Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Paris Metro doesn't get blown up.

France has foiled a terrorist attack on the Paris Metro, one that would have been akin to the recent attacks in Madrid and London. It's good to see some country's authorities effectively curbing terrorism. "Yeah, but," say our right-wing friends, "this is just another reason why we should hate Arabs and all Muslims. See, France didn't support the Iraq invasion, but they're still trying to kill them, so Arabs and Muslims are just terrible people who should be destroyed or at least severely oppressed. Even you liberals should see that by now, now that they attacked your precious France."

"Ah, Kurt," the more fair-minded of you might say. "Do you really think it's impressive or even fair to set up a straw man like that?" To which I say: That's not a straw man. I actually got into this argument with several right-wingers on the Yahoo message boards today. So there. Who won the argument? Why, I did, of course. Just ask me. Here's what I told them:

In 1960, France still possessed its old colony of Algeria. France was also in need of cheap labor, so it invited Arabs from its colonies and former colonies to come there and work. After a while, France didn't need cheap immigrant labor anymore, so an anti-foreigner attitude developed among some people in France. Tensions have long been mounting between France and Algeria since the Algerian War of 1960, when France tried to keep its prime colony from separating.

So when you figure how much France has been meddling in Algerian politics for the past forty-some years, and you figure how many resentful Arabs there are living in France right now, is it any wonder that things like this happen?

In sum, this was not an al-Qaeda attack, nor was it related to what's going on in Iraq right now. All Arabs and all Muslims are not alike, and this is evidence of that.

I hope this clears things up, and I hope it stems anti-Arab agitation. But I won't hold my breath.

As the discussion raged on, I was predictably chastised for saying we should try to understand Arabs, and I was attacked for suggesting that we should try to understand the terrorists. While that's not actually what I said, I will say that understanding terrorists is a good thing, because if we don't understand an unconventional enemy, how can we fight them? We should understand Arabs and other Middle Easterners, of course, for very different reasons. Basically, we should try to get along with everyone, but where terrorism is concerned, it just makes sense to with their hearts over so that we can dissuade anyone in the region who would make life easier for terrorists. That's not as easy as Arab genocide, I know, but as a human being, I can't say I'm going to consider the genocide option.

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