Monday, September 06, 2004

Perspective, Please

Oliver Kamm gives an object lesson in it:

Contrary to the preposterous claim (regularly aired by by Tony Benn, among many others) that President Bush has launched "what [he] called 'a crusade' against the Muslim world", the United States has, under successive Presidents, taken up arms in defence of Muslim populations: in the first Gulf War, Bosnia, Kosovo and of course the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. President Bush has explicitly declared his support for a Palestinian state alongside Israel. The reason the western democracies did these things (though I acknowledge the disgrace of the then British government's stance on Bosnia -- a subject for another post), and were right to do them, was not to combat "Islamophobia" (like Jonathan Derbyshire, I use the inverted commas because I'm quoting), but to uphold the values that define us. It's those values, which we can't dispense with, that generate terrorism. Islamists oppose us not because of what we do, but because of what we are: secular, pluralist and tolerant. Revulsion at Russia's cruel and repressive policy towards Chechnya is an important principle; we should not tolerate for a moment its degeneration into the type of sophistry we have heard so much of in the past three years.