Extremism: a conversation worth having

14th June 2013 at 01:00

Is Stan Labovitch ("Be careful not to 'explain' terrorism", Letters, 7 June) really incapable of distinguishing between attempts to gauge motives for terrorist acts and efforts to condone or justify those acts? This is a fairly elementary distinction and also a critical one, because without some grasp of perpetrators' motives, it seems unlikely that we will ever be able to effectively anticipate, deter or prevent such atrocities.

As for the "leftist anti-Western agenda" he claims to detect in attempts to relate terrorist acts to British and US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, it seems that the UK security services must themselves share such an agenda, since they are on record as making that link. What precisely is an "anti-Western agenda"? Might it mean criticism of governments that have flouted international law in their attacks on sovereign states, or support for the millions of Western citizens who have campaigned against these policies? In fact, as the late US senator Joseph McCarthy understood very well, if acted on, such a fatuous comment would simply outlaw discussion or criticism of the policies of Western governments. And that, of course, is the intention.

Tony Dennis, Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today