Pundits and self-appointed experts on Islam are wringing their hands and trying to explain why two Muslim doctors and at least six other medical workers were involved in this week's failed bombings in London and Glasgow.
It certainly sounds horrific and counter-intuitive. Physicians, trained to heal, turned into would-be mass murderers with cars packed full of explosive materials and nails. Since I'm writing a book on why the Muslim world is so angry at the West, let me venture some heretical thoughts.
First, there is nothing sacrosanct about doctors. Behind carefully cultivated veneers of icy detachment, they have the same emotions as ordinary mortals. The most evil, frightening man I ever met -- and I've met a lot -- was Haiti's tyrant, "Papa Doc" Duvalier, who was a crusading country doctor before he turned into a Voodoo-crazed despot.
Second, the amateur, would-be killers who staged these bungled attacks were not, as many Western pundits claim, driven by some sort of homicidal perversion native to Islam. An entire cottage industry of publicity-seeking anti-Muslim writers is at work seeking to confirm the increasingly popular prejudice that Islam is a sick, demented, homicidal faith. These pundits are merely licking the hand that pays them.
The two accused doctors now under arrest in Britain were most likely driven by rage over the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, pure and simple.
Nothing ever excuses killing civilians. Those who stage horrific bombings against Israelis, Europeans, Americans and fellow Muslim civilians are criminals. Nothing excuses their behaviour. But we must understand why it happens and why it will continue.
Britain's new prime minister, Gordon Brown, responded the right way to the London and Glasgow incidents. Unlike Tony Blair, who raised anti-Western attacks to hysterical, apocalyptic levels, declaring civilization in peril, the dour Brown properly characterized the latest outrages as "criminal" acts to be handled by the police.
The two doctors suspected of trying to kill British civilians were most likely motivated by the same ferocious fury as the suicide squads who attacked New York and Washington on Sept. 11, 2001.
Their attacks were not the result of some innate sickness in Islam, misreading the Koran, brainwashing, or hatred of Western shopping habits. Our governments and media just refuse to face the ugly reality that such attacks are a direct reaction to our own violent actions in the Mideast and South Asia.
We can't expect to go on bombing and shooting up Iraq, or shredding Afghan villages with cluster bombs and 20mm gatling guns, and not expect violent reaction. The increasing deaths of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the ongoing agonies of Palestine, have enraged the Muslim world against the West.
Most Muslims simply complain. But a tiny number, as in Britain, forget rationality, humanity, or common sense and try to strike back at what they believe are the oppressors of the Muslin world.
Such violence is criminal and, worse, to paraphrase Tallyrand, a mistake. They undermine whatever cause the militants are fighting for, making them into criminals with no possible justifiable grievances. In the end, innocent Muslims in Britain and other Western nations become victims of these mindless attacks.
But revenge attacks will continue, and even intensify, until the West reassesses its policies in the regions that are generating such anti-Western violence.
Intensified police work is needed at home to prevent more attacks. Muslim leaders must keep telling their people that attacks against civilians are immoral and self-defeating.
But Western governments have to face the fact that the wars they are waging against the Muslim world are the primary generators of terrorism. In the intelligence business, it's called blowback.
Blaming every violent incident on the shadowy al-Qaida is a handy excuse for avoiding reality and responsibility.
But it won't change the fact that a good 20% of the world's population is increasingly enraged at the U.S., Britain and Australia.
And, now, Canada.
© 2007 The Toronto Sun