29 March 2010

A Question about Terrorism in Russia

Most observers (apart, I suppose, from Russia's own "truthers") are attributing today's lethal subway blasts in Moscow to Muslim terrorists. That begs a question that should come up whenever Muslims or Islamists strike at Russia.

Do Muslims hate their freedom, too?

Russian freedom? But doesn't the American media tell us (and not without some justice) that Russia under Putin and Medvedev is not free?

In fact, most informed Americans will concede (or else assume) that Russia is oppressing Muslims in Chechnya. At the very least, they'd allow that Chechens have cause to believe that Russia is oppressing them, if only because Russia happens to control Chechnya. It wouldn't take much mental effort to draw some connection between what Russia does in Chechnya and what happened in Moscow. It's an effort many Americans still refuse to make, and are still discouraged from making, when the subject shifts to the role of the United States in the Middle East and its growing role on the Afghan-Pakistan frontier. Many Muslims may see the U.S. and Russia in much the same way, but we're reluctant to accept that they lash out against both countries from the same motive -- unless we assume the most outlandish motive of forcing us all into a global Caliphate.

If Putin or Medvedev were to say today that the Moscow attacks took place because the perpetrators hated freedom, most Americans would probably laugh. But they wouldn't like it if people laughed when they told the joke. In itself, that's pretty funny, in a sad way.

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