Australians woke to the news this morning that an 18-year-old man had been shot dead by police after he stabbed two coppers with a knife, seriously (but thankfully not fatally) injuring both of them.
The lad had been under police observation for a while, and had been invited to the police station to talk to the police.
In a press conference following the stabbings, Victoria Police chief commissioner Ken Lay today said that the lad seemed to have ‘one thing on his mind, and that was to do the most amount of harm to these two people that he could.’ He also said that the man’s passport had been cancelled – a step the government has recently taken to prevent muslims from leaving Australia to fight with the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.
So far, so factual.
But then Lay told the public: ‘It is important to remember that extremist behaviour has nothing to do with faith. It relates to people who would do our community harm.’
This is despite the knife-wielder giving strong indications that he was inspired to commit violence by muslim extremists:
On Mr Haider’s Facebook page, he had posted photographs of himself wearing military camouflage with an Islamic flag alongside abusive message towards ASIO and the federal police.
“Lets not put the focus on other things. The main message I’m sending with these statuses and photos is to the dogs AFP and ASIO who are declaring war on Islam and Muslims,” Mr Haider posted on Facebook.
The Victoria Police commissioner’s inability to state the link between Haider’s faith and his actions is a textbook example of slothful induction.
I’m reluctant to blame the commissioner – and no, this isn’t slothful induction on my own part, I can give reasons for it. I suspect that he is under considerable pressure from his political masters not to draw the link, for fear of aggravating underlying tensions in the community and causing distress to the broader muslim community.
This response the problem of islamic terrorism appears to be universal and long-standing. Witness former US President George W. Bush’s stating that islam is a ‘religion of peace’ just days after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
As Mark Steyn notes perceptively, ‘the frantic insistence that Islam is no more prone to beheading than Buddhists or Episcopalians starts to sound like a psychosis.’
It also makes the person insisting on the lack of connection look ridiculous. And when you look ridiculous, no-one listens to you. You’ve lost your ability to persuade people to come to your understanding. And so they’ll likely behave in ways that you’re trying to prevent.
The best response to the problem is to acknowledge it. The rise of ISIS/ISIL/IS/The Caliphate in the Middle East has inspired a number of muslims to adopt a more fundamentalist approach to their religion, and this is resulting in acts of violence towards people whom they dislike (such as non-believers or other, less-fundamentalist muslims) or whom they see as a threat (such as the poor coppers who found themselves on the wrong end of Haider’s knife).
The necessary corollary to this acknowledgement is that we begin working with the muslim community to understand and solve the problem.
I plan to write a few more posts about islamic terrorism and slothful induction – it is everywhere, after all. Lotsa material for the blog.
In the meantime, pour les esprits curieuses et exigeantes, here’s an example of people whose induction isn’t slothful – the headline shows the way.