Nick Dyrenfurth has a point: in their focus on Western hypocrisy, some on the Left appear uncritical of Islamic extremists (“Nihilist Left brings progressives into disrepute”, The Australian, 10/5 ). But he overreaches wildly by alleging that they “believe that Western-style democracy is in fact the real enemy” and “see no tangible difference between a theocracy and a democracy”.

Tellingly, Dyrenfurth misreads Guy Rundle by claiming he “downplayed” 9/11 in saying it “was no worse than a B-52 run over Vietnam” – on the contrary, Rundle’s point was that bombing innocent civilians is always an atrocity, whoever commits it, and even if its victims are not American.

Seeming to possess inside knowledge denied the rest of us, Dyrenfurth asserts the “impossibility of capturing or trying bin Laden”, but Geoffrey Robertson’s regret that this did not happen does not make a “nihilist”, but in fact shows an unshakeable adherence to the very values he is accused of lacking.

It is often the Left’s thankless duty to remind us to live by our own values, regardless of extremity.

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