Thursday, September 04, 2003


Blaming the . . . – Islamofascists and moral agency

Notoriously, Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Bashir blames “the Jews” for the Bali terrorist bombing. In some formulations, Bashir appears to jointly blame “the Jews” and the USA, but, as he makes plain here, the latter is merely longhand for the former, as far as he’s concerned.

Fair enough perhaps, Bashir is simply a man of the cloth, and perversion – in thought and/or deed – among Australian and other Western Christian/Catholic men of the cloth has been distressingly common in recent decades. However, where other clerics get off (when it comes to their sexual appetites, their faith, and sometimes too, the judicial process), Bashir straps himself into his faith and denies almost everything – and that which he can’t point-blank deny, he outsources the blame for. Claiming a kind of indemnity from personal moral agency is a curious position for a cleric to be taking, if you ask me.

Closer to home, last night’s 7.30 Report interviewed a Melbourne Muslim cleric, who – disturbingly – played an almost identical game to Bashir: denying almost all, up to or beyond the point of plausibility, and then spicing up the mix with outsourced blame. I found this all the more disturbing because the Melbourne cleric wasn’t being accused of anything criminal. Nonetheless, when asked about his friendship with an alleged terrorist currently held awaiting trial in the UK, the cleric couldn’t help but point out that, given this person had received a visa to enter Australia some years ago, the Australian government was to blame.

Blame for what, you well may ask. When “blame” is thrown around so loosely and liberally as to lose any rational nexus with the original act, the blame-thrower is psychopathic – and axiomatically so.

To return to what I just said , but from a different direction, consider the neat match between Islamic clerical morality-shirking and the ir-responsibility of Islamofascist terrorism in contrast to “traditional” political terrorism, as best typified by the IRA’s responsibility-claiming “codes”.

Of course, clerics in general should not be expected to live 24/7 on some kind of spot-lit moral pedestal, above the rest of humanity. However, given that no one – lesser than Osama Bin Laden, but greater than a rep from the plethora of GenX suicide squads* – has ever (as far as I’m aware) taken responsibility for an act of Islamofascist terrorism, the moral vacuum in the middle is hard not to notice. And as for “spiritual leaders” like Bashir –the “spiritual” aspect is almost beside the point; a much more compelling indictment against Bashir is that he is a leader manqué at best; an individual whose idea of moral agency is looking to the mob for inspiration – or if not, absolution.

* In this context, “splinter group” now has a macabre secondary meaning

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