Statement from the group claiming responsibility for the unspeakably despicable attacks in London today:
“Rejoice, Islamic nation. Rejoice, Arab world. The time has come for vengeance against the Zionist crusader government of Britain in response to the massacres Britain committed in Iraq and Afghanistan,”
“the heroic mujahedeen carried out a blessed attack in London, and now Britain is burning with fear and terror, from north to south, east to west.”
“We warned the British government and the British people repeatedly. We have carried out our promise and carried out a military attack in Britain after great efforts by the heroic mujahedeen over a long period to ensure its success.”
“We continue to warn the governments of Denmark and Italy and all crusader governments that they will receive the same punishment if they do not withdraw their troops from Iraq and Afghanistan”
from Yahoo News
Reports indicate that at least one of the explosions was a suicide bomber, although as investigators have more time, that report could change.
Back in September of 2001 a British member of an email list I was on asked, “When all the people in the Middle East have food on the table, a decent home, a good job, and democratic control over their own lives, who among them is going to be convinced to sacrifice his life by crashing himself into a tall office building?”
This is my reply:
“The same ones who already were convinced to do this very thing.
All the terrorists in this attack [the American 9/11 attack, although I am quite sure the same is true for the terrorists in London today] had food on the table, decent homes in nice neighborhoods (several lived in gated communities) and jobs.
Since they were in this country they had democratic control of their own lives. It didn’t stop them. Osama Bin Ladin had all of them as well, and he chose to leave the country where he had them and live the life of a terrorist instead.
It is, I believe, a serious fallacy to believe that if all human beings just had these simple things, then there would be no war, no crime. It is also an erroneous view of human nature. Some people want raw power. Some are not satisfied with food on the table, they want control of food on everybody’s table, or they want stockpiles of food and other resources. Selfishness, greed, lust for power- these are
very real parts of human nature and they motivate some people more than others, and no amount of wishing otherwise will change it.”
It is incredibly ironic to me that the people claiming to be part of the ‘reality based community’ are the same people who think that if everybody just had enough food, clothing, and shelter and democratic freedom, then nobody would do vile things. People are not cows.
I saw a special a few years ago about studies one how ordinary people make choices and statements that they _know_ are wrong, even to the point of harming another human being.
I can’t remember what program this was, I’m hoping somebody else can tell me more about it.
The special began with a fairly simple, seemingly benign experiment where a group of people were shown two lines and simply asked to say which was longer. However, the study was set up so that only one person in the group was really being studied. The other members of the group were all clued in to give a wrong answer every time.
They repeated the experiment with a different person several times. In all but one case it only took a few times before the subject was agreeing with the rest of the group that a two inch line was longer than a six inch!
As a side note, it was fascinating to see that the one person who stuck to her guns was an Asian girl, very good student, very much what my brother the artist would call a conformist, while the man who was quickest to jump ship and deny the evidence of his own eyes in order to fit in, was, by his own self-description, an artist, free
thinker and non-conformist. It’s not the first time that I’ve thought that nonconformists are actually some of the most group-think oriented people I’ve ever seen, but it was the first time I’ve watched it happen in a scientific study.
From there the program took a nasty turn, telling viewers about a horribly fascinating experiment done after WWII. The goal was to see if it was really the bad conditions in Germany that led people to turn a blind eye to the horrendous treatment of Jews, or even to participate in it, or if even healthy, well nourished middle class Americans might be brought to do the same thing.
They set up this box thing, attached official looking wires and electrodes all over the supposed subject’s body (really he was one of the scientists), then told the real subject of the experiment (who didn’t know he was the subject, he thought he was just helping out) that a scientist would ask the person in the box questions, and for every wrong answer, this person was supposed to turn on a switch that would jolt the other guy with an electric shock. They filmed the experiments, and this television program showed the results.
What happened was incredibly sickening. Subject after subject continued to blast the person in the box with what they believed were horribly painful levels of electricity. The man in the box would begin screaming that he had a heart condition, begging them to stop, and the person at the switch would look nervously at the scientist in his white jacket, and continue to increase the voltage- even after all screams in the box had stopped and the person operating the switch could only presume the other guy was dead or unconscious.
The people at the switch would look worried, sweat, bite their lips- but continued to apply what they thought were dangerous levels of electricity because they were told to.
Later these experiments were stopped as the scientists began to have concerns about the ethics of what they might be doing to the subjects. Updated Note: These were The Milgram Experiments, and I blogged about them again here.
Clearly, man will do evil things to other men for reasons that have little to do with lack of material comforts and everything to do with one’s individual value system. And when you add to that kink in human nature a strongly held value system that says that if you die in the process of murdering others, you go straight to heaven where you will be fed luscious food and be attended by 70 virgins, then all
the material freedoms and democratic freedom in the world isn’t going to protect innocent people from dying at the hands of those evil people.