The excusers are out in force, confusing the obvious truth that no one wants war, or death or killing, with the need to excuse terrorists, blame ourselves or just quite simply rearrange the facts to suit an ostrich mentality which prefers to live in a happy bubble - or a self-deprecating one at least.
|Image courtesy of Melbourne Streets Avant-garde via Flickr|
A country with a conscience has two choices. Sit and watch on the sidelines, opting out of the present, or capitalise on that conscience to improve the future for all.
Unfortunately, as I wrote in January following the Charlie Hebdo attacks, the dumbing down of information is leading to an overly simplistic world view for many, with the harsh realities in today's world blurred around the edges for mass media. This lends a degree of softening, making brutal facts seem distant and unreal, suggesting they can be ignored as we choose. But denying that ISIS jihadists are not a religious group is the same ostrich response the Republicans give in America when there is another mass shooting. It IS a religious issue, and precisely due to the nature of their religious convictions talking is never going to work. To these terrorists the fight is everything to do with religion, it is the culmination of their literal interpretation of the Quran. And like the Bible, the Quran is prone to contradictions and there is plenty to support their jihad.
The same extremists can be found in any major religion, but the main difference with some of the Islamic faith is that their "normal" verges on many people's "extreme". It is simply not acceptable in the 21st Century to stone people to death for speaking out, whip them for having a drink, mask women, enforce their servitude and remove their human rights. That's the thin end of the wedge which is the base these extremist groups have grown from. Men whose arrogant delusional supremacy is born from a society that doesn't respect its women and still chooses to apply a Law that belongs in the years before civilisation. And what do we do? Sanction these archaic traditions by permitting, encouraging and turning a blind eye.
Look at Saudi Arabia. A country which by rights, should not be afforded the hand of friendship by the West, and should never have been elected to the UN Council for Human Rights. Freedom House's Center for Religious Freedom released a report analyzing a set of Saudi Ministry of Education textbooks in use during the current academic year in Islamic studies courses for elementary and secondary students. The textbooks promote an ideology of hatred toward people, including Muslims, who do not subscribe to the Wahhabi sect of Islam. But our thirst for oil has diluted our response to such extremism, and thus the boundaries of acceptability are pushed outwards. This is explained well in Adam Curtis' BBC film Bitter Lake.
So we should bear some responsibility for the present situation, but with that comes a responsibility to safeguard the future. Not just for the West, but for the many Christians, Muslims, Jews, Atheists and HUMANS who are dying daily at the hands of this group. And because these terrorists fight and die in the name of their God we must recognise the religious nature of their fight or we cannot respond appropriately. Just like guns kill people unless carefully regulated, extreme beliefs kill people too- neither goes away because we pretend they don't exist.
And not only are many people refusing to face the reality that is the extreme religion of ISIS, the apologists are lining up to take the blame. Jeremy Corbyn even stated today that Al Quaeda did not exist until the USA began their war on terror in 2003. Apart from wondering whom he thinks was responsible for the 9/11 attacks over a year earlier, I wonder at the thinking behind such a comment. You see, taking the blame for something so complex not only elevates the blame taker to an unrealistic level of importance, but it suggests the perpetrators were puppets at the hands of our mistakes. It fails to accept responsibility and neatly sidelines the issues for another day.
Accepting responsibility for the past should never preclude taking responsibility for the future. Any shame we have about the not-so-great parts of Great Britain should inspire optimism and change and drive us towards building a better future, not turn us into doormats whilst other nations have a go at getting it wrong. Sure, we made mistakes - we are human after all, and to deny our humanity would deliver up the future to those who have no conscience, no sense of responsibility and no qualms about self interest above all.
World Politics is about team work today, and Britain should be proud to be IN that team, not apologising on the sidelines. No nation should lose its sense of self, but instead take pride in its improved outlook having learned from mistakes in the past. A blanket rejection of all aggressive means to keep people safe is, in fact, the ultimate expression of selfishness, a delusion of grandeur that is simply breathtaking. It is a failure to embrace other humans as equally precious and support their protection because you wish to put your own safety, and your ideals before humanity.
Without History, there is no Future. There is only the chaos of Today. Let's learn from the past, not spend an eternity apologising for it.