Where is the righteous anger?
Published 05/07/2015 | 02:30
The initial reaction to the cold-blooded murders of three Irish citizens on holiday in Tunisia has been one of shock, sympathy and, to a largely unspoken extent, a measure of fear. At a level, fear is to be expected as a consequence of what is, after all, the intention of terrorism. But now that the funerals of the Irish victims, Larry and Martina Hayes from Co Westmeath and Lorna Carty from Co Meath have taken place, the time has come to ask - where is the righteous anger?
Because righteous anger, not fear, should be the starting point in attempting to deal with the terrorism which so wilfully took the lives of not just three Irish citizens, but of 35 others, mostly Britons, in Sousse last Friday week. The Taoiseach, Enda Kenny has described the murders of the three Irish citizens as "an act of hatred" and insofar as one can describe the motivation of the man who loaded and pulled the trigger of a machine gun, he is correct.
To describe terrorism is one thing; but to contend with it, it is also necessary to address its psychological deformities, including its potential to develop into tyranny. It is said, and history informs us, that terrorists are tyrants-in-waiting. The argument goes that they are motivated by poverty or lack of opportunity, but the truth is that Islamic terrorism is driven by a vision of a coming collectivist Utopia that will annihilate the West.
Across the world, we are witnessing both a struggle for democracy and the disturbing strength of tyrannical regimes and movements. Democracy and tyranny are, in fact, in a dead heat for supremacy, not in some distant land, but along or close to the borders of Europe, whether it is civil war in Syria, Russian aggression, or the threat of Isil. For democracy to defeat tyranny, Europe must remain united and vigilant against the threats that prowl its borders.
But before democracies can take the fight to tyranny, they have to name it for what it is and understand what drives those who adhere to its wicked philosophy. In a way, the term "terrorism" can be misleading as it suggests something stateless or a random aberration akin to "rampage killings" as happened on the beach in Tunisia. The real battle is between two fully actualised regimes with diametrically opposed principles: liberal democracy and tyranny.
It is self-evident that the vast majority of Muslims are not terrorists or supporters of terrorism. But all self-identified Islamic terrorists are by definition Muslims until the majority of their co-religionists make it clear that they are not. Some do, but not enough. Islam needs its own Reformation to combine the greatness of its enduring faith with modern individual rights, as happened in the West several centuries ago.
At a more immediate level, Europe and other liberal democracies worldwide must also adapt to the ever-changing threats to provide continued support in the fight against terrorism. Legitimate government surveillance programmes and greater cyber-investigation capabilities are important. Greater intelligence and law enforcement cooperation is also needed to uncover and neutralise terrorist plots, curtail the flow of foreign fighters to Syria, and monitor the activities of foreign fighters who have returned to their home countries. This does not mean that liberal democracies should be allowed to do anything in the name of national security. Far from it. Governments also have an obligation to follow the law and respect individual privacy and liberty.