Thursday, July 05, 2007

Dar Al-Hayat on the Doctor Plotters

Someone (Richard Hofstadter?) once observed that John Birch Society members tend to be educated, but not in the topics which the conspiracy theories focus on. This probably applies to anyone with a conspiracist world-view, such as all those doctors who have evidently embraced jihad. There is a kind of intellectual arrogance that readily accepts the idea that the conspiracist is one of the enlightened few who know what is really going on in the world. Elias Harfouche, writing in Dar Al-Hayat, joins the list of those who ponder the phenomenon of Jihadist doctors:
There has been a public outcry in Britain over the fact that many of the would-be perpetrators of last week's bombings in London and Scotland hail from the medical profession. These doctors were given the chance to practice medicine in Britain's hospital in order to give the a chance to both improve their professional skills and cater to the needs of the variety of ethnicities seeking the services of public hospitals.

For these reasons, aspiring doctors have been given special leniency in the requirements for eligibility for a medical job in Britain. Granted, several journalists and news networks pointed out that several were under direct observation by British internal and external intellegence agencies (the MI5 and MI6) due to their contacts with other previous suspects. However, statements by the doctors' colleagues indicate that intelligence had little idea about the extremist and takfiri beliefs they held personally.

This seems indicative of a distinct Western phenemomen encompassing incompetence and gullibility on the part of formal institutions in addressing the threat posed by such ideologies on the one hand; and the insistence by these institutions on the possibility of coexisting with the members of the community that espouses these ideas. This for the simple reason that formal institutions wish to get closer to the community's members or believe they have little to fear from those who embrace humanitarian professions like medicine, teaching, nursing and the like. We have seen this kind of thing in the past, a vivid example being that of the pilots of the September 11 operation who so willingly took the lives of their innocent passengers and who up to that point were assumed to be carrying on with their lives as ordinary members of the community. In reality, their passengers ended up as charred corpses along with the other three thousand people who lost their lives as they were going about their daily jobs like good citizens. We saw another example in the July 7 London bombings, when several men - including a school teacher of cultural studies (!) - detonated the explosives strapped to their bodies aboard subway trains filled with passengers of all religion and race in an effort to kill as many of them as possible.

Today we face a group of 'doctors' targeting airports frequented by ordinary citizens or planting car bombs on public roads in order to kill clubbers and restaurant-goers, for the simple reason that the latter are engaged in activities or lifestyles that do not conform to the extremists' convictions, or because the terrorists are disenchanted with the general conduct of the society in which they live.

We hear that the perpetrators of these crimes invariably harbor grievances against Western foreign policy, particularly towards Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine - the implication being that they were acting out of a sense of revenge for lack of any other effective mechanisms to voice their grievances! This explanation not only represents a subtle justification of such operations - for its adopters are hesitant to come out openly in defense of such heinous crimes that make no distinction between the innocent man on the street and the policy-makers and the troops carrying out their orders. It also rationalizes and paves the way for future attacks of a similar or worse nature - so long as the last attempt fails out of pure bad luck, and so long as their remain grievances against policies towards Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine till God alone knows when.

This brings us to an issue that transcends politics and speaks to our values and the principles involved in participating in a human community. For we live in an age were there exist certain principles governing the conduct protest against policy - principles differing from those of blind and wanton murder. It follows that those who engage in, condone or turn a blind eye to such murder would do well to remember that the societies they target on the grounds that they are depriving them of their rights are the same societies that abstain from retaliating against those who seek to murder them without distinction between the innocent and guilty. It is precisely this trait that gives these societies strength and resilience and drives them to come to the defense of their values and principles - principles which emphasize acceptance of the other regardless of religion or race.
Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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