Then there is the partisan argument, as made most memorably by a journalist who openly hoped the terrorists would be white right-wingers. There is an unnoticed dimension here. If the attack is seen as a political defeat it cannot be a learning experience. The question isn’t, “does this attack tell us something important about the real world?” but, “How can we explain it away so we don’t suffer losses in the effort to fundamentally transform America into a just, non-racist society?”
And so it can be claimed that, in a sense, white right-wingers, or at least the kind of policies they would endorse, did cause the Boston attack. America was mean to these kids; it is aggressive in other countries, counter-terrorist protection was reduced by budget cuts.
In other words, lying, concealing, and misleading become defined as virtuous. As Trudeau said, talking honestly about revolutionary Islamism would be to inspire more racism and terrorism.
Finally, there is a “full admission” fallback argument on which U.S. foreign policy is based. Sure it was those evil SOBs at al-Qaeda. That’s why other Islamists are relatively good. That’s why we have to promote them into power since only they can counter the “bad” Islamists. That’s why Islamist governments in Egypt, the Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Syria, Tunisia, and Turkey are good for you.
Indeed, Secretary of State John Kerry in Turkey compared Americans’ feelings about the Boston attack to Turkish feelings about the killing of jihadis engaged in supporting a terrorist group (Hamas) who attacked Israeli soldiers during the Gaza flotilla incident. This should not be seen merely as a clumsy statement but as dangerous and revealing stupidity.
It is dangerous because it tells Muslims that they are equally the victims of “our” terrorism; and it is revealing because the context shows the equation of all violence, no matter what the cause, that reinforces such thinking. A U.S. attack on terrorists in Yemen, Afghanistan, or elsewhere then becomes anti-Muslim violence that justifies the next terror attack in an American city.
Former NBC anchorman Tom Brokaw explained that American drones were killing innocent people and this led to rage against the “presumptuousness of the United States.”
In an honest discussion it must be considered what U.S. policy factors lead to terrorism. But now there is the transfer to America of the old “cycle of violence” argument about the Middle East. Terrorists murder Israeli civilians or fire rockets at Israel; Israel defends itself and the two events are treated as indistinguishable. Defending yourself offends people.
The proper response is to denounce the terrorists, the ideology of terrorism and the right of focused self-defense, which means doing everything possible to retaliate against those responsible and not citizens of another country chosen at random.
The American secretary of state, a leading Canadian politician, journalists, and others are thus rationalizing in advance more such attacks. They will get their “wish” and then explain away the next event as more proof for their worldview.
Originally published at Rubin Reports.Barry Rubin
About the Author: Professor Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. See the GLORIA/MERIA site at www.gloria-center.org.
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