There are secular Muslims about who do condemn bombing innocent people, for sure, but I'd suggest however that just as there are few Muslims who actively campaign against clitorectomies or the compulsory wearing of veils, there are few who are active in seeking to remove the stain of violent jihad from their culture, and many -- including western intellectuals and commentators -- that apologise for it. (Irfan Khawaja points the finger at Tariq Ali, for example, over here. Sir Humphrey's posts Christopher Hitchens's response to Ron Reagan Jr over here.) And one of the imams who condemned violence yesterday on the BBC represented the mosque in which was recruited the British-born Muslim that tried two years ago to blow up a US passenger airline with explosives in his shoe. This is not condemnation so much as tacit acceptance of the evil in one's midst.
So, to answer another of Simon's questions, I don't by any means condemn 1.4 billion Muslims -- I don't even know most of them for goodness' sake. As Simon says (insert obvious punchlines here) , "much as I despise the bastards who did this, I despair when I hear comments that imply that the whole of Islam is responsible for this sort of thing." Clearly 'the whole of Islam' did not bomb London, or Madrid, or Istanbul, or Jakarta, or Bali, or New York. But there is a world-wide trend there, don't you think, that we should not ignore. One that needs to be taken seriously, and one that needs to be condemned.
In my opinion it is the culture of Islam fundamentalism that needs to be condemned, as I argued here briefly just the other day before all this happened, and here some weeks ago. And in answer to criticisms that this attitude is racist, or that cultures themselves are beyond criticism, nonsense. Culture and race are two different things. One can condemn a culture without necessarily condemning those within it :
The fact is that cultures are not beyond criticism (a point made last week by Wellington probation officer Josie Bullock), and nor should they be. We should judge Islamic culture, and indeed all cultures, according to how well they work for those within them. Thomas Sowell made exactly that point in his book Conquest and Cultures:Islamic culture does not work for those dirt poor people scraping a living across the globe in Muslim theocracies, and it sure as hell ain't working for those killed by Islamic bombs in the cities across the world to which many of those dirt poor have themselves escaped in search of a better life. A culture that encourages murder and martyrdom and theocratic dictatorship is not a culture that reveres human life. It must be condemned and it must be defended against.Cultures are not museum-pieces. They are the working machinery of everyday life. Unlike objects of aesthetic contemplation, working machinery is judged by how well it works, compared to the alternatives.
As long as the Islamic world harbours within it those have declared and carried out jihadic murder in the west, then the war of self-defence must be entered, both on the ground and in the battlefield of ideas.
It's not enough to just condemn it, however. Islam must be reformed, and the hate-success, clitorectomies-for-everybody, kill-the-west culture that has fomented nothing but hatred and poverty across the Muslim world firmly rejected. Witness the effect that the sisters of Robert McCartney (pictured left) had in speaking out against Irish violence -- in saying "NO MORE!" they brought the hope of an end to what once seemed unending. Only such a rejection from within is ever going to change the culture of Islam.
Second, Islam needs a Reformation. Urgently. As I pointed out here and here four years ago to noisy dissent, unlike the West, Islam never had a Reformation, and 1.4 billion Muslims and at least 750 Londoners are the poorer for that today. Islam never had a Renaissance. It never had an Aquinas to liberate science, thought and life from its religious shackles. Crikey, Islam doesn't even have a New Testament saying that all the God-awful and God-ordained killing in that earlier collection of papyrus is no longer necessary. Islamic culture needs to embrace Enlightenment values, and it needs to do so damn quickly.
It needs its own McCartney sisters and its own Aquinas. Until it gets them the culture stands condemned, with smoking ruins and a trail of corpses across the west as sad monuments to its destructive power.