Anorak

Anorak | The five best responses to the Guardian and Glenn Greenwald’s excusing of the barbaric Woolwich murderers

The five best responses to the Guardian and Glenn Greenwald’s excusing of the barbaric Woolwich murderers

by | 25th, May 2013

GLENN Greenwald asks Guardian readers: “Was the London killing of a British soldier ‘terrorism’?”

We’ve argued that it wasn’t. It was two lunatics sacrificing a man to their god. But that is not Greenwald’s angle. He says:

What definition of the term includes this horrific act of violence but excludes the acts of the US, the UK and its allies?

Yep. He’s going for a moral equivalence.

Two men yesterday engaged in a horrific act of violence on the streets of London by using what appeared to be a meat cleaver to hack to death a British soldier. In the wake of claims that the assailants shouted “Allahu Akbar” during the killing, and a video showing one of the assailants citing Islam as well as a desire to avenge and stop continuous UK violence against Muslims, media outlets (including the Guardian) and British politicians instantly characterized the attack as “terrorism”.

[T]he term at this point seems to have no function other than propagandistically and legally legitimizing the violence of western states against Muslims while delegitimizing any and all violence done in return to those states …

 Can it really be the case that when western nations continuously kill Muslim civilians, that’s not “terrorism”, but when Muslims kill western soldiers, that is terrorism?…

One last point: in the wake of the Boston Marathon attacks, I documented that the perpetrators of virtually every recent attempted and successful “terrorist” attack against the west cited as their motive the continuous violence by western states against Muslim civilians.

Continuous. Unrelenting attacks on Muslims. Really?

Marc Goldberg:

I don’t agree with much of his article but he is right in that there is no definition of the word terrorism that is accepted around the world. The worn out adage that one man’s freedom fighter is another’s terrorist still applies, though actually not in Greenwald’s article. The murderers were never pretending to be fighting for freedom for anyone. They were making it quite clear that Lee Rigby was murdered as revenge for Muslim deaths in Muslim countries. There was no issue of freedom here at all. In fact thanks to the Daily Mail we now know that the Islam espoused by Michael Adebolajo one of the men suspected of murdering Rigby is the extremism of Al Muhajiroun where freedom is most certainly not an issue they are campaigning for

Andrew Sullivan responds:

I really have to try restrain my anger here. First off, Glenn’s adoption of the view that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan amounted to “continuous violence by western states against Muslim civilians” seems a new step toward the memes of Islamist propaganda. Does Glenn really believe that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, however flawed, were deliberate attempts to kill Muslim civilians, in the way al Qaeda deliberately targets and kills Muslim civilians?

If he does, then I beg to differ. The reason we invaded Afghanistan was not because we decided to launch a war on Islam. It was because wealthy, Islamist, hypocritical bigots launched an unprovoked Jihadist mass murder of Western innocents from a cell based in a country run by a regime that specialized and specializes in the mass murder of other Muslims.

Before 9/11, America had saved Muslims in the Balkans from Christianist fanatics. We helped liberate Muslims in Afghanistan from Soviet oppression. We continue to give vast amounts of money to Muslim countries like Egypt, and, because of our economic development and need for oil made multi-billionaires out of Saudi clerics. And the war against Saddam, though a criminal enterprise and strategic catastrophe, nonetheless removed one of the most vicious mass murderers of Muslims on the planet. And the sectarian murder of Muslims that followed, however the ultimate responsibility for the occupying forces, was not done by Westerners. It was done by Muslims killing Muslims. The West, moreover, is committed to removing its troops from Afghanistan by next year and is fast winding down drone strikes.

The men who murdered Lee Rigby did not do because we made them do it. They did it because they believe in same the kind of demented, bloodthirsty hatred the Taliban are into. The killer is not on the side of the Muslims in the fields or in the shops. He agrees with the nutjobs who say women should not be educated, that music should not be heard, and that all other human thought that is not in line with the voices in his head be outlawed on pain of death.

He is not a friend to Muslims. He sympathises with groups that would like to kill Shi’a Muslims. 

It wasn’t us that did it. It was them.

Norm Geras:

The pristine logic of Glenn Greenwald

Given the swamp of apologetics and obscurantism into which the Guardian newspaper has turned itself during the last decade, it may seem unfair to pick out one particular contributor to this ongoing journalistic enterprise as especially egregious… It has to be said nonetheless that the swamp has now acquired its own special low point, the name of which is Glenn Greenwald. When it was announced last summer that he’d be joining the Guardian I said I thought that Greenwald would fit right in there. And, my, but hasn’t he done that? No week passes without his letting us know, always most punctually, that however bad anyone else is we are the worst. The man is an almost bottomless pit of the genre.

I offer here a modest example of it, concentrating first on Greenwald’s standard of reasoning. In a later post, I may go on to focus on what is more murky than this, about his moral standpoint. The example of Greenwald’s logic comes from a week ago when he informed the readers of Comment is Free that Washington has now made it clear that its war on terror is permanent. Quoting officials from the Obama administration saying that the war might last another decade or more, Greenwald went on:

It is hard to resist the conclusion that this war has no purpose other than its own eternal perpetuation. This war is not a means to any end but rather is the end in itself. Not only is it the end itself, but it is also its own fuel: it is precisely this endless war – justified in the name of stopping the threat of terrorism – that is the single greatest cause of that threat.

I shall leave for a later occasion Greenwald’s claim that the war on terror is endless because it is itself what fuels the terrorist threat (‘incapable of ending, since the war itself ironically ensures that there will never come a time when people stop wanting to bring violence back to the US’) – this is the murkier thing I have already signalled as due for separate treatment. However, do just dwell for a moment on the reasoning that precedes it: because the war on terror looks like being a long one, it has no purpose other than its own perpetuation, is not a means to any other end – this even though Greenwald himself manages to rise to the thought that it is ‘justified in the name of stopping the threat of terrorism’ (my emphasis). To a person of greater intelligence it might have occurred at this point that the purpose of the war on terror is defeating the threat of jihadist terrorism, with which the world has been living for longer than it should. But Greenwald prefers not to think about that obvious possibility within the logical field, opting instead for the Orwellian resonances of war for its own sake.

Well, we’ll see. It is to be hoped – and I would certainly expect – the war on terror will one day be won. A movement with nothing to offer the world other than blowing people (Westerners or not) to pieces, eliminating music and such, may still do a lot of harm, but it can only incur the further contempt of humankind, at least that part of it not shaped in the Greenwald mould.

Howie’s Corner:

…we need to stand up against those who wish to destroy such freedoms. No one has a problem campaigning against the BNP or the EDL, so isn’t it time we also campaign against the Islamists, the Salafists and their ilk that spread a message of hate that is just as bad, if not worse, as they hijack a religion to do so?

Uncle Chris:

I am proud and privileged to have served in Helmand Province both as a soldier and latterly as a civilian. I have seen at close quarters the damage inflicted on Muslims by…yes, other Muslims. I have seen the results of poison attacks on girls for the crime of going to school and I have seen the corpes of those Muslims murdered by their fellow Muslims for the crime of taking part in development projects. I have also seen the armies of the United Kingdom, United States and others place themselves in incredible danger in order to save the lives of Muslims and I have seen life-saving medical care given to Muslims who not ten seconds earlier were trying to kill my comrades and I. I have seen the gratitude in the eyes of those Muslims whose villages had been liberated from the tyranny and cruelty of the rule of other Muslims. I have seen the exacting and exhaustive investigations into instances where our armies unintentionally killed or injured innocent people and I have seen cash handed over to those whose properties have been damaged by fighting. I have seen the apprehension and fear on the faces of these Muslims when they speak of what awaits them when the western forces leave them, potentally to the mercy of other Muslims.

I do not support all which we have done in Afghanistan and elsewhere, but, Glenn Greenewald, do not dare try to tell me that life would be better if we had never turned up. Do not dare tell me that western armies are worse behaved than the mysogynisitc murderers of the Taleban and al-Qaeda. Do not dare tell me that if only we stopped upsetting them, the extremists would somehow convert to social democracy. Do not dare.



Posted: 25th, May 2013 | In: Reviews Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink