“Terrorism ruled out”—a mantra of liberal society

By about the third sentence of the New York Times article on the car assault on kafirs in San Francisco yesterday, we’re told that police have “ruled out terrorism.” Gosh, just like that. The notion that an apparently Muslim individual might be acting in behalf of Islam by committing terrorism on his own against a non-Muslim country doesn’t scan. Unless the killer has the equivalent of a card in his wallet saying, “Member in Good Standing, Al Qaeda,” he’s not a terrorist.

Discussing the tv coverage of the rampage, The Sweetness and Light website says:

However the KTVU piece does deign to mention that the apparently indescribable driver ended up near a Jewish community center. And that “one witness said he referred to himself as a terrorist.”

Of course the reporter quickly goes on to assure us, “but police say this case might have been many things, but it wasn’t an act of terrorism.”

A reader reminds me of how police had a similar know-nothing response when a Muslim assaulted the Israeli airline ticket counter at Los Angeles International Airport in 2002 and killed two Jews. As Daniel Pipes wrote at the time, along with the LAX attack, several other acts of obvious free-lance terrorism have been attributed to “work dispute, hate crime, road rage, derangement, post-traumatic stress, industrial accident.”

It’s nominalism as applied to terrorism: There’s just a bunch of unrelated individual acts. There’s no larger class to which these acts belong.

Which, by the way, makes it ironic that Pipes criticized me for my “essentialism” when I said that Islam has a real and enduring nature and can’t be, as Pipes insisted, anything that Muslims want it to be. So Pipes is a nominalist when it comes to Islam, but an essentialist when it comes to terrorism.

In any case, given the number of Muslims in this country who may not belong to terrorist organizations or have a specific terrorist strategy but who nevertheless with periodic regularity attack Americans, it occurs to me that we may need a new category for acts that express hostility toward America and a desire to hurt America, but that may not be terrorist per se. Perhaps we could call these acts random razzia rampages. Razzia is the Arabic word for raid, a key tactic of jihad.

Thinking about it further, I’m not sure where the line would be drawn between random razzias and terrorism. But that’s not the main point. The main point is that both the random razzias and the terrorism are subordinate parts of a larger category—jihad. Once we understand that, we can place each of these acts in their true context.

* * *

Michael Jose writes:

Maybe the solution to the “nominalism problem” is to start using the phrase “organized terrorism” more. It would make sense to say: “The police have ruled out organized terrorism,” when an act that is terrorist, but not related to a particular organization, occurs or is discovered and prevented.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at August 30, 2006 12:22 PM | Send

Email entry

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):