London Mayor Ken Livingstone was positively Churchillian in his response to the July 7 bombings. Rather than blaming British or Israeli policies for terrorist attacks on innocent civilians -- his usual M.O. -- Livingstone condemned the bombings as "mass murder" aimed "at ordinary working-class Londoners" on the day of the attacks.
This week, even before Thursday's attempted bombings, Livingstone was back to his old nasty self. On Wednesday, he told BBC where he placed blame for the bombings: "I think you have just had 80 years of Western intervention in predominantly Arab lands because of the Western need for oil."
Red Ken -- as British papers call him -- also blamed "those governments which use indiscriminate slaughter to advance their foreign policy, as we have occasionally seen with the Israeli government." Oh, and he blamed the United States for helping the Afghans fight off a Soviet occupation -- which makes Americans the "creators" of Osama bin Laden.
That is, at first, Livingstone blamed the bombers. Then, he blamed everyone but the bombers.
In response, the Daily Telegraph ran Livingstone's mug next to those of Islamic radicals Sheik Omar Bakri Mohamed and Anjem Choudary under the heading "The men who blame Britain." Mohamed blamed British voters and mainstream British Muslims for the bombings, while Choudary, the New York Times reported, predicted another attack.
Sounds familiar. Livingstone typifies a certain stripe of lefty that so hates President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair that he or she makes excuses for murderers.
Imagine, as I've written before, if anti-abortion terrorists began killing innocent civilians and said they would stop only if the government outlaws abortion. (After all, if terrorism wins for Islamic extremists, why shouldn't U.S. extremists adopt it?) The Left would not fault pro-abortion policies. The Left would not blame the government for legalizing abortion. The Left -- correctly -- would denounce the terrorists, the violence and any attempt to extort policy by threatening innocent lives.
Yet because the terrorists criticize the Bush and Blair policies, many leftists make excuses for the July 7 murders. These true believers have taken the old saw -- the enemy of my enemy is my friend -- to such an extreme that they have become apologists for homicidal zealots who, given power, would have little reservations about jailing them (or worse) for their gender, sexual practices or "infidel" status.
Livingstone isn't the only Brit to blame Blair's policies. At a press conference Thursday, journalists asked Blair and visiting Australian Prime Minister John Howard if they felt responsible for actions -- sending troops to aid in U.S.-led military efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq -- that put Brits and Aussies in peril's way.
"Do you feel that, in a sense, your policies may have put people in this position?" one reporter asked. Said another: "Do incidents like this, coming just 14 days after the horrific attacks, suggest the war against terror is being lost on the streets?"
Howard's answer was on the money: "Can I remind you that the murder of 88 Australians in Bali took place before the operation in Iraq? Can I remind you that the 11th of September occurred before the operation in Iraq? Can I also remind you that the very first occasion that bin Laden specifically referred to Australia was in the context of Australia's involvement in liberating the people of East Timor? Are people, by implication, suggesting that we shouldn't have done that?"
Howard then added, "this is about hatred of a way of life." And: "We lose sight of the challenge we have if we allow ourselves to see these attacks in the context of particular circumstances rather than the abuse, through a perverted ideology, of people … and their murder."
Howard is right. The terrorists win every time free people blame attacks not on the bombers but on those who didn't blow up civilians on subways and double-decker buses.
Imagine if anti-abortion terrorists killed 52 civilians and themselves, and Americans blamed feminism, or abortion rights, or the U.S. Supreme Court for Roe vs. Wade. Because the equivalent is happening at home and abroad.