I haven’t blogged about the appalling terrorist atrocity in Russia until now. The immensity, horror and pointlessness of the calculated slaughter of so many children is almost beyond comprehension let alone words.
Several bloggers, including Darp Hau, John Quiggin and Rob Schaap have had a respectable stab at analytical posts. But they all involved reflecting about “root causes”. You can almost feel the RWDBs warming up the scornful rhetoric: “root causes” is the hallmark of limp-wristed, communard surrender monkeys. But somehow or other we have to attempt to understand the origins of this depraved, evil behaviour. It certainly must lie partly in Chechnya’s long history of Russian occupation, humiliation and brutal almost genocidal repression.
But I can’t help thinking there must be more to it.
The RWDBs hate the lefties’ talk of “root causes”, but most lefties studiously avoid any mention of the “M” word. Professor Bunyip has no such compunction, gleefully quoting wholesale from some Muslim-Australian discussion board as if that was enough to condemn just about everyone of the Islamic faith as apologists or fellow travellers with the slaughterers of children. But you can find equally ignorant, hateful, narrow-minded, paranoid posts on most discussion boards. The sorts of people who inhabit them are hardly representative of an entire religion or nation.
Nevertheless, I think today’s editorial in The Australian made some important points in a more restrained way:
Whether there are direct linkages between al-Qa’ida and the Chechen militants or not and there is plenty of evidence to suggest there are the militants’ willingness to take out as many innocent people as possible, while rushing eagerly towards their own martyrdom, reflects again the utter clash of value between Islamism and liberal democracy. We, by our natures and cultural conditioning, embrace life, tolerance and the future. The Islamists embrace death, unrelenting cultural hatred and a frozen historical vision in which all progress is brought to a halt. While this attitude is a perverted offshoot of Islam, it is an offshoot nevertheless, and challenges all Muslim leaders to take the sternest measures against extremism, being careful not to send one set of messages out to the West, while broadcasting a different set within their own communities. The expressions of sympathy towards the Russian people that have flowed from countries such as Syria and Iran are encouraging, but need to be matched by deeds the kind of deeds that have seen the Pakistani Government round up an impressive array of al-Qa’ida’s leadership over the past few months.
I also can’t help pondering some wider questions that many on the left would regard as taboo. Given the appalling scale and inhumanity of this event, along with all the others that have preceded it in so many different regions of the world, is there something about the religion of Islam that generates such barbarity in so many different places?
You can certainly point to the history of Russian oppression in Chechnya, and of the Palestinians by the Jews. But what about the Saudi fanatics who seem to be behind so many of these terrorist atrocities? How have they been oppressed? They’re mostly wealthy spoiled middle class brats from a violent, feudal society that has acquired more money than it knows how to spend responsibly, because it’s sitting on a sea of oil. And what of Muklas and Hambali and their ilk in Indonesia, or the Islamic terrorists of the Philippines and Thailand? Who has oppressed them recently? Certainly not the “West”.
I can’t help wondering whether there’s some contagion of evil infecting the evolved Muslim faith, that causes violence and barbarity to be committed so readily by its adherents in so many different countries with so many different histories.
Many people on the left would be perfectly comfortable entertaining the possibility that the Catholic religion, with its priestly celibacy and “right to life” perspectives, might breed sick sexual attitudes that partly explain the apparent long-term prevalence of priestly pedophile activity and its endemic covering up by otherwise good men. Yet entertaining such thoughts about the Islamic faith is condemned as racism almost by definition (or some similarly politically correct epithet that declares the thought off-limits).
I might of course be completely wrong. It may just be the pernicious influence of wealthy Wahabbi agents of influence spreading the contagion of a virulent specifically Saudi strain of Islam via madrassa throughout the Islamic world, teaching young Muslims to hate, and then providing them with the practical training, weapons and money to turn that hate into the blood of innocent people. And muddling, arrogant Americans stoking the fires of youthful passion still further with their hasty, ill-considered military interventions and kneejerk assumption that everyone agrees grasping greed, Maccas and Eminem are the epitome of world civilisation to which all should aspire.
Or it may just be that however prosperous and “civilised” the world gets, there is an ineradicably evil aspect to human nature that will always find an outlet somewhere. The Muslim “Ummah” is just human culture’s current fault-line where that innate evil finds expression at this moment of history.
Buggered if I know. And it doesn’t really help in suggesting solutions anyway. But nor does the left’s piecemeal search for “root causes” in individual nations. On the other hand, pondering the possible deficiencies of the Islamic faith might conceivably further inflame religious hatred and intolerance. That road makes the worst aspects of Huntington’s Clash of Civilisations a self-fulfilling prophecy, and promotes the sort of Holy War that Osama and his insane crew are manifestly trying to generate. What scares me witless about the whole thing is that I can’t begin to understand the causes, let alone imagine any possible solutions. When I was young I thought I knew all the answers, but as I get older I realise I can’t even begin to formulate the questions. But it won’t stop me doubting and asking them, and irritating the hell out of blog readers in the process.