An assassination in Pakistan: What exactly are the jihadis’ “grievances”?

This is only one of the many things that go to make up the hideousness of Islamic jihadism, but I believe that it has received insufficient attention. Amid all our loose talk about Muslim “grievances,” have we even noticed that no such bill of grievances has ever been published, let alone argued and defended? Every now and then an excuse is offered, but usually after the bomb has gone off in the crowded street or the “offending” person has been eliminated. Sérgio Vieira de Mello was murdered, and the U.N. offices in Baghdad leveled along with him, because he had helped oversee the independence of East Timor. Many Australian tourists in Bali were burned alive on the same retrospective pretext. Or it could be a cartoon. Or an unveiled woman. Or the practice of the “wrong” kind of Islam—Ahmadi, for example, or Shiism. Or the practice of Hinduism. Or the publication of a novel. But the sinister, hateful thing about all these discrepant “causes” is precisely the fact that they are improvised and to a large extent unpredictable. That, and the fact that no effort is ever made to say precisely why the resort to violence is so immediate and its practice so random and indiscriminate…

Go back to the first days of the coalition presence in Baghdad. The Iraqi people had not been directly consulted about anything for several decades. But the new authorities promised a constitution and elections, and they unshackled the press and television. Might it not have been interesting to see what happened? To test this promise and, where it was wanting, to demonstrate against it and petition for the redress of grievance? The population never had a chance to try this novelty. It was a matter of days before experienced killers and bombers were hard at work, without so much as a leaflet being distributed. And our own willingness to rationalize such behavior on the part of Muslims allowed us to call professional assassins by the name of insurgent and to write that they were defending “Muslim soil.” For no obvious reason, we don’t seem to say this yet in the case of Mumtaz Qadri, but he could say it of himself and, according to his faith, that’s all that he needs to do.