I was very frustrated this morning to hear an Imam on television talking about his anger at the phrase "Islamic terrorism." His point was that terrorism is always a response to the political situation in the Middle East rather than a man's personal religion. Obviously I have a degree of sympathy for what he's saying - we mustn't tar everyone with the same brush - but, at the same time, religious leaders within the Muslim community can't completely wash their hands of responsibility for what is going on within their own religious community. The fact remains that, whether these people are nutty or not, and whether their actions are triggered by world politics, the terrorists doing these deeds are linked by an interest in Islam. It's an unavoidable fact. You can blame the West intervening in Iraq and Afghanistan as much as you like but there is something implicit, or at least something which can be interpreted as implicit within the Muslim faith which justifies violence being committed against those who don't share the same beliefs.
I think if there's one general problem with Western Liberalism, it's that we tend to excuse or justify dreadful behaviour in our rush to find a reason for why it's happening. The "Hug a Hoodie" campaign was probably the most extreme and tragic example of this particular tendency. I personally believe that bad behaviour is bad behaviour. There's always an excuse. Actually, the fact is that some people are just nasty.
Bizarrely, it strikes me that one of the only communities which regularly finds itself criticised without anyone feeling the need to view its members' behaviour through a wider lens is the Jewish community. No discussion about the Jewish people in the UK seems to be complete without some sort of Israel-bashing. If we're not allowed to blanket criticise all Muslims, we certainly shouldn't presume that all Jewish people are somehow implicit in the decisions the leaders of Israel make.
What I would say is that if all of England's annexed neighbours - Scotland and Wales etc - were vowing to wipe us off the face of the earth, whilst the rest of our neighbours were different shades of hostile or indifferent, I think we'd probably be behaving a little bit more aggressively ourselves.
I spent the day in a single cafe today. It was heavenly. The sun was shining and warming my neck. The sea breeze was blowing. I got all the work done that I needed to do. Brighton is certainly a good place to visit if you need to knuckle down and do a bit of work.