Saturday, October 02, 2004

Addendum to Diversion Argument Post

I find further support for the view expressed in my Diversion Argument post in Sam Harris, The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason (Norton, 2004, p. 236, n.5):

We do not have to bring the membership of Al Qaeda "to justice" merely because of what happened on September 11, 2001. . . . Our subsequent actions in Afghanistan and elsewhere are justified because of what will happen to more innocent people if members of Al Qaeda are allowed to go on living by the light of their particular beliefs. The horror of Sept. 11 should motivate us, not because it provides us with a grievance that we must now avenge, but because it proves beyond any possibility of doubt that certain twenty-first-century Muslims actually believe the most dangerous and implausible tenets of their faith.

That's right. The war on terror cannot be reduced to the task of bringing to justice the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks. It is not as if there are certain criminals whose misdeeds must be punished. On the contrary, we are engaged in World War IV -- counting the Cold War as WW III. The enemy is militant Islam, not just particular militant Muslims, or particular groups of militant Muslims, but the entire Islamo-totalitarian belief system and the sorts of actions that flow from it: mass indoctrination of innocent children in murderous ideas, suppression of women, destruction of cultural artifacts such as Buddhist statuary, etc. It is a war about fundamental ideas, a struggle in defense of civilization itself.

That may strike some as rather grand and overblown. But think about it. It wouldn't take much to destroy the relatively open societies of the West. Once the Islamo-fanatics get hold of nuclear weapons and take out some major population centers and financial hubs, all hell will break loose: world-wide economic depression, widespread fear and mistrust, mass round-ups of suspected terrorists, etc. Use your imagination. And I don't want to hear any bullshit about it being 'unimaginable' or 'inconceivable.' That's what fools said before the 9/11 attacks.

I don't mean to endorse Harris' book, however. Indeed, I feel a serious Auseinandersetzung brewing. Stay tuned.

And thanks to Rose Nunez for her support. Her weblog is becoming a daily read for me.