I posted this comment on Kenan Malik’s excellent article. Comments welcome (more so to clarify my own thoughts):
Good article. Though I think Kenan Malik should have devoted more space to shaming the left wing commentators who wish to glorify this atrocity as a political statement..an understandable if unfortunate expression of “Muslim rage”. Sure, Fox News does more than that with their pet news items, but is it too much to expect Greenwald to ease off for a few days? He and his ilk are saying “this is a response to UK foreign policy”. What if someone spent the first five days after Breivik’s massacre explaining how it was a “response to Muslim immigration” and could have been avoided if Muslims stop immigrating to Christian lands? Would that strike some people as an unacceptable attempt to profit from a terrible atrocity?
A deranged murderer can come up with whatever explanation HE thinks is justification for his action, but it is still worth it to try and make some distinction between an organized political attack (no matter how good or bad or moral or immoral) and what is a deranged act that really does not deserve to be classifed as a component of ANY political project.
As an example of a crime that IS part of an organized political effort, see 9-11. It was not the act of one or two deranged criminals, but a systematic well thought out effort carried out by an organization with clear political aims. It was a war crime, but at least it was an organized, well thought out war crime with an ideology that explains the crime. THIS deranged murder does not deserve to be included in the same register of war crimes (or heroic acts of anti-imperialist resistance).
its a fuzzy line, but its there.
btw, on beheadings in Islamicate culture, see this.
PS: My thoughts on this are mostly tentative, but a couple of background points may help:
1. I admit that I am somewhat irritated by the sight of well fed prosperous hypocrites enjoying all the perks of their privileged position in the world order while encouraging the worst and most degenerate elements in the Muslim community to play out some juvenile revolutionary fantasy of theirs. If they are so eager to see blood on the streets, at least do it themselves. After all its not like Western “leftists” support the jihadist victim narrative because they truly believe that Christian crusaders led by Bush and Blair are out to destroy Allah’s one true religion. No, they support it because they imagine that this narrative, even if untrue, helps strike a blow against “the man”.
2. The Islamist-Jihadist victim narrative is not historically accurate (though like most victim narratives it has some elements of truth in it). By supporting and amplifying that narrative (in fact, by partly creating it…jihadists are NOT self-sufficient in bullshit. They cut and paste extensively from Chomsky, Tariq Ali, Greenwald, Alex Jones etc) Western apologists actively help to sustain the “radicalisation” process. These fanatics are not just listening to Anjem Choudhry. They are also getting validation for Choudhry’s bullcrap from more educated elite leaders of opinion. Without that validation, the notion that “this is what happens every day on OUR streets..and all of YOU are responsible” would be in danger of being exposed for the crap that it is. People like this Nigerian idiot are not organized resisters at even the Alqaeda level. They are what Tariq Ali would lovingly call “lumpen elements”. Low capability losers with no future, some of whom may be near or past the fuzzy boundary that separates psychotics from “normal” humans. These losers can be picked up by organized terrorist groups for use as cannon-fodder but they can also go for “suicide-by-cop” on their own. When they do, the narrative of Islamists (and of Western useful idiots like Greenwald) is the trigger of their action MORE than the actual complicated evils of world capitalism and modernity or the actions of the armed enforcers of modernity (who are not just British or American but include the elites of the third world..some of whose privileged sons and daughters are playing at world revolution in Western universities).
The mental reality in which these losers are living is so far from actual policy decisions and economic and military actions (good, bad, evil, whatever) that to focus on the policy decisions is to miss the point. The narrative ITSELF is the primary problem here, not British imperialism (which is WELL past its prime).