The Al Qaeda bombings that shook London and the world did more than shatter a British bus, some subway cars and countless lives. It shattered a growing complacency in the United States and in Britain that the immediate threat posed by Al Qaeda has been largely dissipated.
It’s about time. For months now, our focus has not been on our enemies but on ourselves, as President Bush’s domestic political adversaries have indulged in an orgy of American self-criticism and self-condemnation. On television, footage of 9/11, the beheadings of Nicholas Berg, Paul Johnson and others have been impossible to find. Instead, endless arguments are the order of the day, as politicians and pundits argue about the impact of Abu Ghraib, and debate whether Al Qaeda suspects detained at Guantanamo – living in air conditioned facilities, playing soccer, ping-pong and volleyball, and fed better meals than our own soldiers – are being treated with sufficient care.
If there is any good to be found in the events of last week, perhaps it will be a renewed seriousness – an understanding that, in fact, we are up against a crazed and merciless Islamofascist enemy that has no compunction about random acts of the most brutal violence, even in the heart of a city with a significant Muslim population. The heartbreaking television footage of a small English boy, weeping as he placed a bouquet at a makeshift London shrine, should remind all of us: Our enemies rejoice in his tears – and if they had their way, they would kill him, too.
Of course, the foolish and the evil will always be with us. MP George Galloway stepped forward last week to insist that with the bombings, Londoners had “paid the price” for Britain’s military presence in Iraq. What men like Galloway never explain is how, short of appeasement, they would address the Al Qaeda threat. And in espousing appeasement, they never explain why the foreign policy of benevolent, generous and free countries like America and Britain should be dictated by a group of bloodthirsty lunatics whose greatest wish is to see Americans, Englishmen – and free people everywhere – dead.
With every savage attack, however, it becomes easier to see Al Qaeda – and its apologists – for what they are. And along with a newfound seriousness about addressing the Islamofascist threat, the bombings may have sparked a new spirit of courage and resolution across Europe. At www.werenotafraid.com (“We’re Not Afraid”), people from across the Continent, and across the world, have emailed thousands of pictures – all in a spirit of resolution and defiance. Clearly, the millions of brave Europeans who battled Nazis and Communists in the last century have descendants who, today, shake their fists in defiance at these new and murderous totalitarians.
Even as we mourn the loss of life and pray for all the victims of Islamofascist terrorist attacks, there’s reason for hope. If their attacks spark a renaissance of seriousness and a rebirth of spirited resistance in the free world, the terrorists may find that attacks intended to damage the innocent have become just one more step down the path to their own ultimate destruction.
[This piece originally appeared at The One Republic.]