Thursday, July 07, 2005

This.....Is London....and It Was.....Dallas

Both Michael of GayOrbit and Andrew Sullivan are doing a great job of covering the London bombing and cataloging various reactions, so I shall not attempt to do the same.

I would, however, like to call specific attention to one excellent piece by Johann Hari. Two parts in particular struck me:

In the scarred miles between each explosion – walking from Moorgate to Liverpool Street down to King’s Cross – you could see several fights taking shape yesterday that will grip us for years. The fight against Islamic fundamentalism became clearer. Anybody who tells you these bombers are fighting for the rights of Muslims in Iraq, occupied Palestine or Chechnya should look at the places they chose to bomb. Aldgate? The poorest and most Muslim part of the country. Edgware Road? The centre of Muslim and Arab life in London and, arguably, Europe.

Does anybody need greater evidence that these Islamic fundamentalists despise Muslims who choose to live in free societies, and they would enslave Muslims everywhere if they were given the opportunity? Nor is this tit-for-tat revenge for deaths in Iraq: very similar jihadist plots have been foiled in France and Germany, countries that opposed the invasion. Anybody who doubted that the fight against Islamic fundamentalism – a murderous totalitarian ideology – was always our fight should know better now.

What I find most striking in Johann's piece is his following insight:

But another fight began yesterday: to defend our civil liberties – and especially those of the decent, democratic Muslim majority – in an age of terror. I headed for the East London Mosque – a few minutes’ walk away from the bomb in Aldgate – to watch afternoon prayers. Chairman Mohammed Bari said, “Only yesterday, we celebrated getting the Olympics for our city and our country. But a terrible thing happened in our country this morning… Whoever has done this is a friend of no-one and certainly not a friend of Muslims. The whole world will be watching us now. We must give a message of peace.” Everybody in attendance agreed; many headed off to the Royal London Hospital to give blood. But they were afraid the message would not get out: several people were expecting attacks on the mosque tonight.

If these attacks turn out to have been committed by British Muslims, we have to fight to prevent an outburst of rage against the wider Muslim community. If these attacks turn out to have been committed by rogue asylum seekers, we will have to batten down for a hard fight to defend the rights of refugees in this country.

This yanked me rather abruptly back to the night of September 12th, 2001....a night that I spent with others looking up at the dark Texas sky, seeing nary an airplane's lights on one of the busiest flight routes on earth....quietly discussing the latest news, the reports, the security we'd had to go through at work, the people to whom we had lent our cars and money to get them home.....all while standing in front of one of the Dallas-area mosques, lending a thin layer of protection to our friends who we feared were being targeted.

Thank you, Johann, for making it clear.....the terror of the attack itself can be made even worse by the terror of the reaction.

To Londoners, to the British people, and to those around the world whose loved ones were lost or are fighting for their lives....our hearts, our souls, and our grief are with you.

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