Hitchens on London
I remember living in London through the Provisional IRA bombing in the 70s. I saw the very first car-bomb explode against the Old Bailey in 1972. There was no warning that time, but after a while a certain etiquette developed.
And, even as I detested the people who might have just as soon have blown me up as anyone else, I was aware there were ancient disputes involved, and that there was a potential political solution.
Nothing of the sort applies in this case. We know very well what the "grievances" of the jihadists are.
The grievance of seeing unveiled women. The grievance of the existence, not of the State of Israel, but of the Jewish people. The grievance of the heresy of democracy, which impedes the imposition of sharia law. The grievance of a work of fiction written by an Indian living in London. The grievance of the existence of black African Muslim farmers, who won't abandon lands in Darfur. The grievance of the existence of homosexuals. The grievance of music, and of most representational art. The grievance of the existence of Hinduism. The grievance of East Timor's liberation from Indonesian rule. All of these have been proclaimed as a licence to kill infidels or apostates, or anyone who just gets in the way.
FOR a few moments yesterday, Londoners received a taste of what life is like for the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, whose Muslim faith does not protect them from slaughter at the hands of those who think they are not Muslim enough, or are the wrong Muslim.
It is a big mistake to believe this is an assault on "our" values or "our" way of life. It is, rather, an assault on all civilisation. I know perfectly well there are people thinking, and even saying, that Tony Blair brought this upon us by his alliance with George Bush.
A word of advice to them: try and keep it down, will you? Or wait at least until the funerals are over. And beware of the non-sequitur: you can be as opposed to the Iraq operation as much as you like, but you can't get from that "grievance" to the detonating of explosives at rush hour on London buses and tubes.
Don't even try to connect the two. By George Galloway's logic, British squaddies in Iraq are the root cause of dead bodies at home. How can anyone bear to be so wicked and stupid? How can anyone bear to act as a megaphone for psychotic killers?
The grievances I listed above are unappeasable, one of many reasons why the jihadists will lose.
They demand the impossible - the cessation of all life in favour of prostration before a totalitarian vision. Plainly, we cannot surrender. There is no one with whom to negotiate, let alone capitulate.
We shall track down those responsible. States that shelter them will know no peace. Communities that shelter them do not take forever to discover their mistake. And their sordid love of death is as nothing compared to our love of London, which we will defend as always, and which will survive this with ease.
Read more here.
I'll add only one thing: The fact that Muslims were killed by the bombings was no accident, it was deliberate, indicated by the setting of a bomb at Edgeware Road, a largely Muslim area. Non-fundamentalist, "apostate" Muslims are indeed the jihadists' ultimate target, as was seen when the Taliban took over Afghanistan.
(Hat tip to my friend Dan Ramirez, whom some of my readers know as Hombre, and who is in Europe this summer at an artists' colony.)