Friday, March 11, 2011

Irish-American Terrorists Threaten Jon Stewart With Execution. (NOT)

Just in case you are struggling to understand the difference between the IRA and Al Qaeda, please consider the two cases of Molly Norris and Jon Stewart.

In the wake of threats by Islamic extremists against Trey Parker and Matt Stone (of South Park fame), American cartoonist Molly Norris proposed (in April of 2010) that people around the world should draw cartoons of Muhammad as both a symbolic protest and to "water down the pool of targets." But less than a week later, Norris very publicly changed her mind, saying she had been "totally unprepared" for the response her idea received. Despite her repeated public apologies, Molly Norris' name was placed on a "hit list" by American Muslim terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki, who said, "The medicine prescribed by the Messenger of Allah is the execution of those involved." And as to anyone who participated in Norris' original idea of "Everybody Draw Muhhamad Day", al-Awaki said, "The large number of participants makes it easier for us because there are more targets to choose from." According to Norris, she was urged by the FBI to take the threats very seriously. In September it was reported that she had changed her name and gone into hiding.

In response to the first day of Congressman Peter King's hearings on the radicalization of American Muslims, Jon Stewart opened his show last night with a 10 minute tirade against the Irish Republican Army, whom he labeled as murderers and terrorists. Stewart made a special point of mocking anyone (including especially Peter King) who would dare to suggest that there is any meaningful difference between the IRA and Al Qaeda. Does anyone in their right mind think that Jon Stewart is in any danger whatsoever for doing this? It must be emphasized that Molly Norris, who was almost completely unknown at the time, merely suggested that people draw cartoons (and then almost immediately withdrew the suggestion and apologized profusely), while Jon Stewart, who is watched by over 2 million people four nights a week (and who was named Most Influential Man of 2010), publicly attacked Irish freedom fighters as savage murderers.


Kyle said...

This is a very good point. Now, as I understood it, the IRA, in Ireland and the UK often targeted people who spoke out against them, old members who turned away from the organization and were at times as brutal as the 1920's-30's Italian mafia was here in the US.

True, these sorts of vocal threats by radical Islamic terrorists are more pronounced and of course much of the time said out loud for propaganda purposes. But the IRA did there fair share of stalking and killing for perhaps not as stupid a reason as drawing some religious prophet, but in the end killing is killing.

The IRA is all but a shell of it's former self, and it's aims were pointed towards the British and supporting Irish Protestants. The radical Islamic agenda ranges from a simple expulsion of Jews from Israel to the complete inhalation of the Western world. The Muslims and Europeans fought many long wars over places, which are today called, Turkey, Hungry, Romania, Slovakia and even Austria.

In 1529, the Ottaman empire was nearing its peak of power, when they attempted but failed to take Vienna in a siege. While this war was fought over territory, it was religion that fueled much of the rhetoric on either side.

Apuleius Platonicus said...

The IRA did not do anything that the African National Congress, under Nelson Mandela's leadership, did not also do. The ANC used car bombs that killed civilians, they planted land mines, they held secret trials of those accused of treason, and executed those found guilty, etc, etc. War is hell. The United States also engaged in the intentional killing of civilians on a massive scale during WWII. It was called "strategic bombing." My point is that one either applies the same criteria to everyone, or else one is selectively accusing people of being "terrorists" for arbitrary reasons.

I think that it is possible to be brutally honest and completely objective about groups like the IRA and the ANC and to still see that there is a huge difference between them and Al Qaeda. If we can't do that then we should just abandon any pretense that any such thing as morality even exists at all.

Kyle said...

Agreed, I see your point. There are varying degrees of immorality. I think the word terrorism is a bit of a hot potato thrown around by many different groups to suit their needs.

Ben Whitmore said...

"Terrorism" is the use of acts of violence for the purpose of provoking terror, rather than for more traditional military strategic purposes. It tends to be the preserve of extremist minorities, for whom traditional military strategic targets are out of reach, but who consider mangling a load of innocent people to be quite manageable (both practically and morally).

Politicians and the media have lost all grasp of what the word actually means, and with the spittle dribbling down their chins are pointing left and right, yelling "terrorism" at anything or anyone they don't like. They have largely succeeded in whipping the public into the same frenzy, which is a real pity, because as long as they can keep people afraid, they have a continued mandate to pursue their agenda of increasing military and economic dominance, at tremendous human cost. Keep people in fear of "terrorism" and you can enact whatever laws, wage whatever wars you want.

I am certain it is possible to respond firmly and efficiently to terrorist threats without glorifying them the way we have done. I am certain Western actions since 9/11 didn't need to effectively become a huge marketing campaign for radical Islam. But in my cynicism I'm starting to wonder if that wasn't all part of the plan -- after all, it is documented fact that the "P2OG" group, to be headed by Donald Rumsfeld, was planned to incite terrorist attacks against the West. And as long as rag-heads keep blowing people up, Middle Eastern oil fields are ripe for the annexing.

The thing is, there is real terrorism mixed up in this, and it needs dealing with. But not with the patriotic jingoism and eye-for-an-eye blindness that currently prevails. We need to cut the crap, get some intelligence (and learn the English language), and start quashing terrorism in a serious manner, without lowering ourselves to their level. We need to understand it properly, including its motivations (which we can hardly do if we're not even sure what terrorism is), and we need to pursue and prosecute it in a cold, dispassionate way that doesn't create martyrs. Most importantly, if we take the moral high ground, that is, really take it, rather than just act the wounded bull, terrorists will lose their recruiting power. Their current popularity hinges entirely on the fact that behind the insanity of their methods, behind their rabid religionizing, they actually have a valid point in their detestation of the West. We need to stop perpetuating that.

Disclaimer: my 2c. YMMV.

Apuleius Platonicus said...

Hi Ben,

It's true that Politicians love to invent evil enemies as convenient excuses for militarization and also for encroaching on civil liberties. But (and you and I agree on this from what you say) obviously that doesn't mean real enemies don't exist.

Honestly, I don't see the specific issue of Peter King's hearings on radicalization of American Muslims as amounting to "yelling 'terrorism' at anything or anyone they don't like". Some of the most important leaders of Islamic terrorist groups today are American citizens. For example, Anwar al-Awlaki was born in New Mexico and has his BA from the University of Colorado (where he was president of the Muslim Students Association). He is one of the most effective propagandists and recruiters for Al Qaeda. He helped recruit three of the 9/11 hijackers, and also the Fort Hood shooter. He is also responsible for pronouncing the death-sentence on American cartoonist Molly Norris, who has been in hiding since September of last year as a direct result.

And the people that Peter King has called as witnesses are all American Muslims themselves.

And I also don't believe that Islamic terrorists have valid points. I don't think that one can be genuinely anti-imperialist, in any meaningful sense, while simultaneously promoting totalitarian theocracy, the subjugation of women, the extermination of gay people, etc. And people in the Arab and Muslim worlds have many other political alternatives such as secularist, nationalist and leftist groups. It is not up to me to say what groups Arab and Muslim people should support, but if they choose to support Islamist terrorist groups (groups that espouse, and put into practice, an ideology that is 100% reactionary and evil), then I refuse to recognize any legitimacy whatsoever in that choice.

Ben Whitmore said...

I think I agree with all your points, Apuleius. Sober intelligent public investigations that don't alienate more moderate Islam are exactly how things should be proceeding.
And I concede that it's not entirely wise to say that extremists "have a valid point" -- what I meant is that they tap into valid resentments against the US and other powerful Western nations, and recruit on this basis.

Best regards.

Ellen Catalina, LCSW said...

I'm not a fan of either the IRA or Al Queda. But I would not compare them.

The IRA is very specific in its demands. Namely, they want an end to British rule in Ireland.

Al Queda also has some specific demands- no intrusion of western countries in Arab affairs. Fair enough, but they also seem to want to impose Sharia law and a Wahhabist agenda on every Muslim country in the world.

For the IRA to be like Al Queda they would have to make demands that everyone live according to cannon law, that divorce and abortion be outlawed IN EVERY NATION WHERE CATHOLICS live. And then they would enforce this by targeting civilians outside of Britain and Ireland .

Al queda's targets know few limits- Kenya, Spain, the US, Indonesia, and many other nations.

The bulk of the IRA's activities are limited to (a) Ireland and (b) Britain

Al Queda seeks world domination.

It's a very crappy comparison.

Apuleius Platonicus said...

Hi Mamiel!

I'm still enough of an old-school leftist to have, at least in a very vague way, general sympathy for any group that, at least in my opinion, constitutes a genuine "national liberation" group. This could include everyone from the Mau Mau to the Sandinistas (etc etc). And the IRA definitely falls in this category, IMO.

And there is the distinction (referred to by Ben) between (a) groups that genuinely represent some valid form of resistance against oppression, and (b) groups that merely sieze upon valid grievances as a pretext for promoting their own reactionary agenda. Seeing where to draw that line can be very tough.

Ellen Catalina, LCSW said...

True. Another distinction may be that when freedomfighting/terrorist group legitimately wants to address grievances and work towards solutions, they will often have a political party to go with the cause.

The IRA has Sinn Fein and Sein Finn had Gerry Adams, who did a great job of brokering peace through negotiations.

The FMLN in El Salvador had a political party. And so did the FSLN in Nicaragua.And both were able to make a transition from fighting with guns to campaigning and addressing the less urgent concerns of the their constituants, like garbage collection and so forth.

I've always hated the Sendero Luminoso in Peru btw. I put them in the "promoting a reactionary agenda" category. And predictably, when the fighting stopped they had no power or will to do the more boring work of helping poor Peruvians by representing them in civil settings.

Apuleius Platonicus said...

Shining Path. Don't get me started. And then there's always the Khmer Rouge.