minority that tries to draw comparisons between this killing and British military actions in Afghanistan are morally warped. All wars cause civilian deaths, but British soldiers in Afghanistan are not in the business of running down Afghan civilians and then hacking them to death with cleavers. British troops are there with the consent of the elected Afghan government and the authority of the UN. The vast majority of deaths in Afghanistan (as all UN and NGO studies demonstrate) are caused by the Taliban and other Islamist insurgents, not ISAF forces.

If our critics really wanted to look at who was ‘killing Muslims worldwide’, they would find that the answer is violent Islamists and repressive regimes, not the West. The argument that ‘Western foreign policy’ causes terrorism does not get us very far. What are they suggesting: that Al-Qaeda should be given a veto over every action we take abroad, that we should defer to the judgment of machete-wielding terrorists?

Yet rather than addressing the actual atrocity, a certain type of leftist felt the need to lecture the rest of us about how we must not respond in a racist or ‘Islamophobic’ way. They quickly forgot the dead soldier who had been butchered and moved on to their fears of an anti-Muslim backlash. They evidently found it easier to condemn hypothetical hordes of racist Britons for things they may or may not do than to condemn the Islamist murderers for what had already been done. Likewise, they were far more comfortable condemning the EDL and the far Right than condemning the Islamist extremists who perpetrated the atrocity.

While claiming to stand against bigotry, these leftists display a bigoted and patronising view towards their fellow British citizens. They are happy condemning their ‘own people’ and yet do not feel at all comfortable having to confront and condemn the Islamist extremists who hate Britain and whose ideology opposes our entire way of life.

The possibility that there is an enemy worse than their own country is a challenge for these people. The thought that there might actually be extremists from a minority within a minority, who are more dangerous than the EDL and the BNP, is clearly something they struggle with.

Indeed, I suspect that many, especially in the media and the political elite, had rather forgotten about the problem of Islamist extremism, thinking it had died down and mostly gone away. I fear that some in our political class viewed Islamist extremism as mere ‘blowback’ from the Iraq  War and the War on Terror, an unfortunate by-product of the interventionist foreign policy of the Blair era which we could now ‘move on’ from as our troops are back from Iraq and on their way to coming back from Afghanistan.

This view is dangerously naive and fails to comprehend the depth of the problem, which is rooted in Islamist ideology, not the policy of any British or other Western government. But people find it easier to imagine that terrorists have rational grievances that can be appeased. Some continue to view our enemies as ‘bogeymen’ who have been exaggerated, even though Islamist terrorists demonstrate again and again that the danger they pose is very real.

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