In yesterday's column Peter Worthington wrote:
In Britain, police now shoot suspects. Good.
By yesterday Worthington had had lots of time to find out that the suspect killed by British police was an innocent Brazilian. In today's column he spends the first few paragraphs backpedalling like crazy without ever admitting that he was applauding the death of an innocent - just like the terrorists. Then he comes out with this:
Mere suspicion, in these days of suicide bombers, can get you shot by accident.
The ones to blame for this perilous policy are Muslims -- not that all Muslims are terrorists, but most terrorists these days are Muslim.
Notice how he makes the simple declarative stereotype first and then scurries to qualify it. Guess which part of that sentence Worthington wants to stay with you.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that things are just a bit more complicated than Worthington (or for that matter, Spouting Thomas Friedman*) would have us believe. Certainly there's a hard core of Islamist fundamentalists like Bin Laden whose terrorist activity predates the war on Iraq. And certainly the answer isn't to negotiate with them or offer them understanding, although trying to understand them might just pay off if it helps to anticipate their next move.
But there is a larger group of more recent recruits whose motives for turning terrorist might just include the war in Iraq, the treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Gitmo and other reasons we aren't hearing about from pundits like Worthington. And beyond that there's an even larger group of soft, passive supporters and potential recruits whose motivations might be even more varied.
In short, there might be things we could consider doing to isolate the Bin Ladens, to further soften that soft support instead of hardening it. But you won't hear that from the Friedmans and the Worthingtons. Instead it's all the fault of the other. No need for even a moment's introspection or a moment's consideration about how to meet the threat of terrorism other than to say it's someone else's problem and someone else's fault.
It's enough to make you thing that Worthington wants the conflict to escalate. I guess he assumes his side will win.
I wonder what winning looks like.
* Friedman would have qualified for Wanker of the Week if he hadn't written that last week.