In many places and for many people, it already is. As I write this, Monday afternoon April 3, 2017, CNN has just interrupted its programs with the Breaking News about the attack in the metro of St Petersburg. As with every such attack, terrorism like this is already unbearable for the victims and their families, for the traumatized survivors and for the communities involved – and, in varying degrees, for the rest of us, stunned once again by the arbitrary choice of target, knowing that the next attack could very well be, literally, in our own backyard.
But it’s been a whole month (!), (a whole week ?), since the last bombing. Our present level of “tolerance” is destined to decrease. It is not yet a daily occurrence, except in war zones like Irak and Syria. We are not yet terrorized to the point that we fear to leave our homes, and when we do, would do so in fear and trembling. It could well be even that attacks do not need to become more frequent or even closer to home for us to reach such a level of rage and frustration at our impotence to prevent these random assaults, that we give in to the temptation of the witch-hunt, rounding up the usual suspects, presumed guilty until proven innocent.
I can’t help thinking of the incarceration of Japanese in California during World War 2. I can’t help thinking either of when I was a kid in Sydney in the first years of the war. I don’t know if there were Japanese in Australia at that time. But there were Germans. Our next-door neighbors, the Müller family, I was told, were “taken away” by the authorities. I never found out the full story. But both of these “precautionary” measures, in the States and in my own country, in World War 2, make me wonder how long it will be before we start locking up other families who live in our neighborhoods today, people whom we see every day, whom we know and who may even be our friends, people we identify as Muslims. They are no more terrorist, extremist, Salafist, fundamentalist mass-murderers than we are. But you never know. So just to be on the safe side . . .
An over-the-top analogy occurs to me. Imagine some right-wing extremist Catholics whose anti-semitism leads them to dynamite synagogues and Jewish schools (there is, of course, little danger of this ever happening). The temptation would be to condemn and confine not only all Catholics but all Christians, including Protestants – whether they are anti-semitic or not.
Moderate Muslims not only condemn – not loudly enough, it is true – radical Islamism, but are often its first victims. Some of us know – and we all should – that Daech (ISIS)’s objective is to foment Islamophobia among non-Muslims to the point that moderate Muslims are provoked, for their self-protection, to join the extremists. They are, however, as innocent as the non-anti-semitic Christians, Catholics and Protestants, of my analogy.
The most astute of the analysts of terrorism, and of the way to eliminate it, agree that military might alone is not the solution. We are facing a tyrannical, fanatical, suicidal, murderous, pathological ideology which can be fought and annihilated only by people who share the Muslim faith with extremists. Only they can hope to convince their co-religionists that the Koran’s “sword-verses”, calling for the assassination of “infidels”, must be seen as anachronistic, out-dated and inapplicable in the modern world. Non-Muslims have zero credibility; our arguments are rejected out of hand by advocates of the Caliphate and Charia law. We should encourage and support and offer whatever assistance we can – in financing a media-blitz, for example – to moderate, non-extremist Muslims who alone can prevent the Armageddon that awaits all of us – before terrorism becomes, in fact, unbearable.
P.S. Friday April 7 : We began the work-week with the St Petersburg metro, we end it today with Stockholm and its weaponized beer-truck. An unprecedented frequency in terrorist attacks, getting us closer to the unbearable ? In the interval we had in Syria Assad’s chemical attack and Trump’s 59-missile reaction against the plant and airport that launched the attack. Russian feathers have been ruffled. Is anyone in charge ? God obviously is not. That leaves Trump and Putin but also the rest of us, whose challenge I spelled out in the above post’s final sentence.
Palm Sunday, April 9 : Now the Copts have copped it – again – in Egypt ! What a way to begin Holy Week, with no Easter in sight . . .