It’s never a good idea to assume that one’s opponents are all stupid. To wit, some neoconservatives are sophisticated enough to find a few trivial examples that supposedly invalidate the notion that Islamist terrorism is the result of Western racism in general and European racism in particular.
One prime example is Canada. Since Canada is supposedly the country where there is no discrimination against Muslims, it’s supposed to mean that terrorism doesn’t come from racism. A good example of this is the Anti-Defamation League’s quote-mining hatchet job, which among other things quoted the Canadian Security Intelligence Service as saying, “With the possible exception of the United States, there are more international terrorist organizations active in Canada than anywhere in the world.”
You can read the report this comes from here and see what I mean when I say “quote-mining hatchet job.” The two paragraphs preceding that sentence are,
Certainly, there are historical reasons why Canada has not been as vulnerable as other countries. We are not a superpower, we are generally seen as a moderate country, and our political system has done better than most to absorb and accommodate difference. In addition, the intelligence, law enforcement and security communities work in close cooperation, which makes it more difficult for terrorists to operate in this country.
Our borders are long and unique among developed countries – we have a common border with the United States, one of the world’s pre-eminent terrorist targets. Our openness and respect for human rights and freedoms make Canada an attractive place to live and do business, not just for the hundreds of thousands of legitimate immigrants who come here each year, but also for members of terrorist and criminal organizations. While the vast majority of immigrants and refugees have no greater priority than to be productive members of a peaceful and prosperous society, others slip through and are bent on using Canada as a base from which to support terrorist activities.
So despite what the Anti-Defamation League is trying to say, Canadian liberalism only mitigates Islamic terrorism, which in Canada is more about anti-American spillover than about hating freedom or whatever excuse neoconservatives come up with.
It’s significant to note that all examples of Islamic terrorist activity in Canada given in that report is from the 1990s. While the CSIS report notes that Islamist terrorism is the biggest terrorist problem in Canada, the groups it talks about have been waning for years. Hezbollah has been shifting from an international terrorist organization to an extremist political party with a small military wing for more than a decade; Hamas has seen a similar shift in the last two years; Al Qaida is effectively dead.
Islamist terrorism really proceeds from three causes: racism, anti-Americanism, and domestic conflicts; of these, only racism is relevant in a Western context. Racism breeds radicalization, especially when it involves systematic exclusion from society, for example in the form of unemployment. This radicalization tends to spill over even to people who are fairly well-off via the formation of identity politics – for example, third-world nationalist leaders tended to come from middle- or upper middle class backgrounds, and to curry the colonialist regime’s favor.
Anti-Americanism is what breeds Al Qaida, but that organization is increasingly irrelevant. Islamist terrorism is decidedly local; marginalized Muslims in Britain and France and the Netherlands might come to anti-Americanism, but only after being radicalized. In particular, there’s no evidence that any of the terrorist attacks Europe has had in the last three and a half years was the result of the Iraq War, which certainly caused an upsurge of anti-Americanism.
Domestic politics is the most dangerous form of Islamist terrorism, and also the least solvable. That’s what happens in crisis areas in the Middle East, especially but not only Iraq. Islamists hate leaders who are Muslims of convenience (before 2003, Saddam was their most hated figure); and, like all other extremists, they thrive on war, hence their proliferation in Iraq.
Incidentally, all of these exist to varying degrees in the West. The American militia movement is a prime example of ideological terrorism motivated by domestic politics (here, “ideological terrorism” should contrast with “nationalist terrorism” as practices by the LTTE, IRA, and Hamas). If it’s weaker than Jihadism, it’s because first-world countries tend to be better than third-world countries at both enforcing anti-terrorism laws and having socioeconomic systems that don’t breed radicalism.
In particular, Islamist terrorism in the West isn’t the result of excessive liberalism. If it were, Canada would be swarming with terrorism and so would the US, Britain would have much less terrorism, and Continental Europe would be almost entirely terrorism-free (when it comes to views of immigrants, this is indeed how liberal these countries are; I’m not talking about national views of, say, gay rights).
The best example of recent domestic Islamist terrorism in Canada that hawks can come up with is an arrest of 16 people that I can’t find documentation for on Google. In that light, it’s not difficult to see that in reality, the rank order of domestic Islamist terrorism problems in the West is almost the exact reverse of what it would be if liberalism toward immigrants were the culprit.