I understand the tension caused by young Master Jeremy’s hell wish. Christian believers should, of course, pray for evangelism, debate, repentance, conversion and dangerous stuff like that. Free speech, even.
But all of that’s out of line these days. It probably is safer to simply say “to hell with it.”
My initial reaction, hearing about the news this a.m. in the remote mountains of North Carolina, was a moment of relief that the attack was so conventional. The worst technology used was cell telephones. No nerve gas. No small but terrifying amount of radioactive material.
It’s been a long time since the Tube in London had conventional garbage cans. London is not a city that will be shut down long by a few bombs. London has seen its share of bombs, with all kinds of labels on them.
I do wonder how this will affect the European Union talks and, of course, the larger issue of Islam and European culture. That is, of course, what the debate will be about. Why? Because the people most at risk in Europe (other than Jews, of course) are moderate Muslims who have shown evidence that they want to live in a society where you can rally around concepts such as, well, religious liberty and the Bill of Rights.
This is a battle inside of Islam, and journalists have to make sure that they do not automatically assume that all of our friendly sources — those moderate Islamic voices linked to academia in Great Britain, the United States and elsewhere — represent the majority of the Islamic world. The reality is more complex than that. It is time to find the truly dangerous Muslim voices in the West and put them on the record, in part as a way of contrasting them with the endangered world of moderate Islam.
Andrew Sullivan has a link up to the site of British writer Johann Hari, best known for his work in the Independent and the major gay publication called Attitude. Here is the crunch of his concerns, which includes some interesting inside London information about the bombings themselves:
In the scarred miles between each explosion — walking from Moorgate to Liverpool Street down to King’s Cross — you could see several fights taking shape yesterday that will grip us for years. The fight against Islamic fundamentalism became clearer. Anybody who tells you these bombers are fighting for the rights of Muslims in Iraq, occupied Palestine or Chechnya should look at the places they chose to bomb. Aldgate? The poorest and most Muslim part of the country. Edgware Road? The centre of Muslim and Arab life in London and, arguably, Europe.
Does anybody need greater evidence that these Islamic fundamentalists despise Muslims who choose to live in free societies, and they would enslave Muslims everywhere if they were given the opportunity? Nor is this tit-for-tat revenge for deaths in Iraq: very similar jihadist plots have been foiled in France and Germany, countries that opposed the invasion. Anybody who doubted that the fight against Islamic fundamentalism — a murderous totalitarian ideology — was always our fight should know better now.
But another fight began yesterday: to defend our civil liberties — and especially those of the decent, democratic Muslim majority — in an age of terror. I headed for the East London Mosque — a few minutes’ walk away from the bomb in Aldgate — to watch afternoon prayers. Chairman Mohammed Bari said, “Only yesterday, we celebrated getting the Olympics for our city and our country. But a terrible thing happened in our country this morning . . . Whoever has done this is a friend of no-one and certainly not a friend of Muslims. The whole world will be watching us now. We must give a message of peace.” Everybody in attendance agreed; many headed off to the Royal London Hospital to give blood. But they were afraid the message would not get out: several people were expecting attacks on the mosque tonight.
We can expect to read waves of such quotes tomorrow. That is good. We also need to know who is celebrating in London tonight. Who, what, when, where, why and how. We need that information on both sides of that terrible divide in Islam.