Thursday, May 6, 2010

It’s A Mystery! An Alternative, Satirical History

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By Barry Rubin

Although a revolutionary Islamist Jihad has been ongoing against the United States for more than a decade—involving thousands of attacks—and the Afghan Taliban announced that it was behind the Times Square attack, many observers seem to find it hard to understand what might be going on.

In tens of thousands of articles, sermons, speeches, broadcasts, Internet sites and every other known form of communication, revolutionary Islamists have declared that they want to overthrow the existing regimes in their countries (except for Iran and the Gaza Strip), transform their societies into ones governed by their interpretation of Islam, expel all Western influence, destroy Israel, and—if possible—reestablish the caliphate, take over the entire Middle East and even rule the world.

Apparently, however, some have not yet heard this message. For example:

Mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg: The Times Square bomber’s motives “could be anything,” perhaps a reaction against the new health care law.

Associated Press: “motive [is a] mystery”

USA Today: “Motive…remains a mystery.”

What if such thinking had prevailed in the past? For example:

April 19, 1775: “This is the BBC. Armed militiamen in the American colonies opened fire on British forces today in the small towns of Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts. The grievances compelling the colonists are a mystery.”

April 12, 1861: “South Carolina artillery has opened fire on Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor, though their motives are a mystery. Some of the gunners may recently have had their mortgages foreclosed.”

September 1, 1939: “Germany has just invaded Poland. Some think that this is in response to recent Polish health care legislation which left parts of the German minority without proper coverage.”

September 17, 1939: "The Soviet Union has just invaded Poland. Many observers believe that the goal is to rescue that country from German occupation since Communism and Nazism could never become allies.

December 7, 1941: “The motives of those Japanese pilots remain a mystery. The attack on Pearl Harbor might have been due to an outbreak of temporary insanity, perhaps because of something in the food on the Japanese aircraft carriers where they were based.”

“American isolationists said that they were opening the attack on Pearl Harbor was a domestic operation as otherwise the United States might have to fight a war with Japan.”

September 11, 2001: “The motives of the terrorists, er, militants who hijacked planes and flew them into the World Trade Center remain a mystery. Most analysts believe this is proof that the United States did something wrong and offended them.

"A number of journalists have expressed the hope that the attackers were members of Midwestern militia groups in order to avoid triggering bigotry against foreign Muslim revolutionary Jihadists and focus it where it really belongs: against Republicans.”

“Intensive discussions are underway on how to fundamentally transform the United States in order to fix the problem so this will never happen again. If such attacks do happen again they can be attributed to Islamophobia, attempts to enforce immigration law, the housing market, mental problems, or other excuses that will be formulated as necessary.”

--Extra Credit--Guess which of the above items accurately describes what many people did say at the time.

Note: Of course, one shouldn't leap to conclusions immediately after a crime has been detected but that means not speculating in any direction. Moreover, as it became clear that the size of the attack was hard to attribute to a single person, that the man in custody was a Pakistani Muslim, that the Taliban claimed responsibility providing some credible details, etc., the truth became pretty clear. The desperate attempt to avoid admitting that this was an Islamist attack--see also Arkansas recruiter murder, Fort Hood, Detroit underpants bomber, etc., etc., etc.--arose not from a laudably responsible desire to get the facts first but rather from fear of dealing with a very real international conflict and its roots.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). His new edited books include Lebanon: Liberation, Conflict and Crisis; Guide to Islamist Movements; Conflict and Insurgency in the Middle East; and The Muslim Brotherhood. To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books. To see or subscribe to his blog, Rubin Reports.

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