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JEFFJACOBY

Terrorism is never justified


ByJeffJacoby G LO B E C O LUMNI S T MAY 15, 2 013

BROADCASTINGFROMBostonthedayaftertheMarathonbombing,acorrespondent
fortheFrenchCanadianTVchannelLCNexplainedwhyAmericansshouldntbe
surprisedwhensuchatrocitiesoccurred.Itsthepricetheyhavetopayforbeinga
superpower,RichardLatendressetoldhisviewers.Itmaybeunpeutragique,he
conceded.Buthey,thatswhathappenswhenanationtakessomuchprideinits
militarypowerandhasinflictedsimilarsufferingonothers.
WritinginTheGuardianthesameday,GlennGreenwaldnotedthatsofartherewas
virtuallynoknownevidenceregardingwhodiditorwhy.Yetoneparagraphlater,he
wasrailingagainstattacksthattheUSperpetratesratherthansuffersandcallingthe
bombingsexactlythekindsofhorrific,civilianslaughteringattacksthattheUShas
beenbringingtocountriesintheMuslimworldoverandoverandover.
CONTINUEREADINGBELOW

ThentherewasRichardFalk,aUNhumanrightsinvestigatorandprofessoremeritusat
Princeton,whoattributedthebloodymayheminCopleySquaretoourgeopolitical
Enjoyyourfirstfreearticle
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fantasyofglobaldomination.Themarathonbombings,Falksuggestedinanarticlefor

Youcannowread5free
ForeignPolicyJournal,wereafittingretributionforUSactionsabroad.Hepointedly
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Truly,thereissomethinggrotesqueaboutpeoplewhosefirstinstinctaftersomethingas
awfulasthePatriotsDayterrorattackistoparadetheirmoralsuperioritybyindicting
Americasculture,society,orforeignpolicy.Yetthereneverseemstobeashortageof
suchparaders,particularlyinacademia,themedia,andthearts.Backin2001,TheNew
Republicranafeatureforweeksafter9/11calledIdiocyWatch,inwhichitcatalogued
thebarrageofbitterandfatuouscommentsbeingmadeabouttheattacksbywell
knownintellectualsforwhomideologyapparentlytrumpedeverything,decency
included.
WeinAmericaareconvincedthatitwasblind,madfanaticswhodidntknowwhat
theyweredoing,saidNormanMailer,tocitejustoneofmanyexamples.Butwhatif
thoseperpetratorswererightandwewerenot?
Torereadthosewords11yearslateristobedisgustedalloveragainthatoneofthe
nationsleadingliteraryfigurescouldhaveproposedthatOsamabinLadenandtheAl
Qaedahijackerswererighttoplanandcarryouttheirghastlyslaughter.Ontheone
monthanniversaryoftheMarathonbombings,thesuggestionthatfourpeoplediedand
scoresweremaimedbecauseofAmericasglobaliniquityisnolessrevolting.
YetthatdidntinhibitLondonsformermayorKenLivingstone,whowentonIrans
EnglishlanguageTVchanneltoexplainthattheterroristsdetonatedthosepressure
cookerbombsbecausepeoplegetincrediblyangryaboutinjusticessuchasthe
tortureatGuantanamoBayandlashout.ItdidntstopMarkLeVine,aUniversity
ofCaliforniahistoryprofessor,fromadvisingAmericanstoadmitthatasasocietythey
produceanincredibleamountofviolence,whichinturnhelpsproducepeoplelikethe
Columbine,Newtown,orBostonmurderers.
TherehavealwaysbeenWesternersquickto
seetheUnitedStatesasculpableor
contemptibleineverycrisistheurgeto
blameAmericafirstwaswellknownlong
beforeJeaneKirkpatrickexcoriateditina

Inthewakeofabloodyatrocity,
thefirstdutyofcivilizedpeople
isnottostartaskingwhythe
evildoershateus.

famousspeechin1984.Intheabstract,of
course,thereisnothingwrongwiththoughtful
selfcriticism.Forbothindividualsandsocieties,itisamarkofhealthtobeabletolook
inwardandacknowledgefaultnosocietycanprogressifitcannotbehonestaboutits
shortcomings.

Butitisnotpartofconstructiveselfcriticismtomakeexcusesforthosewhocommit
actsofterrorism,ortoexplainwhytheirvictims,ascitizensoftheUnitedStates,hadit
coming.Youdontdemonstratesensitivitytootherculturesbytreatingwillfulsavagery
againstoursassomethinglessthansavagery.Terrorismisneverjustified.Perpetrators
arenotvictims.
InthewakeofabloodyatrocityliketheoneinBostonlastmonth,thefirstdutyof
civilizedpeopleregardlessofpoliticsorideologyisnottostartaskingwhythe
evildoershateus,orhowtheybecamesoangry.
Itistocalltheiractionsevil,anddenouncethemwithoutequivocation.
JeffJacobycanbereachedatjacoby@globe.com.FollowhimonTwitter
@jeff_jacoby.

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