Home > World Events > Reading the small print (crossposted at CT)

Reading the small print (crossposted at CT)

July 26th, 2005

This morning’s email included one urging me to sign a statement headed “United Against Terror”. As the email said

The statement begins:

Terrorist attacks against Londoners on July 7th killed at least 54 people. The suicide bombers who struck in Netanya Israel on July 12 ended five lives including two 16 year old girls. And on July 13 in Iraq suicide bombers slaughtered 24 children. We stand in solidarity with all these strangers hand holding hand from London to Netanya to Baghdad: communities united against terror.

The statement ends:

We invite you to sign this statement as a small first step to building a global movement of citizens against terrorism.

Based on these extracts, I would have been happy to sign the statement, for what such gestures are worth. Having read the full statement, however, I decided not to, and concluded that the statement tended more towards disunity in the face of terrorism than unity. After reading some of the supporting statements on the website, I was very glad of this decision.

Briefly, the text omitted from the email summary included a lengthy argument to the effect that the attacks are the work of ‘terrorist groups inspired by a poisonous and perverted politics that disguises itself as a form of the religion of Islam’, and the gnomic, but easily decoded, statement that ‘these attacks did not begin in 2003′.

These claims are factually false or misleading. I don’t know the details of the Netanya and Baghdad attacks, but many terror attacks in Israel have been the work of secular Palestinian nationalist groups, and many terror attacks in Iraq have been organised by secular Baathists. And, while terror attacks did not begin in 2003, it is clear, at the very minimum, that recent terror attacks in Baghdad are a direct consequence of the invasion of Iraq in that year (whether or not you think good consequences outweighed the bad ones).

More importantly, the implied argument is either morally irrelevant or morally perverse. The emphasis on the specifically Islamist characteristics of the attacks we are asked to unite against suggests (if it is relevant at all) that other forms of terrorism, in support of other causes, might be morally justified. Would the organisers accept signatures from, say, Gerry Adams or Luis Posada? If not, why be so specific about the kind of terrorism that is being condemned here?

There’s no need to list the dozens of organisations (including governments) that currently engage in one form of terror or another. A simple statement that terrorism, whatever the purported cause and whoever the perpetrator, is a crime against humanity, would have been much more valuable than the tendentious analysis presented in this statement.

The implication of the statement, read as a whole, is that unity against terrorism requires unquestioning support for the Bush Administration, and denunciation of its opponents. When you read the supporting statements linked on the website, it quickly becomes apparent that this is the way the proponents themselves understand it. For examples, look here, here, here and here).

Moving as I did, from the email summary to the complete statement,and then to the supporting statements of the signatories, is a highly unpleasant experience. The email summary is one all decent people would endorse. The full statement, while tendentious, is within the bounds of civilised discourse. The supporting statements (at least most of those I sampled) drip with venomous hatred that would not be out of place on a jihadist website.

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  1. July 26th, 2005 at 18:40 | #1

    It’s even more inflammatory than most public neo-con discourse.

  2. July 26th, 2005 at 21:49 | #2

    Blow a dog whistle and the dogs will bark.

  3. July 26th, 2005 at 23:26 | #3

    Maybe we might be opposed to the causes of terrorism – such as invasions in the pursuit of imperialism and short term political leverage, of which the recent Iraq invasion is part of a historical pattern. To be opposed to terror is too abstract, and to be opposed to terrorism is too easy.

    Mercifully, I have chosen to pursue my rant elsewhere, but follow it I did.

  4. douglas
    July 27th, 2005 at 00:04 | #4

    John Quiggin,

    A small thing, I know, but I did sign the ‘United Against Terror’ statement. And I did it after reading a lot, but not all, of the reasons others had for signing it. I agreed with some, I disagreed with others. So what?

    It seems pretty clear to me that terrorism is a bad thing that no-one should support, and to be frank, your reasons for not signing ring very, very hollow with me.

    douglas

  5. dave
    July 27th, 2005 at 04:13 | #5

    Yes, douglas.

    Clearly, John Quiggin is objectively pro-terrorist and is simply lying when he says that “terrorism, whatever the purported cause and whoever the perpetrator, is a crime against humanity …”.

  6. douglas
    July 27th, 2005 at 05:36 | #6

    dave,

    Fine. Great. Wonderful. So where has he got a problem with signing it? Have you signed it?

    douglas

  7. dave
    July 27th, 2005 at 07:11 | #7

    Perhaps JQ has outlined his problems with signing it in the post somewhere?

  8. Andrew
    July 27th, 2005 at 08:46 | #8

    The reason JQ didn’t sign is because in his words -
    “The implication of the statement, read as a whole, is that unity against terrorism requires unquestioning support for the Bush Administration, and denunciation of its opponents”
    Like many on the left who loathe Bush, Howard and their overall policies – JQ clearly finds it difficult to get beyond his Bush hatred to be able to condemn the extremist Muslims reponsible for these horrific acts.

    JQ also clearly has a barrow to push with his assertation that “while terror attacks did not begin in 2003, it is clear, at the very minimum, that recent terror attacks in Baghdad are a direct consequence of the invasion of Iraq in that year”. Yes – obviously, but that does not mean that other terror attacks are a consequence of the liberation of Iraq. If the UK hadn’t been involved in getting rid of Saddam – would the 7/7 bombings not have happened?
    JQ is clearly one of ‘don’t poke the snake’ type of people…. all well and good when the snake is not an immediate danger to you…. but when it is in your loungeroom you need to deal with it….. terrorism is in our loungeroom and it’s been there well before the west finally took action against Saddam.

  9. Katz
    July 27th, 2005 at 09:34 | #9

    Osama bin Laden is clearly the most dangerous and evil terrorist in the world today. The destruction of innocent people in pursuit of any ambition is a heinous act against humanity.

    But before anyone signs a petition condemning the evil acts of others, moral clarity requires that the signer is has some knowledge of the acts he/she is condemning. And the signer must also be confident that the petition he/she is signing is condemning the same acts that the signer wishes to condemn. Otherwise, the signer may be endorsing an agenda that he/she does not wish to promote.

    Thus, before a person with moral clarity signs a petition against Osama bin Laden, it would be prudent for him/her to ask him/herself the following questions:

    1. Which of the acts in the following list are terrorist acts?

    2. Which of the acts in the following list are evil?

    3. Are some of these acts terrorist, but not evil?

    4. Is Islamic terrorism different in degree or kind from other examples of terrorism?

    [The following chronology is adapted from a PBS website.]

    Dec 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Bin Laden leaves Saudi Arabia to join the Afghan resistance (mujahedeen).

    1980-86 From the Pakistani border, bin Laden raises funds and provides the mujahedeen with logistical and humanitarian aid.

    1986-89 According to Islamic sources, bin Laden participates in numerous battles during the Afghan war against the Soviets as a guerilla commander, including the fierce battle of Jalalabad which led the Soviets to finally withdraw from Afghanistan. The activities were indirectly funded by the US Government via the ISI of Pakistan.

    1988 Bin Laden establishes “al Qaeda,” an organization of ex-mujahedeen and other supporters. Its mission is to channel fighters and funds (some sourced from the US Government) to the Afghan resistance.

    1989 After the Soviets pull out of Afghanistan, bin Laden returns to Saudi Arabia a hero. He becomes involved in opposition movements to the Saudi monarchy while working for his family construction firm, the Bin Laden Group.

    April 1991 Bin Laden flees Saudi Arabia, after being confined to Jiddah for his opposition to the Saudi alliance with the United States. He moves first to Afghanistan and then to Khartoum, Sudan by 1992 (Source: Newsweek 2/1/99). Sudan had begun to allow any Muslim into the country without a visa, in a display of Islamic solidarity. Allegedly, hundreds of suspected terrorists and ex-mujahedeen come to Sudan as a safe haven (Source: New York Times 9/21/98).

    1991 US troops fight Persian Gulf War. After victory, the US establishes a large permanent military presence in the region, including Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is the land of “the two most holy places” in Islam–Mecca and Medina.

    Dec 1992 A bomb explodes in a hotel in Aden, Yemen, where US troops had been staying while en route to a humanitarian mission in Somalia. The bomb killed two Austrian tourists; the U.S. soldiers had already left. Two Yemeni Muslim militants, trained in Afghanistan and injured in the blast, are later arrested. US intelligence agencies allege that this was the first terrorist attack involving bin Laden and his associates (Source: New York Times 8/21/98).

  10. jquiggin
    July 27th, 2005 at 09:37 | #10

    Andrew, as I said right at the beginning, I’d be happy to sign an unqualified condemnation of these attacks, expressing no view for or against the Iraq war.

  11. July 27th, 2005 at 10:07 | #11

    ‘terrorist groups inspired by a poisonous and perverted politics that disguises itself as a form of the religion of Islam’

    If this was in the statement I would not sign it either. No more than if the word Islam was replaced by Christianity or Hinduism.

    The causes of terrorism are complex and are not just the simplistic one of Islam. I would sign a statement comdemning all terrorist attacks. I fully support the statment of JQs “terrorism, whatever the purported cause and whoever the perpetrator, is a crime against humanity “

  12. July 27th, 2005 at 11:07 | #12

    I’ve signed heaps of “politcally incorrect” petitions and I have every intention of continuing to do so.

    The only other alternative I see is that I sign so few (if any at all) that the addressees of these petitions start to feel distinctly more comfortable and releived.

    Surely five million slightly ideologically flawed petitions have a greater effect than two lonely but perfectly expressed “masterpiece” petitions.

    Another case of political correctness gone stark raving mad I feel.

    I’d need an oxygen mask to survive at the moral heights some of you guys hang out at… Nice view from up there, is it? Sheesh!!!

    Quiggin, did you share your high falutin’ objections with the authors of the petition so as to assist them in correcting their “errors”? Or did you just sit back in smug supercilious silence? Hmmmmm?

  13. Andrew
    July 27th, 2005 at 11:09 | #13

    JQ – I can’t see any reference to the Iraq war in the statement – other than the oblique statement that terrorism did not start in 2003 – which is surely a fact is it not? So why not sign? This looks to me to be an unqualified condemnation of terrorism.

    Katz – you’re getting lost in rhetoric…. how can any act of terrorism not be evil?

  14. July 27th, 2005 at 11:19 | #14

    A question about process.

    What (legal?) validity does an internet based survey hold.

    I ask, because I could sign (not the right word I know) the petition as Mini Mouse.

    How is the validity of the petition per verifying the names listed on the petition undertaken/verified?

    Could such a petition be subject to ‘fraud’ by someone mischeviously listing names of the dead?

  15. wilful
    July 27th, 2005 at 11:34 | #15

    I’m vehemently opposed to George Bush, John Howard and the pack of lies that is the “War on Terrah”. And I have no bones to pick with Islam (beyond my general anti-theism).

    I don’t see a problem with the petition. I mean, it’s a wank – has an internet petiotion ever done any good, will one ever do any good?(oh and communities don’t sign petitions, individuals do) – but the sensitivity to secret pro-imperialist code seems to be set a bit high.

    I do have one serious problem with the petition – I think the lebensraum-loving zionists aren’t ‘victims of democracy and liberty’.

  16. July 27th, 2005 at 11:51 | #16

    Dr Knopfelmacher’s polemical tactic, when coming across ideological petitions drafted in high-minded, lofty sounding language but a with murky social lineage, was to dismiss them with the withering mal mot:
    “Moral Rhetoric – Yes, Social Analysis – No!”

    This was his satiric paraphrase of Sydney Hooks idealistic attempt to inveigh against both communism and McCarthyism:
    “Heresy – Yes, Conspiracy – No!”

    Moralistic rhetoric is usually a sanctimonious (subjective ideological) mask for the profane (objective societal) pursuit of worldly goods.

    I think this petition is a sign of political desperation on the part of the iraq Hawks. It is a not-too-well camouflaged attempt to harness popular moral outrage over recent terrorist attacks in London to the broken down nag of the Bush-Blair electoral machine.

    This would have the useful effect of focusing public attention onto the soft target of the Bin Laden bogey and diverting it away from their failed (Hawkish) foreign and (Wetish) cultural policies. It would also be useful to bolster up the sagging intellectual reputations of those agents who were most vociferous in supporting the war and are now finding that their investment has gone sour.

    Pr Q is fortunate in being endowed with exquisitly sensitive b.s. detectors which have once again saved him from being mired in the foul messes of the Bush admin.

  17. July 27th, 2005 at 12:04 | #17

    And the importance of signing or not this letter was… There are plenty of motherhood statements in internet waiting to be signed; most of them have no relevance at all, including this one.

  18. Andrew
    July 27th, 2005 at 12:12 | #18

    Jack – lift your head out of mire of politics for a moment and take a look around. This is not about the Bush-Blair electoral machine – this is about the evil of terrorism. Let’s get this straight – THERE IS NO JUSTIFICATION FOR TERRORISM…… please stop trying to find excuses, reasons, or blame the victims. Blaming the liberation of Iraq for the London terrorist attacks is akin to blaming the rape victim for wearing a short skirt. Don’t rationalise it – condemn it – and loudly!

    “not too well camouflaged attempt to harness popular moral outrage” Huh? camouflaged? Isn’t the exact point of this petition to harness the moral outrage we should all be feeling?

  19. Katz
    July 27th, 2005 at 12:20 | #19

    “Katz – you’re getting lost in rhetoric…. how can any act of terrorism not be evil?”

    My point precisely, Andrew.

    You need to ask yourself why the projectors of the petition in question don’t excoriate all terrorism, but merely concentrate on denouncing a limited set of terrorists.

    The answer to this question about the motivation of the projectors of the petition is provided by my old sparing partner Jack in the above post.

  20. July 27th, 2005 at 14:30 | #20

    A few years ago, when excuses were being made for a different bunch of thugs, it was fashionable to describe terrorism as “a weapon for revolutionaries with small resources”.

    It was a way of excusing barbarity; after all, how else could the powerless strike at the face of the mighty Hegemon. The phrase now neatly describes the tactics of the Islamists, and the prevarications of the useful idiots that seek to “understand” them. Blaming the intervention in Iraq for the latest attacks is fatuous; Iraq is just another contribution to Islamist grievance, rather than the prime cause of it.

    Much as it may offend the faux tolerance and multiculti sensitivities of the Latte Left, the fact is that Islam is the problem. Islam is, and always has been, a violent religion, expanding its hegemony through military conquest as a default strategy. Failing conversion, death or Dhimmitude has everywhere been the offered choice of victorious Islam. The talk we hear of of working with “moderate” Islam is nonsense. Spokesmen for this imagined tendency are hard to find because a Moslem either accepts his faith, and the duty to Jihad that attaches to it, or he does not. That is not to say that every Moslem wants to blow people up, rather that he will be loath to condemn those that do with any real conviction.

    Because Islam first came to dominance in a number of ancient centres of world civilisation, it was able to appropriate the pre-existing economic and organisational resources needed to enable its conquering ambitions, for a thousand years or so. But as the West recovered under the Christian institutions that enabled the emergence of superior organisational and economic forms, the conquering power of Islam was met and reversed, first in Spain and then at Lepanto and Vienna, culminating in the final collapse of the Ottoman Empire in 1923.

    Militant Islam cannot put a conquering army in the field today, so it opts for terrorism instead. One day, perhaps quite soon, it will augment its efforts with nuclear weapons. The question for the Left is; where will it sit then? Does it sit with the West or is it with the nasty, reactionary, medieval cult that seeks to destroy it.

  21. wilful
    July 27th, 2005 at 14:34 | #21

    Craig, moderate islamic friends I know think you’re a dill.

  22. Katz
    July 27th, 2005 at 14:43 | #22

    Speech of Pope Urban II urging the First Crusade, November 1095.

    “Jerusalem is groaning under the Saracen yoke. The Holy Sepulchre is in Moslem hands and has been turned into a mosque. Pilgrims are harassed and even prevented from access to the Holy Land.

    “The West must march to the defense of the East. All should go, rich and poor alike. The Franks must stop their internal wars and squabbles. Let them go instead against the infidel and fight a righteous war.

    “God himself will lead them, for they will be doing His work. There will be absolution and remission of sins for all who die in the service of Christ. Here they are poor and miserable sinners; there they will be rich and happy. Let none hesitate; they must march next summer. God wills it!”

    Bad luck Craig. You were born a 1000 years too late.

    Good news about the absolution of sins, however.

    But the downside was that there seem to have been no virgins in Urban’s heaven.

  23. July 27th, 2005 at 14:55 | #23

    interesting that Craig is from http://www.apcouncil.com.au/ – the australian productivity council – a right wing conservative think tank.

    I’m not sure if they support craigs limited and racist nonsense… Not sure what his post has to do with productivity either

  24. July 27th, 2005 at 16:09 | #24

    Wow, Craig used the words “fashionable” “useful idiots” “latte left”. I think that he also needed to include, un-Australian and moonbat, as this would neatly complete his tired RWDB cliche rant.

    Spokesmen for this imagined tendency are hard to find because a Moslem either accepts his faith, and the duty to Jihad that attaches to it, or he does not.

    Craig, that is an appallingly ignorant statement. Like Christianity, Islam has many different interpretations and practices that can vary from mosque to mosque. There have been a huge number of Mullahs to denounce terrorism.

  25. Nabakov
    July 27th, 2005 at 16:52 | #25

    Y’know, the “United Against Terrorism” folks and the Craigs of this world are very long on the absolutist “with us or against us”, “clash of civilisations”, “time to choose where you stand” rhetoric but rather short on the actual specifics of what we should do once we’re united – beyond not asking any awkward questions and unconditionally following our leaders.

    I didn’t sign any anti-war petitions because I didn’t think they’d have any effect on the eventual outcome, and this one strikes me as equally pointless. Are they gonna email it to OBL and sit back to wait for his surrender? Are the Iraqi insurgents gonna lay down their weapons and flock towards checkpoints waving printouts of the petition as proof of why they’re giving up in the face of the Western world’s unstoppable will.

    And going around asking for loyalty oaths in the name of “protecting freedom� and suchlike is sending a mixed message at best.

    Personally, I’m musing over the thought expressed by one commenter here. http://crookedtimber.org/2005/07/26/reading-the-small-print/

    “OK. Here’s one reason for not signing. I don’t wish to ‘Unite Against Terror.’ We weren’t united before, and I’ll be damned if the terrorists change the way we live.�

  26. stoptherubbish
    July 27th, 2005 at 17:18 | #26

    ‘I will choose how I think about terrorism, and I will choose how I express my opposition to the killing of human beings’.
    jq looks right on the money to me. I am sick and tired of the authoritarian neo con bullying, beautifully exampled by Daniel Pipes in today’s oz, that seeks to preempt any critical thinking about the ‘framing’ offered by the Heritage Foundation and the Bush/Blair gang on the issues presented to us all by the complete mess that is the ME.

    I have my views-who cares, they don’t make a difference, but I will be damned if a bunch of old fashioned thought police bullies have any right to require me to adopt their frame or their analysis of the events that have poured down over our heads in the last decade or so, on pain of being accused of being ‘soft on terrorism’. Damn the lot of you. You have a god damned hide to attempt to tell people how to think about the destruction of human beings, particulalry when in the attempt to bully people into your point of view, you are really asking them to give you permission to do what you like, when you like, how you like, because “we” are civilised and “they” are not.

  27. Andrew
    July 27th, 2005 at 18:23 | #27

    Shorter stoptherubbish

    “Bloody grrrr..”

    Couldn’t bloody agree more.

  28. Nabakov
    July 27th, 2005 at 21:31 | #28

    And as Jack pointed out earlier, there’s a distinct whiff of desperation about this exercise.

    “It wouldn’t be going so wrong in Iraq if you’d all just fall into line and get on message”.

    Or to paraphrase one gung-ho war sentiment, “The terrorists don’t care what you say or where you stand, they’ll kill you anyway”. And they sure as shit wouldn’t give a shit about this petition.

    I reckon Dsquared nailed it as a combination of loyalty oath and blank cheque. And to which I’d add, one that will still bounce anyway, and with lots of cursing.

  29. July 28th, 2005 at 00:48 | #29

    my own moral sensibilities have been so thoroughly frayed by the constant bombardment of world-wide neoimperial aggression that all these so-called “terrorist” attacks barely register on my poor old shockometer … so sorry if my lack of tact and compassion appalls those righteous pro-war pro-bush moral conservatives.

  30. Hal9000
    July 28th, 2005 at 10:20 | #30

    I take it all those passionate anti-terrorist absolutists were out in the streets howling in protest when the old terrorists Begin (King David Hotel bombing) and Shamir (Deir Yassin massacre) got to be leaders of the self-proclaimed ‘only democracy in the middle east’. No? Oh, dear. Terrorism is a politico-military tactic, not an ideology.

    If the point is that it’s wrong to kill civilians in pursuit of political and military goals, then fair enough. But then, I suppose to be consistent we’d need to focus more attention on the thousands being vaporised by aerial bombing than on the tens torn apart by suicide bombing. We might even wonder why it’s necessary for the US to maintain a huge nuclear arsenal and insist on the right of ‘first use’. As Mordechai Vanunu so accurately put it recently on ABC radio, nukes are a weapon of genocide.

  31. Andrew
    July 28th, 2005 at 12:30 | #31

    Hal – I don’t get it…. “passionate anti-terrorist absolutists”????? In the context of your post I take it that’s supposed to be an insult?
    How can any civilised person be anything other than passionately and absolutely anti-terrorist?

  32. Hal9000
    July 28th, 2005 at 13:37 | #32

    I was trying to make the point that absolute black-white distinctions don’t hold, unless we’re prepared to divide humanity into an ‘us’ and ‘them’ where ‘them’ is sub-human. The distinction in morality between dropping a 1-tonne bomb on a residential neighbourhood with certainty of mass killing of civilians in order to terrify the inhabitants into acquiescence with a political agenda and blowing oneself up on a train in order to achieve much the same ends is little more than sophistry. To get all passionate about one form of terrorising violence and acquiesce to the other is to exhibit hypocrisy.

    The other point I was making was that even within the ambit of ‘terrorism’ one sort of terrorist appears to be ok and others aren’t. The former Israeli premiers Begin and Shamir were leaders of terrorist organisations responsible for truly heinous assassinations, bombings and massacres. Ex-CIA agent Luis Posada’s extradition to Venezuela for the bombing of a civilian aircraft and the deaths of 78 people is at present being resisted by the same US government that proclaims itself leader of the Global War On Terror.

    This is by no means to deny that states must resist privatised violence of the sort seen recently in London. Of course such acts must be prevented and their perpetrators brought to justice. But in the scale of things, we in the west, and even we in the coalition of the willing, have little to fear from terrorists. On the scale of risks, being blown up or otherwise injured by terrorists is far less than the risk of death or injury from a motor vehicle accident. Probably about the same level as the risk of death from crocodile attack or lightning strike. As I recall it, the most recent death in Australia attributed to terrorists was the Turkish consul in Sydney some years back (and no-one was ever caught for it). Melburnians have a demonstrably higher risk of being shot in a gangland shootout than of being laid low by a terrorist while going about their business.

    So, in summary, my points are that the level of hysteria generated by terrorism in Australia is both silly in proportion to actual risk and hypocritical in its distinctions between ‘our’ terrorism and ‘their’ terrorism and between the values of ‘our’ lives as opposed to ‘theirs’.

  33. Hal9000
    July 28th, 2005 at 13:51 | #33

    BTW, there’s an excellent analysis of the history, motivations and strategy underlying jihadist terrorism by Max Rodenbeck in the current New York Review of Books at http://www.nybooks.com/articles/18177

  34. July 28th, 2005 at 16:27 | #34

    spot on Hal9000

  35. Andrew
    July 28th, 2005 at 17:36 | #35

    Hal,

    I abhor all forms of violence – in whatever way it is manifested. I haven’t followed the Posada case but if indeed he did bomb a civilian airliner he needs to be brought to justice. In the Israel/Palestine situation – both sides look as bad the other to me – extremists in action. Begin / Shamir / Arafat… all one and the same…. nasty pieces of work.

    I am amazed that you could draw a comparison between a terrorist attack and vehicle accidents, crocodile attacks or lightning strikes. This shows that you just clearly don’t get it. The last three are all accidents or acts of nature. If I get hit by the No.9 bus crossing the road – well very sad, but I should have looked. However, if I get blown up while sitting on the No.9 bus by some twisted individual with a bomb strapped to him – that’s another matter.
    The ‘hysteria’ here is due to the fact that civilised people just cannot fathom the evil that makes someone fly a fully loaded airplane into a building or blow themselves and a group of kids up in a car bomb. There is no rationalising this. There is no ‘history, motivations or strategy’ for this. It is just absolutely alien to the way any civilised brain should work. It is not limited to Islamic extremists – we have our own nutters in the west(e.g. Martin Bryant) – it is just that at this point in history islamic extremists seem to be over-represented in the terrorist ranks.
    All terrorism needs to be condemned.
    The thing that continually bugs me is that there is a minority group who continually refuses to unconditionally condemn the islamic terrorists because they feel it will provide succour to ‘the Bush/Blair electoral machine’ (whatever that means).
    For heaven sake – let’s for once leave politics out of this and just unconditionally condemn these evil bast&%ds…..

  36. stoptherubbish
    July 28th, 2005 at 17:38 | #36

    I agree Hal9000. But of course our bombs are democratic bombs, and theirs are nasty little, muslim, brown skinned, undemocratic ones. There’s a difference you know, and if you can’t see the difference it must mean that you agree that people should be blown up. I think I have got the logic right!!

  37. Andrew
    July 28th, 2005 at 18:22 | #37

    JohnS stated –
    “my own moral sensibilities have been so thoroughly frayed by the constant bombardment of world-wide neoimperial aggression that all these so-called “terroristâ€? attacks barely register on my poor old shockometer … so sorry if my lack of tact and compassion appalls those righteous pro-war pro-bush moral conservatives.”

    It’s hard to know where to begin with that one – at the end of day all I can do express my sorrow and pity that John has been so desensitised to violence….

    Why do you call them “‘so called’ terrorist attacks” – do you not believe that these were the work of terrorists? I hope you’re not one of the oddballs who claim this is all a US plot – you know, the one where the CIA flew the planes into the buildings so they would have an excuse to invade Iraq so that the US could get control of middle east oil supplies.

    By the way – I’m not pro-war, I dislike Bush intensely, yes I hope I’m moral (although I’m not religious) and I guess I’m probably conservative (but I’m not sure in what that tag really means).

  38. Iain
    July 28th, 2005 at 19:32 | #38

    I’d consider signing but they left off many of the real terrorist acts of modern times – rampant global capitalism that destroys natural resources and the environment, human induced climate change, indifference to poverty and social inequality, uranium mines, people who practice usury, GM food, advertising, fractional reserve banking, unlimited personal wealth, Andrew Bolt, intolerance of other cultures, fiat currencies, advertising.

    Stuffing up the world and causing misery is just not on.

  39. Hal9000
    July 28th, 2005 at 19:51 | #39

    Andrew, I’m not suggesting that lightning strikes etc involve some moral question, I’m just saying they’re an equivalent risk in terms of how we ought to live our lives. I’m reminded of the issue of shark nets – lots of resources, environmental damage etc to guard against an infinitesimal risk. It would be easy to demonstrate, although I must confess I don’t possess the economic modelling skills, that the resources put into shark nets would save more lives if put into any of a dozen more risky activities. The Global War On Terror (soon to be rebadged I read) is in the same vein – lots of resources, lots of collateral damage to freedoms, low actual risk.

  40. Ros
    July 28th, 2005 at 21:43 | #40

    As Andrew discusses there is a hell of a difference between being hit by a bus and blown to bits of unrecognisable flesh by an individual who hates you just because you are something different to them, and somehow illegitimately higher in some hierarchy than they. Or just being a woman of course is as good a reason as any.

    There is also a difference about how one feels about those who one identifies as ones own in some way and those who are strangers. The intelligentsia accepts this for young Muslim men but not it would seem for their fellow citizens. There is, note chaps, a growing sense in Australia amongst other nations, that if they don’t like us, don’t respect our values and laws then they can go back to where they are top dogs. Unfortunately it would seem the message they are getting is, your angry and selfish demands deserve respect, at least from some Australians with western values, even though these young men would kill them given the chance. So be it.

    But there are some thoughts worth considering as one contemplates such as this,
    “real terrorist acts of modern times – rampant global capitalism that destroys natural resources and the environment, human induced climate change, indifference to poverty and social inequality, uranium mines, people who practice usury, GM food, advertising, fractional reserve banking, unlimited personal wealth, Andrew Bolt, intolerance of other cultures, fiat currencies, advertising.” Stuffing up the world and causing misery is just not on.â€?

    Extreme view but is of value as it makes very clear what the gap is between views expressed in venues such as this one and the general Australian population. And as the bombing continues so is the gap ever widening.

    If it is OK for the values and beliefs of the majority to be viewed as wrong then it is OK in my view to dismiss the views of those who see themselves as morally correct global citizens accepting on our behalf the validity of the claims against us and apologising for us.

    And the petition may as well be signed as the reasons not to make arguing about how many angels can fit on the head of a pin as useful a daily debate as any

    That Omar is a signatory is sufficient for me.

    I have shared with my daughter the pertinent fact that she should be more frightened of British policeman than tube bombers. That indeed the recent act of these police may be the nail in the coffin of human rights and civilisation as we know it. She thought she would stick with worrying about nasty shits trying to blow her up. Not that taken with the theory actually. She will share it with her friends who travel on the tube and get back to me.

  41. Nabakov
    July 29th, 2005 at 01:09 | #41

    “And the petition may as well be signed as the reasons not to make arguing about how many angels can fit on the head of a pin as useful a daily debate as any”

    Well I’m convinced now. But about what, I don’t know.

  42. Ros
    July 29th, 2005 at 08:34 | #42

    Sorry Nabakov, the arguments put up for not lowering ones standards and signing, c….. Perhaps a whiff of desperation about them.

    Omar for one made it clear that his signature wasn’t available as a blank cheque. But what is Omar to the Australian righteous.

    Made the mistake of checking out the drafters and so via their irritation at JQ ended up at CT. Regret it very much. Starting to feel like I am going mad. We, of the unscrubbed of Australia, and our intellectuals do inhabit the same universe don’t we?

    For those taken with the police are more dangerous than bombers, there is a new and improved version heard by me within a University. So maybe the rest of you won’t be reading it first here. This one goes, the police needed a kill so forth they sallied to find a swarthy person and kill him.
    This is for me a further negation of the idea that Universities are about reason, but I am made happy by the thought that his ears are with luck still ringing.

  43. douglas
    July 29th, 2005 at 21:12 | #43

    Dave,

    Mr Quiggin was being asked to sign a statement against a specific horror. It is actually unsurprising that that horror was being spelled out. It is also unsurprising that other folk might have different motives for signing it. If intellectualism consists of finding reasons not to sign an anti-terrorist statement, then the problem is with the intellectuals and not the statement. IMVHO.

    douglas

  44. dave
    July 30th, 2005 at 19:01 | #44

    So, with

    If intellectualism consists of finding reasons not to sign an anti-terrorist statement, then the problem is with the intellectuals and not the statement,

    we’re back to JQ (and his fellow intellectuals) being objectively pro-terrorist, then?

    I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree. Personally, I prefer Jack’s interpretation: finely honed b.s. detectors. Cheers.

  45. douglas
    July 31st, 2005 at 11:25 | #45

    dave,

    No. Finely honed B.S. detectors means paralysis. We agree to disagree.

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