The likeness of those who take protectors other than Allah is like that of the spider, who takes unto itself a house; but truly the frailest of all houses is the spider’s house — Al Ankabut 29th Sura, The Koran
The dedicated proponents of the anti -Zionist cause in Palestine, Lebanon and across the Middle East have over the last two decades carefully exploited mainstream media outlets such as Sky News, the BBC and CNN, those media organs’ studied neutrality, and the fear of being labelled “Islamophobic”. As Abu Bakr Naji’s definitive guide to the management of savagery maintained, the Islamist cause must never overlook the importance of ‘political work’ while also understanding the West’s ‘political game’. The spider’s house of the West is fragile and can fragment. The Management of Savagery thus distinguishes between military strategy and media strategy while planning for the effects of these strategies, as in the wake of a successful attack like the recent barbarous assault on Israel. In particular, the Islamist agenda exploits the West’s open borders, sympathetic media and multicultural tolerance to advance, pro-Palestine and pro-Islamist causes. Sympathetic fifth columnists infiltrate the army, police, civil institutions and, in particular, the media and secondary and tertiary educational institutions. The media and higher education’s woke embrace of the non-Western ‘other’ render them particularly congenial to pro-Palestinian and antisemitic manipulation.
Thus as events in Israel and Gaza unfold, an all too predictable narrative begins to take shape on what Bernard Henri Levy termed the “zombie Left”. Almost as soon as news of the operation occurred, BBC World News trotted out an expert from Chatham House who deplored the Islamist attack but nevertheless contended Israel’s treatment of Palestine and the desperation of its inhabitants apparently left them with little alternative but ‘resistance’. The BBC, of course, eschews the use of the pejorative ‘terror’ to describe the savagery Hamas unleashed. In the ensuing days it became something of a trope in the West’s mainstream media and eleemosynary institutions to opt for moral equivocation and a specious relativism. The attack, soi-disant experts opined, had little to do with ideology; rather, it demonstrated, perhaps too brutally, a necessary reaction to Israeli oppression which the West had for too long duplicitously condoned. Demonstrators immediately appeared outside the Israeli embassy in London chanting ‘Allahu Akbar’. The Scottish National Party refused to raise an Israeli flag outside the Scottish Assembly in Edinburgh. In Sydney a gathering outside the Opera House chanted ‘Gas the Jews’. Meanwhile across the Pacific, more than 30 student organizations at Harvard University endorsed a letter shamelessly blaming Israel for the attacks.
We should recall that before critical race theory there was critical terror theory — a perverse form of deconstruction that found the West, its colonialism, orientalism and Islamophobia responsible for all the problems in the post-Cold War order. This particular species of Western self-loathing first came to the fore in the aftermath of 9/11, but assumed prominence following the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Over two decades it has undermined any objective study of terrorism on Western campuses from Aberystwyth in Wales to Queensland in Australia, taking in Harvard on the way. Sedulously promoted across the Anglosphere as a fashionably progressive take on terror that empathises with the misunderstood resistance of the non-West, critical terror theory now permeates not only academe but the mainstream media journalists trained in its discipline over the past twenty years.
Thus from its first appearance in April 2008, the journal Critical Studies on Terrorism announced its intention to reverse the conventional perception of terrorism and the methodology of terrorism research. As the editors, who went on to dominate the field of terror research in the UK and Australia over the next decade, put it
acts of clandestine non-state terrorism are committed by a tiny number of individuals and result in between a few hundred and a few thousand casualties per year over the entire world (original emphasis).
Accordingly, the US and its allies’ preoccupation with terrorism must be disproportionate to its effects. At the same time, the more pervasive and repressive terror attributed to the West and the US in particular has been “silenced from public and . . . academic discourse”. The complicity of conventional studies of terror and political violence with the allegedly authoritarian demands of Western state practice, together with the moral and political blindness of established historical analysis to this relationship forms the critical theorists’ overriding assumption and one that its core proponents who now dominate this field of pseudo-academic endeavour repeated ad nauseam over the next decade.
Since 2008 successive generations of undergraduates taking courses in terrorism and political violence have been inculcated in morally deracinating ethical relativism posturing as emancipation. As as one of its leading advocates explained:
…the gap between those who hate terrorism and those who carry it out, those who seek to delegitimize the acts of terrorists and those who incite them, and those who abjure terror and those who glorify it—is not as great as is implied or asserted by orthodox terrorism experts, the discourse of governments, or the popular press.
The gap “between us/them is a slippery slope, not an unbridgeable political and ethical chasm”. Thus, while “terrorist actions” might be in some sense ‘wrong’ they nevertheless “might be contingently excusable”.  From this ultimately demented perspective, gang-raping a defenceless woman or beheading a baby is wrong, it would seem, but potentially excusable.
Critical theory, then, embraces relativism not only toward language but also toward social action. Relativism and the bizarre ethics it engenders in its attempt to empathise with ‘the other’ can only lead to the moral confusion on display nightly on the mainstream news channels’ coverage of Palestine. As Leo Strauss classically inquired of this relativist tendency in the social sciences, “is such an understanding dependent upon our own commitment or independent of it?” As Strauss explains, the value-neutral expert goes through the process of empathetic understanding in order to reach clarity about commitment, ‘for only a part of me is engaged in my empathetic understanding’. This means, however, that “such understanding is not serious or genuine but histrionic.”
This histrionic viewpoint wonderfully suits the needs of those who wish to weaken secular democracy and support those like Hamas or various Islamic front organisations that adapt it to the purpose of managing savagery. Given its progressive attachments, the Western liberal media and a self-loathing academe proved eminently amenable to this latest ideological endeavour to make ‘lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind’. The mainstream media, allied to the wider progressive concern, has proven particularly helpful in disseminating this relativist perspective on the recent atrocity in Israel.
By endorsing such moral relativism, the purportedly neutral media failed to discriminate between a democratic opinion and a totalitarian practice. More worrying still, it is often only the apologists for politically motivated violence that are permitted a voice in the ethically responsible, progressive Western press.
As it evolved after 2003, a progressive academic, media and political orthodoxy came to absolve jihadists — Hamas most recently — of responsibility for their actions, blaming instead contingent factors like colonialism, racism, poverty or, after a series of lone actor attacks across Europe between 2015-17, madness generated by the anomie the perpetrator/ victim experienced in his Western isolation. In this manner, the progressive mind came rationally to explain the murderous action, whilst at the same time empathising with it. In the process, it chose to ignore the somewhat inconvenient fact that most terrorists did not turn to violence because of poverty, but out of choice and for politically religious reasons. Self-censorship, allied to an anti-secular relativism, reinforces religious and cultural taboos, making it increasingly impossible to offer any criticism of a minority identity (except, of course, Christians, Jews or white males) that could give offence and might even be considered ‘hate speech’.
In this increasingly polarised environment, where to criticise Palestine or support Israel evokes the very real possibility of violence, secular liberal multiculturalists should perhaps attend to the thinking of a philosopher who understood the necessary conditions for maintaining an open society against its enemies. Karl Popper, a refugee from the Third Reich death cult, identified the liberal paradox that, ‘unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance’. In fact, he argued, that
If we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.
Popper further contended that we need not ‘suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion’. Yet as Popper foresaw, ‘it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument’, but begin, as do Islamists and their woke sympathisers, by denouncing all argument. They may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument because it is ‘deceptive’, and teach them instead to answer arguments with violence. In this context, Popper would advise that a pluralist democracy must claim ‘in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant’. Indeed, a political democracy characterised by deep pluralism that does not comprehend this paradox cannot long survive.
Living in Morocco in 1952, American novelist Paul Bowles wrote
I don’t think we’re likely to get to know the Moslems very well, and I suspect that if we should, we’d find them less sympathetic than we do at present. And I suspect the same applies to their getting to know us.
Bowles’ prescient insight is on display daily in West London and Western Sydney.
 Abu Bakr Naji (trans William McCant) The Management of Savagery: The Most Critical Stage Through Which the Umma Will Pass Harvard, Harvard University Press, 2006
 The editors (2008) Critical Studies on Terrorism 1,1 p.1
 Ken Booth ‘The Human face of Terror’, Critical Studies on Terrorism, 1, 1, p.66
 George Orwell, ‘Politics and the English Language’, in Essays, London, Penguin 2000 p.137.
 See Karl Popper, The Open Society and its Enemies vol. 2. London, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 2 vols. 1962, p.302.