Tuesday, February 20, 2007

In a recent effective speech in New Hampshire, Newt Gingrich warns about the "genuine Danger of Terrorism" . He says:

The third thing I want to talk about very briefly is
the genuine danger of terrorism, in particular terrorists using weapons of mass
destruction and weapons of mass murder, nuclear and biological weapons. And I
want to suggest to you that right now we should be impaneling people to look
seriously at a level of supervision that we would never dream of if it weren't
for the scale of threat.

Let me give you two examples. When the British this
summer arrested people who were planning to blow up ten airliners in one day,
they arrested a couple who were going to use their six month old baby in order
to hide the bomb as baby milk.

Now, if I come to you tonight and say that there
are people on the planet who hate you, and they are 15-25 year old males who are
willing to die as long as they get to kill you, I've simply described the
warrior culture which has been true historically for 6 or 7 thousand

But, if I come to you and say that there is a couple that hates you so
much that they will kill their six month old baby in order to kill you, I am
describing a level of ferocity, and a level of savagery beyond anything we have
tried to deal with.

Gingrich chooses to illustrate his thesis about the potential he senses in today's Islamist terrorism by focussing on the horror of suicide bombing. This reminds me directly of Martin Amis's "The age of horrorism"

" Suicide-mass murder is astonishingly alien, so alien, in fact, that Western opinion has been unable to formulate a rational response to it. A rational response would be something like an unvarying factory siren of unanimous disgust. But we haven't managed that. What we have managed, on the whole, is a murmur of dissonant evasion. Paul Berman's best chapter, in Terror and Liberalism, is mildly entitled 'Wishful Thinking' - and Berman is in general a mild-mannered man. But this is a very tough and persistent analysis of our extraordinary uncertainty. It is impossible to read it without cold fascination and a consciousness of disgrace. I felt disgrace, during its early pages, because I had done it too, and in print, early on. Contemplating intense violence, you very rationally ask yourself, what are the reasons for this? And compassionately frowning newscasters are still asking that same question. It is time to move on. We are not dealing in reasons because we are not dealing in reason.


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