Calling a Spade a Spade in Boston
One of the curious, but also most predictable, responses to the Boston Marathon bombings from the Left has been the fervent expression -- amounting nearly to a prayer -- that the perpetrator or perpetrators of this act of mass murder be “homegrown,” preferably white, male, Christian, and conservative.
Why? Why does the Left prefer to have its terrorism served up by Timothy McVeigh rather than Durka Durka Mohammed Jihad? It’s an interesting question. That the Left exhibits this prejudice is, like Falstaff’s dishonesty, “gross as a mountain, open, palpable.”
David Sirota, writing at Salon, gives almost comic expression to the genre in an essay with the really special title “Let’s hope the Boston Marathon bomber is a white American.” Why does Mr. Sirota wish that the Boston murderer of 8-year-old boys be a white American? Because a spectral quality called “white male privilege” operates insidiously behind the scenes. If Timmy McVeigh blows up a government building, says Mr. Sirota, only he is blamed. If Mohammed does it, Muslims are likely to be “collectively slandered and/or targeted with surveillance or profiling (or worse).”
What do you think of that argument? I think it’s hooey. For one thing, categories like “white male privilege” are a sort of Leftist version of phlogiston: hypothetical explanatory devices that have the unfortunate attribute of not actually existing. For another, there’s plenty of "collective slander" of Christian fundamentalists (you know, those “bitter” small-towners who “cling to guns or religion”) going around.
A full anatomy of David Sirota's hope for a great white villain would fill many pages. What I want to note at the moment, however, is how consonant it is with President Obama’s often noted reluctance to employ what Andrew McCarthy calls the “T-word” when commenting on episodes of mayhem and murder.
He doesn’t want to say “terrorism” when bombs go off and people die because, well, because people these days have an inexplicable tendency to think “Muslim outrage” when bombs explode and innocent people are maimed or murdered.
It is very odd. Most people are just not as Hume-ian as the president when it comes to discerning a link between “A” and “B.” Hume famously attacked the idea of causation, pointing out that just because “B” regularly has happened after “A” does not mean that “A” causes “B.” There might be a conjunction, Hume allowed, but to speak of causation is to speak presumptuously.
Logically, Hume had a point. But when it comes to what actually happens in the world, most people are, and rightly are, very imperfect Hume-ians. They observe connections. Then they draw conclusions. They observe (to take just a few recent examples):
- the 1983 U.S. Embassy bombing in Saudi Arabia, perpetrated by the Islamic Jihad Organization (63 dead, 120 wounded).
- the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, masterminded by Razmi Yousef (6 dead, 1000 wounded).
- the 1993 Bombay bombings, perpetrated by “underworld criminal groups affiliated with Islamic groups” (257 dead, 713 wounded).
- the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing, courtesy of Hezbollah (20 dead, 372 wounded).
- the 1997 Luxor attack, perpetrated by pals of the conspirators of the first World Trade Center bombing (62 killed and mutilated, 26 injured).
- the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, brought to you by Osama bin Laden and friends (223 dead, 4000+ wounded).
- the 2000 bombing of the U.S.S. Cole, more friends of Osama bin Laden (17 American sailors killed, 39 injured).
- the destruction of the World Trade Towers and attack on the Pentagon on September 11, 2001: you know all about that (nearly 3000 dead).
- the 2002 bombing of a Bali nightclub, perpetrated by al Qaeda and affiliates (202 killed, 300 injured).
- the July 2005 London bombings, perpetrated by “four Islamist home-grown terrorists” (52 killed, 700 injured).
- the 2009 Fort Hood shootings, sole suspect, Nidal Malik Hasan (13 dead, 30 injured).
- et very much cetera.
People (but not people like David Sirota or Barack Obama) observe these events and they draw conclusions. Not all Muslims are terrorists, but these days, if you are a terrorist odds are pretty good you are a Muslim.