I read the morning's news over my first cup of coffeee. Twenty arrested in Britain over a plot to blow up multiple airplanes. Chaos in the airports, with mothers drinking baby's milk to test against liquid explosives.
It doesn't take many mouse clicks to get to a Reuters piece that, after discussing the plot, works in, "Britain has been criticized by Islamist militants for its military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. British Prime Minister Tony Blair has also come under fire at home and abroad for following the U.S. lead and refusing to call for an immediate ceasefire in the conflict between Israel and Lebanese Hizbollah guerrillas."
Yes, root causes and all.
A few more clicks lead me to this post on the Blog Euphoria. In it, the author cynically wonders, "Yesterday: Major terrorism policy announcement by Home Secretary John Reid[.] Today: A 'plot to blow up planes' is apparently foiled, and Heathrow airport shut down. And my first reaction? Utter disbelief and a sigh of resignation. They've simply cried wolf too many times before - until I see the smoke I won't believe them, and even then I'll have my suspicions. Remember the tanks at Heathrow just before the Iraq war?"
I think of the gas station scene from the movie The Jerk. Steve Martin plays Navin, an enthisiatic innocent who has been randomly selected as prey by a killer. The killer, on a hill above the gas station, takes aim with a sniper rifle...
Madman: Dead centre - say you're prayers, half breed! (cans begin to pop on the display Navin is standing next to) Navin: Hey Harry, look at this! What's the matter with these cans? Madman: Die milk face! (more cans pop) Navin: These cans are defective - they're springing leaks! Come over here and look at this! Harry: Listen, you better run for cover or you're going to spring a leak! Navin: Huh? Harry: We don't have defective cans, we have a defective person out there! Navin: He hates these cans! Stay away from the cans! Madman: Die gas pumper! (the glass on a pump breaks) Navin: Get away from those cans! (Navin runs inside the station) Navin: There's cans in there too! (the gas station window breaks) Navin: More cans! Madman: Die you bastard! Harry: He doesn't want to put holes in the cans, he want to put holes in you! Navin: What?
Aside from the airline plot, rockets full off ballbearings drop in northern Israel, car bombs detonate in the markets of Baghdad and the road sides of Afghanistan. There will be jihadi violence in Nigeria, Kashmire, Thailand, Indonesia, Central Asia and elsewhere. In Europe, women are being intimidated into wearing headscarfs, while mobs chant, "We are all Hezb'Allah." Worldwide, there will be stabbings and shootings and arsons.
All of that, and all of it happening in one day -- just like the day before, and like the day before that. Day after day. These acts of violence will be done, and the perpetrators will make this clear, in the name of Allah.
Yet, like Navin mystified over the cans exploding around him, there will be many in the West puzzled by it all. Each act will be disconnected from the others, and each will be given its own excuse -- Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Colonialism, Fascist scheming by the Democracies.
"He hates these cans! Stay away from the cans!" "He doesn't want to put holes in the cans, he want to put holes in you!"