In a column lamenting last week's assassination of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, writer Christopher Hitchens captures the floating grievances and arbitrary violence that fuels Islamist terrorism:
"Now look at the grinning face of Mumtaz Qadri, the man who last week destroyed a great human being. He did not explain. He boasted. As 'a slave of the Prophet,' he had the natural right to murder Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab, not even for committing 'blasphemy' but for criticizing a law that forbade it for Muslims and non-Muslims alike. And this sweeping new extension of the divine right to murder not only was not condemned by the country's spiritual authorities; it was largely approved by them. No argument, no arraignment, no appeal—permission to kill anybody can merely be assumed by anybody, provided only that they mouth the correct incantations.
This is only one of the many things that go to make up the hideousness of Islamic jihadism, but I believe that it has received insufficient attention. Amid all our loose talk about Muslim 'grievances,' have we even noticed that no such bill of grievances has ever been published, let alone argued and defended? Every now and then an excuse is offered, but usually after the bomb has gone off in the crowded street or the 'offending' person has been eliminated. Sérgio Vieira de Mello was murdered, and the U.N. offices in Baghdad leveled along with him, because he had helped oversee the independence of East Timor. Many Australian tourists in Bali were burned alive on the same retrospective pretext. Or it could be a cartoon. Or an unveiled woman. Or the practice of the 'wrong' kind of Islam—Ahmadi, for example, or Shiism. Or the practice of Hinduism. Or the publication of a novel. But the sinister, hateful thing about all these discrepant 'causes' is precisely the fact that they are improvised and to a large extent unpredictable. That, and the fact that no effort is ever made to say precisely why the resort to violence is so immediate and its practice so random and indiscriminate.
It is true that we have Osama Bin Laden's sermons and a few stray documents like the 'charter' of Hamas. But none of these amounts to anything like a manifesto or an appeal to conscience or law or precedent. Aside from an obsessive and homicidal anti-Semitism (something that admittedly is a consistent and predictable theme), they appear to say little more than that unique privileges—including the right to immediate self-appointment as an executioner—attach to the followers of one version of one monotheistic religion."
Read the full Hitchens column at Slate's website.