The Dangers—and Cowardice—of Becoming Inured to Terror

Nov. 16 2021

In the British city of Liverpool on Sunday, Emad al Swealmeen transported a homemade bomb to a women’s hospital, which he apparently intended to attack. Fortunately, the bomb exploded before he got inside, and his was the only death. The police subsequently arrested four men on suspicion of terrorism, but then released them. Stephen Daisley, surveying the reactions of the British public, notes that the it has “stopped being horrified” by such acts of terrorism:

Of course, the initial spectacle continues to startle us, and we utter oaths while shaking our heads, but it is a hollow response. There is not the same awed foreboding that washed over when the second plane knifed the South Tower [in New York City]. There is much less revulsion than there was when London commuters were blown to bits on the Piccadilly line. Theatrical acts of barbarism, staged by our fellow citizens, have lost their satanic dazzle. We have become inured to horror.

By rights, the attempted bombing of Liverpool Women’s Hospital should wrench us out of our self-medicated numbness. . . . I would like to think so, but I am not convinced.

In the wake of acts such as these, a reflexive call goes out to beware a rush to judgment. It is typically issued by people who are against even a leisurely stroll to judgment. There is a whole vocabulary of anesthetizing pabulum deployed by politicians, police, journalists, and others to soothe any potential anger or outrage among the public. There are a lot of soft-focus words like “communities” and “unity” and “values.”

There shouldn’t be a rush to judgment but there should be judgment. Anger is self-consuming but it is also a wholly natural sentiment. A society not roused to gall by the planned annihilation of newborns is not as advanced as it tells itself. It is not only legitimate but morally imperative to feel outraged. These are, after all, outrages. Downplaying them or rationalizing away their grotesque sadism does not make us more ethical or enlightened. It makes us cowards and, on some level, it makes us complicit. “We won’t let the terrorists win,” we simper, as though we’re even putting up a fight for them to win or lose.

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Read more at Spectator

More about: Terrorism, United Kingdom

 

How European Fecklessness Encourages the Islamic Republic’s Assassination Campaign

In September, Cypriot police narrowly foiled a plot by an Iranian agent to murder five Jewish businessman. This was but one of roughly a dozen similar operations that Tehran has conducted in Europe since 2015—on both Israeli or Jewish and American targets—which have left three dead. Matthew Karnitschnig traces the use of assassination as a strategic tool to the very beginning of the Islamic Republic, and explains its appeal:

In the West, assassination remains a last resort (think Osama bin Laden); in authoritarian states, it’s the first (who can forget the 2017 assassination by nerve agent of Kim Jong-nam, the playboy half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, upon his arrival in Kuala Lumpur?). For rogue states, even if the murder plots are thwarted, the regimes still win by instilling fear in their enemies’ hearts and minds. That helps explain the recent frequency. Over the course of a few months last year, Iran undertook a flurry of attacks from Latin America to Africa.

Whether such operations succeed or not, the countries behind them can be sure of one thing: they won’t be made to pay for trying. Over the years, the Russian and Iranian regimes have eliminated countless dissidents, traitors, and assorted other enemies (real and perceived) on the streets of Paris, Berlin, and even Washington, often in broad daylight. Others have been quietly abducted and sent home, where they faced sham trials and were then hanged for treason.

While there’s no shortage of criticism in the West in the wake of these crimes, there are rarely real consequences. That’s especially true in Europe, where leaders have looked the other way in the face of a variety of abuses in the hopes of reviving a deal to rein in Tehran’s nuclear-weapons program and renewing business ties.

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Read more at Politico

More about: Europe, Iran, Israeli Security, Terrorism