Unsurprisingly, the reaction to yesterdays violent murder in Woolwich has been vast and quick to emerge. One main discussion has emerged from this: should the event be blamed on immigration or religion? Or, alternatively, are we just looking at another violent attack – the type of which happens several times a year?
Before any analysis takes place, we have to put the emphasis on rationality and evidence. This is not to devalue our strong emotional reactions to the crime, but rather to ensure that we don’t react inappropriately. To react irrationally would be to encourage such crimes happening again – we need solutions and genuine progress, so emotion alone will not do.
We must also admit that we know few of the details as yet. At best our early reactions are guided by general principles, so we must reserve judgement in some areas whilst only reacting in ways which do justice to the victims family and those of potential victims in the future.
Which is the problem, immigration or religion?
We should first note that the two are partly connected. Immigration can lead to an influx in new fundamentalist religious principles Whilst religion and terrorism also connect by virtue of most terrorism being religiously based; despite the words of moderate religious people and MPs everywhere, the holy books of the various religions do justify the killing of innocents outside of the religion. This is true, at least, in Islam and Christianity – the two relevant religions in this story (Christianity being the default British religion, Islam being the supposed religion of the attackers). To ignore this is to play literary games with the meaning of very clear verses in either book.
So does it make sense to blame immigration? Would tightening immigration solve the problem? There’s little evidence to support this assertion. Indeed we know that previous UK based terror plans, and previous religious violence, has occurred from the hands of British born people. This should be no surprise. No civilisation originated in the UK, we are all evolved from African ancestors. So it would be strange that dangerous religious rules would only originate outside the country, given that religion is fairly popular within it and all humans are wired in more or less the same way. There’s little evidence to suggest that building invisible walls around the UK would remove terrorism from our shores.
So why the outcry about immigration? Put simply, we have correlated that people who look a certain way (people of non-white descent) tend to be involved in the terrorist crime we see. As humans we naturally err toward spotting these patterns, regardless of whether they are causally related. The truth, though, is that the race or nationality of people do not cause these terrorist views, religions do. The Bible and The Quran both justify the deaths of innocents, and as raw guides for someone’s sincere beliefs, they undoubtedly cause violent problems around the world. Britain has become largely secular, so we see far less religious extremism from Christians, however Islam still thrives in many non-secular states. As a result, people born in these states are more likely to be engaged in terrorist groups, so we have uncovered the reason why people of non-white descent often cause terrorist problems. It is not caused by race, but religion.
This does not justify anti-immigration arguments, just as it doesn’t justify racism. There are white British Muslims, there are white British Christians, and all of these people hold the same basic meta-physical beliefs which led directly to terrorism in various circumstances over the last decades. These seeds flower into terrorism more often in non-secular countries, of course, but in my opinion there is every reason to believe that blanket immigration bans (which is the only way to guarantee no future terrorists enter the country) will lead to British nationals taking up the cause of Jihad instead. The most infamous British terror attack was in fact committed by British nationals.
Terrorism or Religion?
The difference between religious violence and terrorism, assumedly, is that when Christians bomb abortion clinics, or picket the funerals of dead soldiers, this is not called terrorism as it often involves white people. The logic and intent is the same but we judge the action differently due to the look of the aggressor involved. In countries which see themselves as ‘white’ countries, other white people are perhaps not terrifying.
This point is, of course, largely irrelevant when it comes to preventing future attacks; it doesn’t matter what we call it, even if it is an interesting side note about our bias. What matters is that we don’t aim our hostility toward people of certain races – this is irrational. We also shouldn’t fall into the arms of irrational political parties, especially those that couldn’t even run a country in theory, simply because we are scared of terrorists flooding into the UK. British nationals have been involved in terrorist activity before, and likely will be again.
It is important that we aim at progress though, which involves pointing out the role of religion. These dusty old books, if taken at face value, justify atrocious actions. So we can no longer deem unquestioned ‘faith’ to be the preserve of good people if we want to prevent terrorist attacks. The Woolwich murderers did not utter ‘End the recession’ or ‘Kill the British people’, they said ‘Allah Akbar’ which translates as ‘God is great’. We could ignore the idea of Jihad, and the sincere statements of people who happily risk their lives and their freedom for their religious views, but to do so is ignoring the source of the problem. This is not a problem of race or nationality, or of economic social problems. It’s a problem of religion. We shouldn’t shy away from pointing this out when innocent people are at risk, and it is also not ‘Islamophobic’ to do so. All religions cause these problems, it is simply the modern world where Islam happens to cause them more so.