Mudcat Café message #2589448 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #119234   Message #2589448
Posted By: Teribus
15-Mar-09 - 02:01 PM
Thread Name: BS: True IRA ?? Who are they ?
Subject: RE: BS: True IRA ?? Who are they ?
The second article by Charles Moore:

When you're fighting terrorists, 'the vast majority' is not enough

Whether in Northern Ireland or among Britain's Muslims, extremists will exploit the reasonable majority, argues Charles Moore.

By Charles Moore

Last Updated: 7:20PM GMT 13 Mar 2009

Appearing on the BBC's Question Time on Thursday, I felt frustration. It seemed to me that good people, both on the panel and in the audience, had somehow been led into the wrong place.

In a sense, we were all agreed. Everyone condemned the killings of two soldiers and a policeman in Northern Ireland. And everyone, except for one Muslim member of the audience, condemned the demonstrators who had insulted the returning members of the Royal Anglian Regiment in Luton. Hearts were in the right place. But the arguments put forward took too much comfort from the concept of the "vast majority".

It is true as was demonstrated across the province this week that the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland want no return to violence. It is also true that the vast majority of British Muslims reject the notion that British soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan are, to use the disgusting words on the Luton placards, "cowards", "butchers" and "murderers". This truth is very important: if it were not true, we could not survive as a nation.

But it is not as comforting as people seem to think. All the Question Time panel, except for me, said that the demonstrations in Ulster proved that the "peace process" was secure. Yet the vast majority in Northern Ireland have always hated the violence. The two women who led the wildly popular Women for Peace movement there in the Seventies were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, but their campaign failed. That most people want peace is, sadly, not enough.

At the height of the Troubles, Sinn Fein never commanded more than 10 per cent of the popular vote, and active members of the IRA were numbered in hundreds. This did not stop the terrorists from gaining power way above their numbers. Indeed, you could say that is the whole point of terrorism why would you need the terror if you had the majority support?

Similarly, tiny numbers of Muslims turn out to insult our troops or threaten those who draw cartoons of their prophet Mohammed. Most British Muslims have little difficulty in condemning such behaviour, let alone the London Tube bombings.

But what happens in both cases is that the extremists exploit something dark and dangerous within the community from which they come. Because of the history of violence in Irish nationalism, the IRA could always claim a certain authenticity. And when it did so, it could find some leading nationalist figures who would make excuses. There were some Catholic priests, even the odd cardinal, who would be equivocal in condemning terror, some mainstream politicians, including the crooked Irish prime minister Charles Haughey, who found it useful to give a bit of space to the men of violence.

Today, that ambiguous space is at the heart of government in Northern Ireland. Martin McGuinness has become the deputy first minister without ever forswearing the legitimacy of violence. The killers of Pc Carroll, whom he now condemns, were the inheritors of what he did 20 years ago. His quarrel with them seems only, to use a favourite word of his friend Gerry Adams, "strategic".

Among Muslims in Britain, such ambiguities can also be found. There is a strong strand in the current state of Islam which sees the religion as a political project. This creed, often called "Islamism", holds that no society is legitimate unless it imposes sharia the law of God. There is no doctrine of tolerance, and a complete rejection of secular or Christian rule. Islamism spreads much more widely than the active advocates of violence. I have tried to get the Muslim Council of Britain, a sort of TUC of British Islam, to condemn the murder or kidnapping of British troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and it has always avoided doing so.

So when, as happened on Question Time, people say that the Luton demonstrators "have nothing to do with Islam" and so should not be described as Muslims in the media, they are missing a key fact. So are the people who say that Irish republican killers should be called "common criminals". The key fact is that the extremists do draw on wider political or religious traditions in forming their views; and their actions do resonate among many from those traditions.

If, as in Germany this week, a deranged young man walks into a school and shoots people, it is tragic, but it is not part of a movement. Terrorism committed by Muslims in the name of Islam (which forms that phrase again the vast majority of terrorist acts in the world since September 11, 2001), or by Irish republicans, is.

Since the problem is quite wide, we need, as a nation, to defend ourselves against it. We are choosing the wrong way of doing so. We so doubt our own legitimacy that we feel the need to delegate the task to our foes. Our Government feels that the only way to run Northern Ireland is to hand nearly half of it to Sinn Fein.

On the mainland, the Prevent programme, designed to combat violent extremism, often empowers and pays extremist Islamists on the grounds that only they can restrain their even wilder brethren. The shadow spokesman on these matters, Paul Goodman, has been trying for weeks to get the Government to tell him which Muslim groups are getting the money. So far, it can't or won't. For all we know, it could be offering fodder to a Trojan horse.

This appeasement quickly exacts a price. The extremists are much more aware than we are that the front line of the rule of law matters. So they demand that the front line be broken. Sinn Fein made sure, as a condition of entering government, that Tony Blair would abolish its most formidable adversary, the Royal Ulster Constabulary. One reason that three members of the security forces died this week is that we no longer have the police and security knowledge needed to prevent such attacks.

In facing militant Islam, the police, attacked for "institutional racism" and "Islamophobia", effectively seek "Muslim permission" for legitimate inquiries. This risks hampering proper police work.

Guess whom the Bedfordshire Police arrested in Luton. Not the demonstrators with their revolting insults, but the members of the soldier-supporting public who threw things at them.

Why, when you think about it, were we so angered by the Luton demonstration? First, because of human sympathy for the soldiers who have undergone so much. But I would suggest another reason an impotent rage at our public authorities, who demand so much of those who defend the realm, but no longer understand what the defence of the realm entails.