Could the terrorist attack on British Parliament be a cultural canary-in-the-coal-mine for us? Will the London attacker who repeatedly plunged a knife into a policeman guarding Westminster be celebrated by some Brits as a modern-day Guy Fawkes?
Who was Guy Fawkes? A British-born citizen nabbed while guarding gunpowder beneath the House of Lords, the intent being to assassinate King James I and restore a Catholic monarchy to the throne. Had his Gunpowder Plot of 1605—still commemorated in Britain every November 5th as Guy Fawkes Day — been successful, we would have been deprived of the 1607 colonization of Jamestown and the 1611 King James Version of the Bible.
While the four-centuries-old Guy Fawkes plot is observed in a light-hearted manner, virtually every terrorist attack today is celebrated somewhere, often in proportion to the number killed. Make no mistake, 9-11 was celebrated in pockets of anti-Americanism around the world and the hijackers hailed as martyred heroes. Because terrorists often spring from minority communities, our own American admiration of the victimized underdog can become twisted into a sick form of political correctness that cannot call a spade a spade.
Why did fellow soldiers not report Major Nidal Hasan when he lectured on the efficacy and merits of suicide bombing? When he was known to style himself as a Soldier of Allah? When he bought guns and ammunition as part of his own Gunpowder Plot? Evidently fear of a politically-correct backlash of Islamic phobia kept everyone silenced until Major Hasan triumphantly shouted “Allahu Ahkbar” and opened fire at Fort Hood, killing thirteen unarmed soldiers.
And even then, our government could not bring itself to label Major Hasan as a terrorist, his shooting spree being but a case of “workplace violence.” You know, going postal. Aggravated with his boss. When we can’t see the nose on our face because we won’t look in the mirror, the PC epidemic has run amok.
It’s more than obvious that large immigrant communities that are not assimilated into a country’s cultural traditions can become a breeding ground for terrorists, often native-born second- and third-generation young males who feel justified in taking violent revenge for their community’s isolation, unemployment, and poverty. Yes, I can understand that, but compassionate “understanding” can metastasize into excusing violent excesses—see recent riots and rough treatment of guest speakers at Berkeley and Middlebury College as well as the attacks in London, Paris, and Brussels.
I’m familiar with attacks on Parliament. When my family of five visited there in 1979, I clearly recall walking past the gaping hole which was simply the entrance to an underground garage under Westminster. Shades of Guy Fawkes. A week later a Member of Parliament, Airey Neave, a war hero and close confidant of Margaret Thatcher who was tabbed to be her Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, was blown to bits by an Irish terrorist car-bomb fitted with a tilt switch that activates the bomb when the car drives uphill. Airey Neave had to drive uphill to exit the underground garage at Westminster. Boom!! One less staunch opponent of Irish terrorism — in Britain.
On one of my eight trips to London and Belfast to study, teach, and write about the Irish Troubles, I was hosted at Westminster by an MP named Ian Gow. Several years later Ian turned the ignition key on his car; he died instantly from an IRA car bomb. A lesser fate awaited the wife of one of my Belfast friends — she had her legs removed by another IRA car bomb when she started her car to drive to work. This is how ugly terrorism can get — nay, worse, when people are tortured and decapitated.
Terrorism, whether home-grown or imported, has not yet — and hopefully won’t — become an epidemic in our country. But when you see Sharia courts proliferate in Britain and no honest efforts made to integrate immigrant communities into a country’s culture, conditions are created for disobeying the law as well as lethal terrorism. Diversity and multi-culturalism are wonderful — up to the point where people in a country utterly reject that country’s right to rule and attack it with knives, bombs, bullets, and destabilizing vital infrastructure with the newest weapon of cyber warfare. Welcome to America — but please love our country and follow our rules.
James F. Burns is a retired professor at the University of Florida.