Daily reading: the Manchester attacks and ISIS

Well here’s a surprise: The Independent, a Leftist newspaper, has managed to transcend the hypocrisy of sites like the Guardian to publish the following op-ed piece (click on the screenshot to read). Sadly, the Independent ceased on-paper publication in March of last year, and is now found only online. I used to read it when I lived in the UK.

A quote from author Patrick Cockburn, who’s speaking of Wahhabi Islam:

This approach of not blaming Muslims in general but targeting “radicalisation” or simply “evil” may appear sensible and moderate, but in practice it makes the motivation of the killers in Manchester or the Bataclan theatre in Paris in 2015 appear vaguer and less identifiable than it really is. Such generalities have the unfortunate effect of preventing people pointing an accusing finger at the variant of Islam which certainly is responsible for preparing the soil for the beliefs and actions likely to have inspired the suicide bomber Salman Abedi.

. . . The real causes of “radicalisation” have long been known, but the government, the BBC and others seldom if ever refer to it because they do not want to offend the Saudis or be accused of anti-Islamic bias. It is much easier to say, piously but quite inaccurately, that Isis and al-Qaeda and their murderous foot soldiers “have nothing to do with Islam”. This has been the track record of US and UK governments since 9/11. They will look in any direction except Saudi Arabia when seeking the causes of terrorism. President Trump has been justly denounced and derided in the US for last Sunday accusing Iran and, in effect, the Shia community of responsibility for the wave of terrorism that has engulfed the region when it ultimately emanates from one small but immensely influential Sunni sect. One of the great cultural changes in the world over the last 50 years is the way in which Wahhabism, once an isolated splinter group, has become an increasingly dominant influence over mainstream Sunni Islam, thanks to Saudi financial support.

. . . The culpability of Western governments for terrorist attacks on their own citizens is glaring but is seldom even referred to. Leaders want to have a political and commercial alliance with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf oil states. They have never held them to account for supporting a repressive and sectarian ideology which is likely to have inspired Salman Abedi.


And, mirabile dictu, the Guardian—the HuffPo of England—has published an article by Nick Cohen, whose voice we desperately need in these tumultuous days. His article: “After Manchester, our values will only prevail if we speak up for them.” (I’ll ignore the misplaced word “only”, which belongs after rather than before “prevail”, and assume it’s the work of a copywriter.) What bothered me a bit about the British reaction to the Manchester bombings—which in the main was an admirable display of courage, stoicism, and empathy—was the incessant mantra of: “We must go on just as before or the terrorists will win.” Well, no, no Western country can go on as before—not unless we want more innocent civilians blown to bits. I don’t know what the solution is, but it doesn’t seem to be taking off your shoes in airports or avoiding crowds. We’re facing a new age now, and an enemy willing to die to kill the rest of us, assured by their faith that they’ll gain Paradise.  An enemy that doesn’t mind dying for his cause, indeed wants to die for his cause, is the most dangerous enemy of all. Our tactics and behaviors must somehow change.

And that is, in part, what Nick Cohen wrote about. A few excerpts:

But warm words about “our way of life prevailing” rub up against scratchy questions about what our “life” is now and which way it is taking. Talk to anti-Islamist Muslim writers and activists and they are worried. They don’t see “diversity” and “community”, those warmest of 21st century words, as synonyms but opposites. No one knows the level of Islamic State support in Britain, they say, but with MI5 monitoring 3,000 suspects it isn’t negligible. Beyond the violent and potentially violent lie fractured and isolated ghettos, where large numbers are prey to religious demagogues.

. . . I don’t wish to sound alarmist. There is no conveyor belt that picks up believers in reactionary religion and transports them to religious violence. You can spend your life believing women should be second-class citizens and homosexuality and apostasy are crimes that in an ideal Islamic state deserve the death sentence and never harm anyone apart from your wife and children. Equally, desegregating the school system is a modest reform, not a panacea. As for the silence of mainstream conservatives, I am sure that if Theresa May is re-elected she will not call for a Muslim travel ban.

But if you believe ideas have power, then you must believe in the power of bad ideas to harm when they are left uncontested. Liberal Muslims suffer from the widespread belief that to be “liberal is a contradiction of the faith”, as Rabbil Sikdar put it. With honourable exceptions, white liberals prefer the safe life and hold that it is “Islamophobic” to help their cause and argue their case. Liberal conservatives say nothing because they fear their party leadership won’t support them and know the rightwing press will denounce them. They too cede the field without striking a blow.

“Our values will prevail,” says Theresa May. No they won’t. Not if no one is prepared to say what they are, let alone prepared to fight for them


Finally. we have Maajid Nawaz on the radio station “Leading Britain’s Conversation”. His six-minute video is described in this way:

Leading figures from the Didsbury Mosque have spoken out against Isis, and condemned member Salman Ramadan Abedi – the 22-year-old responsible for the Manchester bombing.

In a strongly worded statement, Didsbury mosque and Manchester Islamic Centre called the terrorist attack an act of cowardice, adding that it has worked peacefully at the heart of the community for more than 50 years.

But Maajid Nawaz is not impressed.

In this clip he explains how the Mosque will have to do a lot more to gain his respect, given their track record.

Click on the screenshot to view the video, and remember that Nawaz, who fights incessantly against radical and extremist Islamism, has been labeled an “Anti-Muslim Extremist” by the increasingly ridiculous Southern Poverty Law Center.  Do his words make him seem “anti-Muslim”? I don’t think so: he’s asking for his own faith to be enlightened and liberalized. He and the SPLC are on the same side!

How can Progressives possibly have any objection to these views?

h/t: Simon, Grania


  1. Posted May 27, 2017 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    One of the benefits of Trump costyng up to the Saudis is that the liberal press might focus more attention on them – if only to use them as a stick to beat Trump with.

    It has been nauseating this week to see Trump criticised for expressing an admiration for the Saudis that was apparently fine when that admiration was expressed by the leader of the Women’s March.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted May 27, 2017 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

      There are those of us on the left who deplore both (Trump & Sarsour). Strikes me as the only principled position for a progressive to take.

  2. Posted May 27, 2017 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    If Trump was half the troll people think he is he would have introduced ten weeks’ maternity leave for all women and thanked the Saudi king for his inspiration.

    Then his wife and daughter could have appeared beside him wearing the hijab.

    • Posted May 27, 2017 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

      May I cast my vote for the niqab for Melania?

  3. Tom
    Posted May 27, 2017 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    I have often wondered why the Ulama have not foreseen the danger the Wahhabi doctrine has placed the whole Islamic world.
    These men were born in the 21st century not the 7th. They know that Infidels can strike from afar devastating whole countries and the Saudi oil shield is rapidly crumbling.
    Surely it is time that previously “lost” Suras (and some were lost) were revealed by dedicated and pious scholars somewhat more in tune with the modern world.

    • Tom
      Posted May 27, 2017 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

      Sorry 20th century (more gin please)

    • Posted May 28, 2017 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

      But they also know that the Infidels will not strike, and after every carnage will say how beautiful the True Religion is, and will invite more of its followers and appease every whim of theirs.

    • Posted May 29, 2017 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

      Unfortunately, one place which may well have new suras is Yemen, where early Korans have been found with different texts. Guess who SA is attacking, with Canadian and US support?

      Coincidence? Yes, somewhat, but it is still unfortunate (also much more so to the people of Yemen, needless to say).

  4. Ken Kukec
    Posted May 27, 2017 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    (I’ll ignore the misplaced word “only”, which belongs after rather than before “prevail”, and assume it’s the work of a copywriter.)

    (I can only say thanks for tilting at the tide of misplaced modifiers.) 🙂

  5. Randy schenck
    Posted May 27, 2017 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    As Clausewitz said long ago – know your enemy. Before you fight, before you go to war you must know your enemy. I very much feel for Nawaz, because he tries so hard and makes so much sense. Maybe if there were a million more just like him.

  6. Posted May 27, 2017 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    Progressivism has apparently undergone a splintering much as the Sunni sect has.

  7. Ken Kukec
    Posted May 27, 2017 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    “We must go on just as before or the terrorists will win.”

    I suspect that sentiment contains a bit of homage to the Israelis, who are famous for cleaning up after an attack and returning (as best they can) to a sense of normalcy.

    • Randy schenck
      Posted May 27, 2017 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

      Britain went on to defeat the Nazis because they won the Battle of Britain… Not by carrying on as before.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted May 27, 2017 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

        Right. But during The Blitz, they, too, would clean up and get back to business-as-usual as quickly as possible — a reflection of what Churchill called “the fire kindled in British hearts.”

        All part of keeping that famous stiff upper lip, old boy.

        • Randy schenck
          Posted May 27, 2017 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

          Cheerio and carry on, as they say.

          • Heather Hastie
            Posted May 27, 2017 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

            Keep calm and carry on.

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted May 27, 2017 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

              Don’t get mad, get even — as a certain former American ambassador to the court of St. James used to say.

              • Heather Hastie
                Posted May 27, 2017 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

                I was taught that one as a toddler by my mother. 🙂

            • somer
              Posted May 27, 2017 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

              I hate “keep calm and carry on” Its just me but it reminds me of Jane Austen as a supposed role model. Accept accept domestic domestic nice nice orthodoxy orthodoxy.

              • Heather Hastie
                Posted May 27, 2017 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

                Yeah, it does depend on context a lot, and in that particular one I don’t like it either.

              • Posted May 28, 2017 at 4:26 am | Permalink

                All of Austen’s novels are explorations of how women free themselves from the British legal equivalent of family sharia, Somer and Heather. Charlotte Bronte had harsh words about Austen: I think the scones-and-high-tea-Women’s-Institute types who similarly chocolate box her miss the mark.

            • somer
              Posted May 28, 2017 at 12:17 am | Permalink

              Agree 😀

          • jay
            Posted May 28, 2017 at 10:11 am | Permalink

            Or fight back with candles and Teddy bears

        • Posted May 27, 2017 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

          Part of the reason Brits were able to clean up and carry on was the belief that some day the war would be over.

          If Churchill had said ‘better get used to it, it’s just part of living in the modern world’ or ‘this is nothing to do with Nazism’ he’d have been lynched.

          • Posted May 27, 2017 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

            In contrast to the sub-Lady Di compassion rallies which the Brits seem to have become expert at, I read a couple of days ago from Dan Snow, the historian, that a WWII fighter pilot described the Nazi invasion of France as ‘upsetting’. Now that’s stiff upper lip (which I believe is an American coining from the first half of the nineteenth century). I love ‘1984’ but that in itself almost forms a refutation of the theory behind Newspeak, the reduction of language curtailing thought and therefore action.

            You have to find your humour where you can in these bleak days. Even the mawkish singalong in the vigils has degenerated from the ghoulish pianist who turns up across Europe with his rendition of ‘Imagine’. At least it has the line ‘Imagine no religion…’ Manchester came up with ‘Don’t look back in anger’ by Oasis, the Beatles tribute band. It’s difficult to think of a more inhuman and inappropriate reaction to an atrocity.

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted May 27, 2017 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

              “… Oasis, the Beatles tribute band.”

              Really stickin’ the needle to those Gallagher lads, ain’tcha? 🙂

              • Posted May 27, 2017 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

                They’re OK, Ken, just feeling tetchy. Mind you I did see them at Knebworth, 1997 was it? 125,000 there. The Bootleg Beatles played and they were actually great: they played ‘Day in the Life’ with full orchestra and ‘orgasm’ crescendo. The Fabs never managed that. Oasis came on and every single person knew every single line, and tone-deaf or not, they all sang along. Couldn’t hear a chuffin’ note from the band. It was then that I realized that pop had died: it was karaoke on ketamine.

                Simon Cowell came along a few years later, realizing that all people wanted was a good old knees-up, a recognisable tune and the opportunity to congratulate each other on their shared wonderful taste. See Hitchens’ documentary on the frightening happy-sad-Fascism Princess Di obsequies in the week between her death and funeral.

                There is something sickening and sinister about mass displays of empathy and compassion for people you don’t know. But then I suppose better that about victims of attentats than the human clothes horse’s death from which we get the template for mewling and obligatory public grief, in which how one feels is privileged over what one thinks. Rant over and out.

              • Ken Kukec
                Posted May 27, 2017 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

                “karaoke on ketamine” — I am so-o stealing that. 🙂

              • Posted May 27, 2017 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

                Is your appreciation of the phrase ‘karaoke on ketamine’ reflective of the delightful plosives in your name, Ken Kukec?

                How do you pronounce the ‘-ec’ bit? ‘Etz’, ‘ek’ or ‘ech’? Sounds and looks Hungarian to me.

                I studied Teaching EFL in Budapest in 1990. The Hungarians were lovely and humorously ironic about their own language. “We sound like goats. Ek-ek-ek all the time,” one used to say.

              • Ken Kukec
                Posted May 27, 2017 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

                With a hard “c” sound (“kek”) — although my grandparents, who came to the US from Slovenia after WW1, continued to pronounce it with the soft “its” sound from the land or their birth. Some Slovenian-Americans with the “ic” or “ec” name-ending changed the spelling to preserve that pronunciation; others, like my father, gave up and went with the American pronunciation (while he was in the Navy during WW2, is the way I heard the story).

                I figure I got off easy; many of my lundsmen have more syllables in their surnames (some of which suffer a dearth of vowels).

          • aljones909
            Posted May 27, 2017 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

            Since Churchill has been mentioned. He wrote
            this in 1899. It suggests the problem is not just the recent advance of Wahhabiism. : “The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men.

            Individual Muslims may show splendid qualities, but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome.”

            • Heather Hastie
              Posted May 27, 2017 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

              You’re right, but it is the Wahhabis who do the death cult stuff. The House of Saud entered into an agreement with the sect that enabled them to rule the kingdom and the Wahhabis to do law etc. Once they got rich via oil, the Wahhabis spread their religion via madrases. It is from these madrases that those who kill in the name of Islam have emerged in recent decades.

            • somer
              Posted May 28, 2017 at 5:46 am | Permalink

              In Arab Islamic cultures – its shameful for a man to even mention his mother’s name as women are associated with inferiority and shame. He might be called by his mothers’s name as a huge insult to his manhood and be obliged to fight. Here it is

              Give mom back her name #Give mom back her name #MyMotherNameIs
              [delete this which prevents embedding]

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted May 27, 2017 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

            I never meant to suggest otherwise. Far be it from me ever to dispute that this was their finest hour. 🙂

          • somer
            Posted May 27, 2017 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

            Some level of nationalism is necessary to big society’s survival= unless it is to become another peoples with another culture. The regressive left has Inverted nationalism.

    • Posted May 28, 2017 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

      But the Israelis take the well-being of their population as priority.

  8. rickflick
    Posted May 27, 2017 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    Sorry to be pessimistic, but I suspect the Wahhabis and their military tentacles will only subside when the Saudis run out of money. Quick! Alt-energy please!

    • nicky
      Posted May 27, 2017 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

      Solar rooftiles, powerwalls, electric cars…, will Elon Musk save us from Wahabism?

  9. Ken Kukec
    Posted May 27, 2017 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    From Nick Cohen’s linked article in The Guardian:

    “…the Conservatives have no plans to slow the growth of faith-based schools, which segregate children by religion and, more often that not, race. The cause of secular education, like support for the single market and opposition to anti-Muslim bigotry, is an idea whose time appears to have gone on the right.”

    That’s the same direction that Trump’s Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, and others of her far-right ilk, are trying to take schools in this country.

  10. Posted May 28, 2017 at 12:30 am | Permalink


  11. zytigon
    Posted May 28, 2017 at 1:53 am | Permalink

    The prophet Mohammed never authorised the use of guns and explosives or any other infidel inventions. True Islam must limit itself to Halal knives and stones.

    Maybe more could be made of the fact that the authors of the Koran never foresaw any of the inventions which terrorists make use of.

    • Posted May 28, 2017 at 9:42 am | Permalink

      I wouldn’t bet on it. I’ve seen Christian apologists brag that the bible foretold lots of things it clearly didn’t. Scripture can be twisted many ways.

      • Posted May 29, 2017 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

        Or recall the correct tradition of the Inuit – my Inuk friend was asked about why “traditional hunters” use rifles. And the answer, which I think is correct: “The tradition is *not* ‘use harpoons and spears’, but *use the best available weapon*.

  12. Posted May 28, 2017 at 4:50 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  13. Colin McLachlan
    Posted May 28, 2017 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Have a listen to the latest rant from Jonathan Pie.

  14. Posted May 28, 2017 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    What bothered me a bit about the British reaction to the Manchester bombings—which in the main was an admirable display of courage, stoicism, and empathy—was the incessant mantra of: “We must go on just as before or the terrorists will win.”

    I think the sentiment is being slightly mischaracterised on this thread. Nobody here is saying we must do nothing about the terrorists, what is meant is that all the things you would have done before the Manchester bomb, you should still do. The bomber thought that it was wrong for people to go out enjoying themselves at music concerts – specifically, he thought it was wrong for teenage girls to do this. If we stop going to concerts, he has won, so I say no and stick two fingers up at him. I’ve already had a chance to demonstrate my answer, I went to see John Cale play The Velvet Underground and Nico on Friday.

    As it happens, Britain is already doing a lot to stop the immediate cause of the violence. In spite of the two recent attacks, I think we’ve been pretty successful. We shouldn’t panic, we should learn from the failures, improve our anti-terrorism measures and carry on. We should not drive Muslims into the sea or create a police state (that second ship may have sailed, unfortunately).

    Where we are failing is in addressing the root causes. Nobody seems to want to say what the motivation for blowing up teenage girls is. We all know the bomber’s warped religious beliefs provided the motivation, but we have trouble putting a name to it (see, even I skirted around the word “Islam” there). But I don’t think it comes down to ideology, I think we are just a bit nervous about what comes next after we point the finger at Islam. What we think comes next is that Muslims who are completely innocent in relation to this crime become the subject of violent racist attacks from some of our more unpleasant right wingers.

    • BJ
      Posted May 29, 2017 at 8:13 am | Permalink

      “I think the sentiment is being slightly mischaracterised on this thread. Nobody here is saying we must do nothing about the terrorists…”

      Not only that, but this is a common English attitude since WWII. When the bombings of London were becoming near-daily occurrences, their mantra was, “Keep calm and carry on.” Thay take pride in this.

      “What we think comes next is that Muslims who are completely innocent in relation to this crime become the subject of violent racist attacks from some of our more unpleasant right wingers.”

      Di we have statistical evidence of this? Seems to me these attacks became more common with the refugee crisis and rise of ISIS propaganda. Most people who suffer racism don’t lash out by killing dozens, so I don’t think that’s the “root cause.”

      • Posted May 31, 2017 at 6:17 am | Permalink

        Di we have statistical evidence of this?

        We don’t have evidence that attacks will increase but, rightly or wrongly, it is a common perception that overtly blaming Islam for this will cause an uptick in racist incidents.

  15. Mike
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    It will carry on until Western Government, the US and the UK in particular stop pandering to the Gov of Suadi Arabia simply because they sit on OIL.

    • Mike
      Posted May 29, 2017 at 8:32 am | Permalink

      Saudi Arabia.

    • BJ
      Posted May 29, 2017 at 9:11 am | Permalink

      At this point, I don’t think the oil plays into it much. Most of our production is done here at home, and if Saudi Arab Arabia stopped giving oil, we’d be ok. I think it’s more a strategic partnership: like Jordan, but less progressive, they are one of the most stable governments in the ME. Furthermore, they can provide extremely valuable intel and a stabilizing force. The partnership is far more strategic than anything else. IF it was just oil, we’d be friends with many, many more countries.

  16. Posted June 27, 2017 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    When crude religious fundamentalist beliefs are taken seriously we must expect trouble in a modern free secular society. Only time will cure the disease and the cure will come from within. Already we can see signs of those Muslims who want reform and the Muslim faith will be dragged into the same modernisation that Christianity is already well on its way though. Fundamental systems like that in North Korea and China cannot last for people will shake off the yoke of control in time.
    Quick solutions like removing all Muslims from the nation or erasing all Mosques are no answer, but we must insist that all citizens without exception obey the secular laws of the nation. Multiculturalism can only work to a limited degree no man can obey two master’s. Pakistan was formed because Muslims and Hindus could not live together as envisaged by Gandhi. Faiths must become diluted and innocuous just as skin colour. We know a black man has the same organs , the same blood groups , the same good and bad habits as a white man .

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