The mass murder–for that’s what it was, mass murder–of 156 children at Beslan in Russia by Muslim fanatics masquerading as Chechnyan nationalists gives the lie to a couple of favorite liberal myths about terrorism. One is the myth called It’s All Our Fault. The other is the myth called It’s All in Our Heads.
It’s All Our Fault goes like this: Blame the United States and its allies–for supporting Israel, being in Iraq, engaging in capitalism, whatever–whenever something explodes. We’re the wrongdoers, or Israel or Spain or the Philippines. The idea is that terrorism is the response of victimized peoples who have no other alternative, and we’re actually supposed to feel sorry for the terrorists. An editorial in today’s Wall Street Journal points out the flaw in this thinking: How exactly are “we” supposed to shoulder the guilt for shooting boys and girls in the back? As the WSJ says:
“Post-9/11, there were those who ‘explained’ the attacks by blaming U.S. policy in the Mideast as behind the ‘desperation’ of the hijackers. After the Madrid bombings, half the Spanish electorate effectively blamed their nation’s participation in the war in Iraq by voting out the government that supported the U.S. In the wake of every suicide bombing in Israel, that country’s policy on Palestinians is deemed responsible in many quarters, especially in Europe. Post-Beslan, who is prepared to blame the children?”
So how about instead blaming terror on–the terrorists? And the fanatical brand of Islam to which they uniformly subscribe? And the means they uniformly employ, which never include honest soldier-to-soldier combat but always involve the targeting of some innocent civilian group, whether it be office and restaurant workers in lower Manhattan, pizza-eaters in Tel Aviv, nightclubbers in Bali, contractors burned to cinders at Fallujah, or passengers on Spanish trains? This time around the depravity seemed especially acute: youngsters age 6 to 16 first deliberately starved and dehydrated in their stifling chool building, then slaughtered like animals (along with 200 adults) with guns, knives, and rigged explosives. But it was simply at the extreme end of a long continuum of like activity on a belt of evil stretching around the world. As the Wall Street Journal says:
“For it is the new reality of this current age in which innocents are specifically targeted by Muslim terrorists in the name of some Islamic cause. In Russia, the murderers were Chechens, aided by Arabs believed to be allied with al Qaeda. And so the children of Beslan join the ranks of other victims of Islamic terror–in a Moscow theater, a Bali nightclub, a Karachi church, and the Twin Towers of New York….”
“Whatever Russian President Vladimir Putin’s mistakes in Chechnya…, they don’t justify the deliberate targeting of innocents. Nearly all nationalist movements–from the American revolutionaries to the Irish Republican Army–have had enough restraint to avoid the systematic murder of children. But there is something dysfunctional within the soul of modern Islam and its supporters that deems such depravity acceptable. Perhaps after Beslan more of the world, and especially much more of the Islamic world, will begin acknowledging this as the deadly poison it is.”
And then there’s the most contemptible myth of all about the war against terrorism: It’s All in Our Heads. That’s the Michael Moore approach, the theory behind the liberal sneers at the Code Orange designations for buildings in New York and Washington, D.C.–it’s all a ruse cooked up by the arch-villain John Ashcroft so that he can find out what library books we’ve checked out.
Mark Steyn, writing in the U.K. Telegraph about novelist Wallace Shawn’s declaration to Brit writer Robert McCrum that President G.W. Bush was the “scariest” politician he’d ever seen, says that musings like Shawn’s are the reason that Bush now enjoys a doublt-digit lead over his sensitive Democratic rival Sen. John Kerry:
“Bush’s something is very simple: his view of the war on terror resonates with a majority of the American people; when he talks about 9/11 and the aftermath, they recognise themselves in his words; they trust his strategy on this issue. For an inarticulate man, he communicates a lot more effectively than Senator Nuancy Boy.
“Wallace Shawn, by contrast, is a writer, a man who makes his living by words and yet devalues his own currency. Is the Bush-Cheney tyranny truly a ‘scary’ time for him? Is he really ‘scared’? Of course not. He’s having a convivial drink with a fawning Brit interviewer; what could be more agreeable?
“‘Scary’ is — to pluck at random — being held hostage in a school gym and the kid next to you is parched and asks for water and the terrorist stabs him in the belly in front of your eyes. ‘Scary’ cannot encompass both that situation and Wallace Shawn’s vague distaste for Bush without losing all meaning.”
“‘This Russian school business works for the Republicans,’ a Democrat griped to me over the weekend. Alas, it does — because it’s a reminder for those who need it that the war on terror isn’t some racket cooked up to boost Halliburton profits but a profound challenge to America and the world.
“Could what happened in Beslan happen in the US? Two months ago, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported on a fellow called Mohamad Kamal Elzahabi, a suspected terrorist who’d fought with his fellow jihadi in Chechnya and somehow wound up in Minnesota, where he’d applied for licences to transport hazardous materials and drive school buses.
“Americans who care about this stuff know where George W Bush stands. They’re not sure where the Democrats do — sometimes it’s full-scale Michael Moore denial, at other times it’s going through the multilateral motions with [U.N. Secretary General] Kofi [Annan] and Co. No point on that continuum is of sufficient electoral appeal.”
Seems that while our intellectual class is willing to buy into the myths of It’s All Our Fault and It’s All in Our Heads, American voters have already learned the lessons that the dead schoolchildren of Beslan have to teach. Could be one big reason why it’s starting to look like a landslide for Bush come November.