“Is it because of western racism that al-Qaida has included the United Nations among its principal targets?” William Shawcross demands to know, in a letter in the Guardian. “Is it because of western racism that in August 2003 an al-Qaida suicide bomber murdered more than 20 people in the UN headquarters in Baghdad, including the secretary general’s special representative, Sergio Vieira de Mello? … Al-Qaida exulted in the murder of this ‘heretic’ sent to Iraq by Kofi Annan, ‘the criminal and slave of America’. Al-Qaida is inspired by Islamofascism, which cannot be appeased. No one is helped by pretending otherwise.”
Rather, no one is helped by pretending that the atrocities carried out by the likes of Al-Qaida do not have a basis in a quite rational hatred of the West’s own atrocities. Bin Laden repeatedly condemned the deaths of innocent Iraqis resulting from UN sanctions imposed at the behest of the USA. As for western racism, would the killing of hundreds of thousands of children have been regarded as a price worth paying – to quote Madeleine Albright’s notorious remark – if those children had been white Americans or Europeans?