As I always write: Nick Cohen is Left wing; I frequently disagree with him; his journalism is often superb. In today’s Observer he defends human rights against the “War on Terrorism” crowd, attacks poor little rich boy terrorists and worries about the dangers of anti-Muslim racism.
Nothing has been sillier in the past few years than the wishful thinkers who instantly try to explain every outrage as a brutal but understandable reaction to Western, usually American, policy. In its own way the argument is a species of racism, which holds that the answers to all questions lie in the West and denies that the Islamic world is capable of producing apocalyptic movements just as irrational and inexplicable as the communism and fascism of Europe.
When the Prime Minister said that supporters of a psychopathic fundamentalism would happily kill 300,000 if they could, he’s telling the truth—in fact they have already killed hundreds of thousands in the Sudan, Iran and Afghanistan. The question is whether they can kill thousands of people or even hundreds of people in Britain. Because if they can and do, Herzen’s ideal of the Englishman doggedly clinging on to his civil liberties may not stand the strain and everything will go.