Muslims cannot control their anger or their violent urges. Unlike us white, Christian-originated folk, they are given to outbursts of furious violence in response to things that offend or upset them. They’re automaton-like, seeing a horrible thing on TV or the internet and instantly feeling overcome with an urge to lash out, kill, bomb, destroy.
That, at least, is the offensive image of Muslims that is being unwittingly promoted by the left-leaning commentators and activists who claim that British foreign policy is responsible for Islamist attacks here at home. These observers think they are being radical, through suggesting that wicked, warmongering Tony Blair or David Cameron are ultimately responsible for 7/7 or the murder of Lee Rigby, but in truth they are depicting Muslims as a race apart, as morally inferior to the rest of us, as so lacking in agency that even their grave decision to murder others is not really their own.
No sooner had Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale been found guilty of murdering Drummer Lee Rigby than Islamist apologists were trying to absolve them of ultimate responsibility for their actions. In today’s Guardian, Seumas Milne says the murder of Rigby is the ‘predicted consequence’ of the ‘avalanche of violence unleashed by the US, Britain and others’ since 9/11. In short, the two poor Michaels are simply caught up in an avalanche, being swept along by the tumultuous events of the post-9/11 era, dutifully playing a role created for them by Western powers: Fuming Muslims. It is our wars overseas that are ‘fuelling domestic terror attacks’, says Milne.
Milne is effectively putting forward an argument for diminished responsibility, suggesting that the Woolwich killers were mere actors in a larger tragic drama scripted by Washington and Whitehall. He echoes other commentators who have said that the murder in Woolwich was an ‘inevitable outcome’ of the war on terror. ‘Inevitable’ - think about what is being said here; basically that Adebolajo and Adebowale could not have stopped themselves even if they had wanted to. One commentator said it was Western powers that ‘created [the] bloodshed’ in Woolwich. In short, Adebolajo and Adebowale aren’t responsible for what they did.
These arguments aren’t radical; they’re reactionary. For what they really promote is the idea that angry young Muslims lack the capacity to make moral judgements and to restrain their urges. To say the murder in Woolwich was ‘inevitable’, was ‘created’ by others, was part of an ‘avalanche’ of Muslim fury unleashed by America and Britain, is not a blow against the West - it is a blow against the idea that Muslims, like the rest of us, are capable of sitting down, thinking straight, working out right from wrong, and making an independent decision about how to behave.