Red Herring

Red herrings

As published in Ottawa Citizen January 5, 2011

The subheadline on this Robert Sibley op-ed states that, "The root causes of Islamic terrorism do not lie in poverty or western imperialism, but an age old conflict between reason and revelation." I wonder how Sibley would feel if Middle Eastern spies, military forces and oil companies had spent the last 100 years running roughshod over the land and peoples of what he calls "The West," particularly the oil-rich sections of Canada. Perhaps he and his ancestors might have taken up arms to resist such abuse. Instead, he offers the red herring of classical Islamic philosophy.
There is some recent evidence to indicate that the Muslim world does not hate the U.S. (and the West by extension) for cultural reasons, but instead deeply resents U.S. interference in issues such as the endless Palestinian/ Israeli conflict. Israel's recent decision to extend "for six months a ban preventing Palestinians married to Israelis to immigrate to the Jewish state ..." (as reported in the Citizen on Jan. 3) fuels anti-Israel accusations of apartheid-tinged racism. In 2007, political scientists Peter Furia and Russell Lucas found "no evidence that ordinary Arabs resent countries for what they are, and considerable evidence that they resent them for what they do." (As reported in the Citizen on July 31, 2008.)
Sibley's second red herring posits the impossibility that, "If only the West would apologize, make reparations, abandon Israel, leave the Middle East and Afghanistan, all would be well." Elements of this all-or-nothing declaration are worth considering both individually and in combination, with the exception of abandoning Israel, which Sibley seems to have tossed into the mix like indelible dye in a bank deposit bag.
Morgan Duchesney, Ottawa