So it is with the Woolwich killing, which British officials have lined up to denounce. Yes it is sickening. Of course it is barbaric. But what of it? Even all these years after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2011, our societies remain unfit for purpose in facing up to—and facing down—Islamic extremism.

Too many still seek refuge in ignorance and denial that was so memorably displayed by U.S. officials after the Fort Hood shooting in 2009. A man who was a member of the American armed forces, Maj. Nidal Hasan, gunned down his colleagues while shouting “Allahu akbar.” On that occasion the American government, like the French government before it and the British government this week, decided to focus on everything about the attack other than what really mattered: the motive. Fort Hood was put down to a case of workplace violence. …

Most of the extremists who have repeatedly expressed their hatred of British soldiers are themselves supported by the British state. A prominent hate-preacher—Anjem Choudary, a leader of the disbanded al Muhajiroun—was even caught on video earlier this year extolling Britain’s “jihad-seekers’ allowance.” As he explained to his followers, “The normal situation, really, is to take money from the kafir”—a slur for non-Muslims. “Allahu akbar. We take the money.”