Friday, August 05, 2005

What is the Antidote?

(Hat tip: Mom)
Mortimer Zuckerman, the editor of USNews and World Report, writes an excellent article this week, much as he normally does; stating facts in a straightforward and honest manner and pointing out what should be obvious in a much clearer form.
This week, he discusses the terror threat that exists in the world today, and some of the changes we must make before we even begin to fight it.
Our leaders face an extraordinary challenge. They must make all of us understand the uniqueness of this struggle: a better word than war, which implies dealing with states and soldiers in uniform, when what we are up against are stealth and treachery. This is not the all-engulfing conflict of the two world wars. It will be marked by unpredictable pauses between attacks, sometimes from an "enemy within," who will try to find ways to exploit the very freedoms and openness that keep a civil, democratic society together.
Terror is unpredictable. It can strike at any time, in any place, against any group of people. It may strike at Jews, at the West, or even at Muslims who are not sympathetic enough to the twisted views of the terrorists.
In our open society, there is no way that governments can meet their most basic obligations to guarantee everyone's security. We cannot possibly police all the vulnerable pores in our highly mobile, free-market society, but we will somehow have to fashion new security checks and protections consistent with our democratic way of life.
It is unrealistic to believe that we can stop every attack; or even most attacks. But we must do our best.
Some progress has been made. The bombings in London and Egypt have stimulated a global alliance of political leaders. Europe, finally, seems to have seen the face of terror for what it is, as Americans did on 9/11. London has paid a fearsome price for its long tolerance of preachers who spew Islamic hate, inspiring jihadists around the globe, in Madrid, Casablanca, Saudi Arabia, and Israel. But the betrayals by the British citizens behind the recent London bombings have also brought a dramatic leap in support for Tony Blair and punctured the apologists for extremism.
This is just the first step. Zuckerman goes on to enumerate some of the actions that must be taken.
Platitudes will not suffice. New and tougher measures must now be on the agenda: tighter immigration reviews, many more of the closed-circuit television cameras that worked so well in London, monitoring of Islamic centers to be sure they are not used to recruit local Muslims to jihad, and more scrutiny of all travelers.
Otherwise, we may end up like Israel:
A more distressing possibility is that our cities may soon be transformed by a stream of bombings disrupting everyday life--a bomb on a bus or train, in a pizza parlor, a school, a shopping mall, a disco, a church. Our Islamifascist enemies have no scruples.
The world has become a global village--this time, though, of terrorism. It is a lethal cocktail of globalized ideologies, worldwide instantaneous communications, porous borders, and radical extremists that have wiped out the line between foreign and domestic threats.
When terrorist attacks hit London, Paris, Madrid, or New York, it doesn't stay there. The fear spreads to every major metropolis.
To stop this, we must respond as Israel has, and not as we have so far, and not as the British have so far:
The kind of political correctness that betrayed London will not do. When New York announced that it would screen subway passengers, the police immediately felt the need to say the checks would be random. But what sense does it make when random searches stop a mother with a child, because she happens to be the fifth through the turnstile, and then lets through a young Muslim man with a backpack? Targeted profiling of this kind, which has worked in other countries, especially Israel, is a necessary and legitimate security measure.
The terrorists, after all, have pretty well all been young Muslim men, and the Muslim community has a duty to do something about the poison in its midst, these misguided young men impelled by an upside-down version of their religion.

When a similiar type of occurence happens tragically by Jewish hands, as happened today, Israeli and Jewish society immediately condemn the action, and work at figuring out how to make sure such a thing never happens again. No blame is shifted onto other societies, no excuses are made; as Yesha leader Bentsi Lieberman said after learning of the attack:
"Murder is murder is murder, and there can be no other response but to denounce it completely and express revulsion."
The same standards apply to all societies. Israel and the Jewish people will do their best to stop future attacks such as the one that happened today from happening, and will do so regardless of whether or not the Palestinians and others do the same. At the same time, Muslim society must figure out how to teach their youth not to hate; not to destroy; not to kill.
This will not happen overnight. It will take many years, and many large changes - some changes may need to be similiar to what happened in Iraq. But no matter the path, Zuckerman concludes:
One thing we can count on: We'll have to hold on to our seat belts, for this is going to be a very bumpy ride.


  1. You quoted, "Targeted profiling of this kind, which has worked in other countries, especially Israel, is a necessary and legitimate security measure."

    Profiling concerns me. As I look back on history, profiling has been done time and again to pursue evil and hate. I am a Christian, and Christians have a long history of being "profiled" dating back to the very origins of our faith. The Soviet Union imprisoned any parent teaching their children to pray, imprisoned or killed Christian leaders, and destroyed Christian churches by the hundreds in their zeal to wipe out all religion. What were the seeds of this movement?

    As a Jew, you no doubt feel the sting of profiling. Jews, of course, were responsible the downfall of all mankind according to Hitler. The only logical conclusion was to simply exterminate Jews. Then our problems would disappear. This was perhaps the most extreme example of religious profiling in our recent history. What were the seeds of this hatred?

    Now, let me be clear. You have never advocated anything of the evil perpetrated upon Jews during the War. You have never called for the extermination of Muslims. You are a self-proclaimed man of God. As such, you could never call for the extermination of any person. But you have called for profiling. My belief is that such profiling is the seed of a greater hatred to come.

    If you were standing near the edge of a cliff, and a strong wind was at your back, would you walk closer to the edge or would you step further from it? I believe profiling is a step closer to the edge of that cliff. And the wind is blowing fiercely right now. We are better off staying away from the edge of that cliff. We are better off avoiding profiling and the seed of hatred that it will plant.

    It will take us years to win the fight against terrorism. We are simply not equipped to deal with it right now. This is not unlike our inability to deal with Soviet armament at the beginning of the Cold War. But we learned. We built systems and infrastructure and created amazing technology to fight that battle. And we eventually won that battle. The result will be the same with terrorism.

    Now, you also call for tighter immigration control and other measures. This is logical and would be effective. But the step into profiling is a step too far. It goes against everything the drafters of our Constitution held in their hearts as they built our nation.

    I am interested in your thoughts and I enjoy your blog. Good day, and God bless you.

  2. As I do not have much time right now, I will give just a quick response; Saturday night or Sunday hopefully I will have the opportunity to write more.
    I do not believe that profiling will cause more hatred; in fact, I believe that not profiling will cause that hatred. If we do not profile, and more terror attacks are committed, then our natural inclination will be to hate not only those that are responsible for the atrocities but also anyone who is 'like them'. If we do profile, and are able to stop many/most terror attacks, more people will realize that it is a small, crazy group, not representative of the Muslim population, which is trying to commit these terrible acts. More importantly, the less terror attacks that occur, the less reason people have to hate another group.
    You mentioned that many groups have been profiled and then persecuted over the years, and no group more so than the Jewish people. But there is an underlying difference, one which is very important. In almost all, if not all of those instances, the persecutors relied on lies and misleading the public to rile up hate; or tapped into the natural hatred that existed and found weak or false 'reasons' that eased the consciousness of the general public to allow them to persecute.
    In today's world, at least in the democratic society we live in, this is almost impossible. While in Arab dictatorships and a few other places this is still possible, in the US, UK, Australia, etc. this is not. We have freedom of the press; countries that are far more diverse, and therefore less prone to persecution of one group (who says we're not next); and live in an information age, where atrocities have scarcely happened and are already the headlines. Hitler, for example, relied on controlling the press and information. The West did not learn the facts of the concentration camps for over two years after they began, and even then very little. In today's open society, even the hint of something that is immoral is immediately reported - look at Gitmo (mostly false, exaggerated, or people's misunderstanding the neccesities in this type of war, but I spoke about that in a post on torture), or Abu Gharaib (saddening, sick acts of a few twisted individuals). Thank God, (though sometimes I wonder...) we have an open, free press; freedom of speech; and the like. Profiling is not internment; we are not going to lock them up as was done to some Japanese in WWII. It is using our intelligence to stop terror attacks from occuring. Many of the people who would be stopped have spoken out and stated that they do not mind getting checked every time if it will cut down on terror attacks. People are willing to sacrifice some of their personal liberties if it will allow them to enjoy the rest - of what use is freedom if you're dead?
    I have to go - as it is I've written too much for now - but please feel free to respond to this portion if you would like.
    Thank you for your good wishes - God bless.

  3. Good points all. I will read your further post in a week or so as I am heading out for vacation before school starts.

    Take care.

  4. Jim,

    It is good of you to be concerned about the civil rights of those affected most by profiling. However, as Ezzie pointed out, there are many large differences between the type of systemic discrimination and ouright genocide architected by Hitler and profiling in the open society of today.

    Profiling is just good police work. The point of no return is, as both of you have mentioned, is when the common opinion of Muslims is that they are terrorists, and then they will most likely unfortunately become victim to all kinds of discrimination, both outright and benign.

    It is crucial that both the U.S. government and the Muslim community make clear the separation of Islam and terrorism.

    With the recent fatwa issued by the Fiqh Council of North America against terrorism, the first small steps have been taken to separate Islam from terrorism. This is very important as it is pro-active and comes from the leaders in the Muslim community. Think about Rev. Martin Luther King during the Civil Rights movement... Something similar is going to have to germinate in the Muslim community this time around. Hopefully, there will many more statements (and gatherings/protests) like this one:

    But for Muslims the conviction for such a stand has always been and is direct from the Koran: "Stand steadfast before God as witnesses for justice, even though it is against yourselves." An act of terror is an act of supreme injustice. Its prevention is the moral imperative of every Muslim. Those who fail this basic test should have more to fear than that their civil rights might be infringed. In this stand lies our hope, our security, and our future.

    ~ Abdul Cader Asmal, "Foe isn't Islam, it's Binladenism"

    An interesting point to watch is what sort of impression the new language of "violent extremism" and "fanaticism" coming from the Bush and Blair administrations will have on the public, if any.

    Lastly, there is a good discussion about profiling in an earlier post by Ezzie that is worth checking out.

  5. Thank you Croaky, excellent points all; very similiar to much of what I was planning on saying, but better in that it was more concise.

  6. As I cannot remember much of what I was planning on adding, I'm just going to touch on one issue Jim brought up:
    "It will take us years to win the fight against terrorism. We are simply not equipped to deal with it right now. This is not unlike our inability to deal with Soviet armament at the beginning of the Cold War. But we learned. We built systems and infrastructure and created amazing technology to fight that battle. And we eventually won that battle. The result will be the same with terrorism."
    In the Cold War, we did create incredible weapons and other things that helped stave off the Soviet Union until they were finally overthrown, their ideology rejected. And we also made mistakes, with a number of notable witch hunts intended on rooting out Communists in the US. There was some good that came out of the suspicions that people had, but sadly the evil received more press.
    But we have also learned from both of those, and therefore will be in much better position to profile people without turning into a bunch of McCarthy's; to fight the battles that must be fought to defeat terrorism; and hopefully the patience, resolve, and patriotism needed to withstand what will be a long, drawn-out battle.