Thursday, November 04, 2004

This is What Terrorism Does

We've heard a lot recently, with the new bin Laden tape especially, about what I'll call the Standard Theory of Terrorism: terrorists try to get a response from the government with their bombings and murders. The theory being that the response will be indiscriminate or disproportionate and this will push people into the arms of the terrorists.

In al-Qaeda's case, they hoped the US would attack Islamic countries and outraged Muslims would rise up and overthrow their corrupt governments. Often when this theory is expounded in the media the implication is that if the government response was more precise or more like a law enforcement effort and less like a military action, we would lower the risk of arrousing the sympathizers or the 'Muslim street'. (Extreme pacifists say we should not respond at all; far-leftists say that we deserve to be attacked - but they simply don't count.)

There is another side to the Standard Theory of Terrorism that does not get much attention. Yet. If the government response to terror is seen by the public as insufficient or ineffectual then, in a democratic society, a movement will grow based on a different, more potent method of dealing with terror. (In a non-democratic society this movement could take the form of a terrorist group against the terrorists. This happened in a few Latin American countries where Leftist guerillas were pitted against Rightist paramilitary groups, but that's a different story.)

Now look what is happening in the Netherlands after the killing of van Gogh.

Andre Krouwel, a political scientist at Amsterdam's Free University, said the killing would polarise society even more, with the prospect of a new far-right party emerging as well as a more radical immigrant underclass.

It's not just the killing of one man. Theo van Gogh's death is becoming the rallying point for deep and profound anti-Muslim sentiments that the government has been ignoring for years, since before the assassination of popular anti-immigrant politican Pim Foruyn.

A survey last week showed that a majority of Dutch said they expected to no longer feel at home in their own neighbourhood in five years due to the rising number of foreigners. In the three biggest cities, immigrants make up about a third of the population and form a majority among young people.

According to the Standard Theory the government would not want to clamp down too hard on the nascent Rightists for fear of arousing sympathy for them among the general populace. I don't think the Dutch government has learned this.

A group of far-right protesters shouting "Islamists, parasites" were arrested in The Hague on Tuesday . "I don't rule out unrest. The climate is seriously hardened," said Interior Minister Johan Remkes.

Notice how quickly the police were to arrest the right-wing native Dutch but the foreign Islamists seem to go around untouched.

Moroccan teenagers have allegedly spat on a large portrait of murdered Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh in Amsterdam, it was reported Thursday. Initially greeted by applause for painting the portrait, Spaanstra claimed some Moroccan teens then hassled him, screaming "Hamas, Hamas".

Meanwhile the Euro-Muslim elites are in full outrage mode, not over the killing but over public discussion of the suspect's ethnic identity.

Immigration and Integration Minister Rita Verdonk was the only one of the three speakers at a special rally in Amsterdam on Tuesday evening to remind the 20,000-strong crowd that the 26-year-old man arrested after the killing held both the Moroccan and Dutch nationalities.

The Arab European League (AEL) went so far as to liken the appearance of Verdonk at a rally in Amsterdam to a "Hitler speech, with only the little mustache missing".

The Union of Moroccan-Dutch Academics (UMAH) said Verdonk had gone "very close to the edge" of acceptable comment by mentioning the suspect's dual nationality in her speech. Said Bellari of the UMAH said her "us and them" rhetoric and her "fractured reasoning" would harm the cause of integration.


Now 8 men of Algerian and Moroccan origin have been arrested. As terror attacks and assassinations continue throughout Europe look for an increase in anti-immigrant Rightist parties. What are Europeans supposed to do? Their left-of-center governments either cannot or will not reduce immigration by Muslim fundamentalists. They can form new parties, win elections and enforce new policies or they can take to the streets. Either way this will not blow over. Suddenly Dutch politics is important.

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