The ancient Greeks liked to make up myths by way of understanding the springs of human behavior. One of the most profound myths centers on Cadmus, the founder of Thebes and supposed to be the man who invented the alphabet. One day, his men had all disappeared. A dragon had devoured them. Cadmus kills the dragon, whereupon some sepulchral voice commands him to plant its teeth — in other words, he’s acting on instinct rather than reason. When he obeys, armed men immediately spring out of the ground, and then begin to fight each other. Moral: Thoughtless people raise up troubles for themselves, often in unexpected ways.
The Sunday Telegraph gives a contemporary rendering of this myth and its moral. In two semi-related articles, the newspaper shows how several British institutions have been sowing dragon’s teeth by thoughtlessly backing militant Islam. Cageprisoners purports to be a human-rights organization set up to lobby on behalf of suspected terrorists, especially prisoners at Guantanamo. The organization’s moving spirits are former Guantanamo detainees. At fundraising dinners, the most recent of them only a year ago, the organization opens a video link to Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born terrorist who influenced the Fort Hood killer and is behind the recent plot to blow up cargo planes with bombs addressed to Chicago synagogues. The murder of Americans, he thinks, is so overriding a duty for Muslims that it requires no fatwa or clerical authority. To avoid being brought to justice, he has fled to Yemen to lead a branch of al-Qaeda there.
Obviously committed to apologizing for Islamism, and promoting it as far as the law allows, Cageprisoners is nevertheless funded by two British foundations. One is the Joseph Rowntree Trust, based on a fortune from chocolate, always aggressively left-wing and the inventor some years ago of the bogus concept of Islamophobia; the other is the Roddick Foundation, set up by the founder of Body Shop. (One wonders what Islamists make of the fact that their financing depends so significantly on such infidel commodities as chocolates and cosmetics.) The secretary of the Rowntree Trust, one Stephen Pittman, is quoted saying that he has spoken to Cageprisoners and has “a commitment that they are opposed to any form of the use of terrorism aimed at civilians.” Is he taking them on trust out of naivety or irresponsibility? The formula evidently allows them to use terror against anyone they define as not civilian.
It further turns out in the Telegraph that the official education watchdog, known by acronym as Ofsted, and the Charity Commission are busy approving hard-line Islamic schools radicalizing young British Muslims. The Ofsted inspectors, Michele Messaoudi and Akram Khan-Cheema, are both Muslims with links to Islamist organizations. Again, was it naivety or irresponsibility to hand them this important supervisory task? Needless to say, they approve and justify the faith schools they are supposed to be investigating, even when the headmistress of one of them criticizes attempts to integrate Muslim children into British society as teaching them to reject Islam.
What can possibly explain the intellectual failure of the trusts and commissions and officials who are encouraging and financing separatism? They are planting dragon’s teeth.