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The Real Lesson of Amman By: Karina Rollins
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Jordanians’ response to the ghastly hotel suicide bombings in Amman is refreshing: They are  blaming terrorists for terrorist attacks. Filled with righteous rage, they flooded the streets of their capital, calling for the head of the man who planned the attacks. “Barbaric and subhuman,”  Jordan’s ambassador to the U.S. Karim Kawar denounced the bombings. While such reactions may seem obvious and fitting, they are not the case throughout much of the world.

Just think of Americans’ behavior after September 11, 2001, the biggest and most heinous terror  attack the world has ever seen. Americans assembled for hushed candle-light vigils and moments of silence; they gathered not to condemn the terrorists, but to urge the American government to refrain from revenge. Americans flew flags from their windows, but were vilified by fellow citizens for doing so. When they did get angry and take to the streets, it was to carry signs proclaiming that “Bush knew.” Millions of Americans explicitly did not blame the terrorists for the terrorists’ actions.

When Islamic terrorists blew up commuter trains in Madrid last year, killing 191 people, Spaniards reacted with grief and anguish, but very little rage toward the perpetrators. The Spanish people’s biggest statement against this terror? To vote out their U.S.-backing government, in accordance with the terrorists’ wishes.


In fact, few Islamist terror attacks—whether 9/11, Madrid, the Bali nightclub bombings, or the London bus and subway blasts—have led people to take to the streets to denounce the terrorists. Always there is talk of “strength” and “resolve” and “getting on with our lives” and, of course, of addressing the “root causes.” When it comes to Israel, where men, women, and children are regularly blown to bits by Palestinian suicide bombers, much of the world is united in assigning blame to the victims, not their assassins.


Regardless of who has been massacred, rarely has rigorous, steadfast, and full blame been assigned to the murderers and their sponsors.


Even the tough-on-terror President of the United States, the number one terror target on the planet, spends more time lecturing Americans about how “Islam is a religion of peace,” than illustrating the constant and mounting threat of attacks that could dwarf the horrors of 9/11.


While the harshest condemnation that President Bush could conjure up about the 9/11 plotters was the underwhelming “evildoers,” Jordan’s King Abdullah promised the beasts behind the Amman bombings that he would “pull them from their holes” and assured the world that Jordanians “get mad and get even.”


In the West, no matter how monstrously we are attacked, our main priority is not to stop those trying to destroy us, but to avoid calling barbaric subhuman killers, barbaric subhuman killers. Just imagine if an American official were to make such a statement.


What a relief, then, to see the Jordanians rise up against such slaughter—no flaccid stoicism for them. “Burn in hell, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi!” they shouted, blaring car horns and waving flags.


Of course, the same Jordanians clamoring for Zarqawi’s head because he spilled innocent blood have famously been silent about the continual spilling of innocent Israeli blood, referring instead only to the purported injustice suffered by the Palestinians, who now make up about 60 percent of Jordan’s population.


The same Jordanians who believe that “Death to Zarqawi!” is the appropriate response to the deaths of more than 50 innocent Jordanians, have been unperturbed by their fellow countryman’s success at blowing hundreds upon hundreds of innocent Iraqis to smithereens. An NPR reporter, interviewing the protesting crowds, recounted that the prevailing mood among the demonstrators was that if the terrorists want to wage such a war, they should do so in Israel or Iraq, but stay out of Jordan.


“These are criminal and terrorist acts which no Muslim can accept and which go against our religion,” proclaimed Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood—an organization known for its refusal to condemn such attacks in Israel. The blasts are a “crime against humanity,” railed Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas, a man who downplays suicide bombings when carried out by his own people.


“We condemn these criminal actions that target innocent people,” said none other than a spokesman for Hamas, one of the world’s leading terror groups—lacking, apparently, any sense of irony. 


Queen Noor, widow of Jordan’s previous ruler, explained to CNN why she thinks the terrorists “made a significant tactical error here”—“because they have attacked innocent civilians, primarily Muslims.” As if this was a new development and all other al-Qaeda atrocities had targeted guilty non-civilians. As if the scores of Iraqis murdered by al-Qaeda supporters every week aren’t Muslim.


Yet, no matter how odious such sentiments may be, there is an important lesson for the West to learn: See how some people react when their own are slaughtered? That’s how we should be acting.


Though unappealingly selective in their outrage, Jordanians and Palestinians had the correct reaction to the three bombings. The people who carried out and planned these attacks are barbaric and subhuman, not oppressed and misunderstood; the four people who walked into the hotels strapped with explosives are terrorists, not rebels or freedom fighters; the way to deal with unyielding killing-machines is to fight them, not appease them.


During one of the protests in Amman, a young woman appeared, her face painted in the colors of the Jordanian flag, hoisting a huge sign that read “JORDAN’S 9/11.” Well, not quite. But her hyperbole, and that of other Jordanians and Palestinians, is a far more appropriate response to barbaric slaughter by subhuman killers that the sniveling passivity we display here at home.


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Karina Rollins is a writer in Washington, D.C.

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