The Bomb on the Bus

I want to write about “the latest terrorist attack in England,” but of course by the time this blog post goes to press there may have been another one or two of them, so it’s probably necessary to be specific. After Saturday’s massacre at London Bridge, the Washington Post decided to address the real problem at hand: 

In the early confusion of Saturday’s attack in London, as police urged people not to spread rumors, those world leaders who did speak out early were largely circumspect. Restrained. Sympathetic.

“My thoughts go out to the victims and their loved ones,” French President Emmanuel Macron said on Twitter. “Awful news,” wrote Canadian Prime Minster Justin Trudeau the same evening, adding, “We’re monitoring the situation.”

And then there was President Trump.

Before London police or anyone else had announced that the attack was linked to terrorism — the president of the United States retweeted an unsourced blurb from “Fears of new terror attack after van ‘mows down 20 people’ on London Bridge.”

London authorities at that point had confirmed only a few details. Shortly after the Drudge tweet, British police again warned against spreading unconfirmed information.

It is a deeply, almost profoundly rich irony that the Post—which has spent the last few months helping perpetrate several dozen industrial-sized fake news events—is now so suddenly, breathlessly concerned about “spreading rumors” and “unconfirmed information.” Gee, what’s different this time around? What is the distinction between an anonymously-sourced, wholly unconfirmed (and eventually on-the-record denied) story about James Comey’s resource request on the one hand, and yet another European truck / knife murder spree on the other? Can you spot the difference? Why would the Post run with the one yet exercise breathless forbearance with the other?

A couple of weeks ago I wrote that Western civilization frequently displays a queer kind of deference towards Islam, and in no area is this clearer than that of terrorism. Several days after the Manchester Islamist terrorist attack but a few days before the London Bridges Islamist terrorist attack, Medhi Hasan wrote that “white far-right terrorists” are in fact the more dangerous terrorists, at least in the United States, because, “Since September 12, 2001, the number of fatalities caused by domestic violent extremists has ranged from 1 to 49 in a given year. … Fatalities resulting from attacks by far-right wing violent extremists have exceeded those caused by radical Islamist violent extremists in 10 of the 15 years, and were the same in 3 of the years since September 12, 2001.” But, as Hasan concedes, Islamists have actually racked up a higher body count overall during the same time period—and if you move the data window back a single day, the Islamists are ahead by about 3,000 bodies, which strikes me as—I don’t know—a bit of a scale-tipper, call me crazy. (Most deferential arguments regarding Islamic terrorism tend to strategically clock their terrorism statistics starting at 12:01 AM on September 12th, 2001.)

You do not see the same rhetorical pathology arise in the cases of, say, American mass shootings: every time some lunatic shoots up a mall or a school or a disarmed Army base, there arises a fresh series of demands to scrap the Second Amendment, confiscate all American firearms Australia-style, and finally castrate the American citizenry of their sick fetish with guns. For good measure progressives will often throw in a strident “You’re-more-likely-to-be-killed-by-a-mass-shooter-than-a-Muslim-terrorist-excluding-Sepetember-Eleventh-of-course.” Leaving aside the fact that guns in America are a constitutional right and thus a bit of a difficult ban to wrangle, the comparison neglects the practical difference between guns and Islam: the one is an inert tool, while the other is a fungible ideology the demographic implications of which are much more concerning. Put another way: a Pew report a number of years ago found that, in France, well over a third of Muslims believe that “suicide bombing of civilian targets to defend Islam” can be justified at least some of the time. In other words, within the largest religious minority in France, over thirty percent have at least some genuine sympathy with terrorists. Might that not be cause for concern? By comparison, do you think you could scare up a third of all United States gun owners who believe that psychopathic mass shootings are ever justified? Hell, do you think you could scare up a tenth, or a twentieth, or a fiftieth?

The deep stupidity will continue: there will be another massacre, another bomb, another truck, another knife, another Allahu Akbar—and quickly thereafter we will see the same old bizarre and irrelevant excuses trotted out: you’re more likely to die from a homicidal rapist great white shark than you are a Muslim terrorist, the terrorists aren’t actually Muslim, all religions are crazy, the Crusades were bad, too. It is a weird experience to witness a civilization trip all over itself attempting to explain away the people who wish to destroy it.  I am not sure what drives this impulse—though the impulses of the murderers at London Bridge two days ago are very clear indeed, and it is a wonder that we are so quick and so eager to deny it.


  1. David

    While you may decry the relative caution with which some media outlets treat incidents of violence perpetuated by Islamic radicals the justification of it is more substantial than you allow. Anyone familiar with the writings of the great futurists, Alvin & Heidi Toffler (including prominent political leaders as disparate as Newt Gingrich & Al Gore ) could have seen these types of events as completely predictable if not to be expected. It isn’t due to any inherent characteristic of Islam but just due to the effects of socio-political change. I have commented previously here about tribalism as being more of a driving factor than is religion in fostering various forms of retrograde behaviors.

    The basis for caution in reporting such incidents isn’t only to “placate” the more moderate adherents of Islam. There is much more justification for caution in order to avoid feeding the ”radicals” in the Christian community who, like the Islamic radicals, are so anxious to see Armageddon that they feel obliged to try & speed things along. God may have it in mind to bring an end to our civilization but I am content to allow God to choose the timing rather than to try to encourage humanity to speed up the end. Who knows? We may get it wrong & then where would that leave us?

    • Daniel Payne

      I didn’t “decry” the circumspection of media outlets. I’m fine with it. I just wish they exercised it all the time, and not just when an Islamist blows something up.

      • David

        Agreed but I’m afraid those days are long gone. Between the instantaneous demand from readers for information on the latest “item of interest” (which has all too often been the latest news from the Kardashians or Miley’s latest twerk) & the apparent abandonment on the part of the major media outlets of trying to be objective & temper their biases it has become just a matter of who’s pretending the hardest to be “the adult in the room.”

  2. Adriana Mandon

    Some facts, Muslims conquered Spain , invaded and stayed in Spain for 800 years, until one of the most intelligent and brave queen in history, Isabel the Catholic rooted them out.
    The modern western civilization doesn’t understand the enemy, whatever name you want to call them, it doesn’t matter. My theory, a secular world cannot understand what there’s in the minds of the perpetrators and their motivations, when actually are very simple, and because they tell us their motivation clearly_”conquer the world, unifies it under allah, kill the infidels if they don’t convert”_ now, David, where are the fanatics Christians radicals? I don’t see them, I hope they come up soon of their shells and”hidden places”. True is Christians have been killed all over the world and nobody had raised one finger, including Pope Francis.

    • David

      Adriana, After you wrote 800 years the rest of what you wrote is opinion at best. I provided a link to one example of a Christian leader who is anxious for the world to end. You paint all Muslims with the most radical statements in the Koran regarding non-believers. How about Deuteronomy 13 or 17 or Numbers 31? Do those Bible verses reflect your understanding of what is required of you as a Christian? Most people have enough sense to not take every word in their holy books as literal truth. They understand that the human mind subjects words to interpretation.

      Queen Isabella may not be the best example of enlightened leadership unless you were a big fan of Torquemada. The Moorish kingdoms of Spain were among the most enlightened rulers of Europe at a time when people were regularly being burned alive for not following Catholic orthodoxy. The European age of enlightenment was in many respects initiated from the Greek & Roman writings that were preserved by the Muslims and obtained by the Crusaders. The great Jewish philosopher Maimonides became Saladin’s personal doctor & rejected Richard III’s request to come to England because his life was much better in Egypt.

      It is also worth noting that the Spanish rule in the New World oversaw one of the most violent, bloody & cruel empires in modern history. Slavery was widespread & they essentially raped both the land & the people.

      While the various Islamic rulers of the time varied in their tolerance & leadership, in general during the period from about 900-1400 AD, life under the Islamic rulers was far superior for non-Muslims than was life in Europe for most anyone, let alone non-Catholics. There are very good reasons they were called the dark ages in Europe. I do however appreciate that the Pope finally pardoned Galileo in 1992 after 350 years of condemnation.