Greenwald's reasoning boils down to his question: "Can it really be the case that when western nations continuously kill Muslim civilians, that's not "terrorism", but when Muslims kill western soldiers, that is terrorism?"
The ramifications of the position taken in Greenwald's column are staggering if indeed he and more significantly, if Muslims living in the west genuinely believe it.
Employing a puerile moral equivalency, Greenwald maintains that "it's true that the soldier who was killed yesterday was out of uniform and not engaged in combat at the time he was attacked. But the same is true for the vast bulk of killings carried out by the US and its allies over the last decade."
But there's a matter of major significance that Greenwald's thinking postulates. The terrorists who murdered Lee Rigby as he was innocently walking in the London suburb of Woolwich were converts to Islam of Nigerian origin. If they are not terrorists, if they are behaving the same way he says western nations do in Islamic countries, then on whose behalf were they acting? The west hasn't attacked Nigeria, nor were the Woolwich terrorists wearing Nigerian or any military uniforms.
Speaking of terrorism, Greenwald wrote, "the term at this point seems to have no function other than propagandistically and legally legitimizing the violence of western states against Muslims while delegitimizing any and all violence done in return to those states."
By that logic, when US or UK soldiers launch attacks against the Taliban, or al Qaida, or during the wars against Iraq, if a Muslim is killed, then it is an attack against all Muslims.
Greenwald's position only makes sense if one holds the view that the west is in a war against all Muslims and more to the point, that the reverse is also true.
And if that's the case, if Glenn Greenwald is correct, then every single Muslim in the west is an enemy soldier walking among us, which gives western countries the right to deport or inter them in prison camps until the war is over.
Of course Greenwald is wrong. Like most moral relativists, he hasn't the capacity to think through the implications of the rhetorical contortions he distorted himself into while acting as an apologist for terrorism.
All Muslims are not at war with the west. The vast majority find the Woolwich terrorists as repugnant as anyone else.
Nor is the west at war with all Muslims. Neither western civilians nor military personnel living in Islamic states go around randomly killing Muslim soldiers or civilians for the sake of their being Muslim, nor is anyone in their right mind claiming they have such a right. If a Catholic is murdered by a Muslim terrorist, as often happens, the Pope does not give dispensations that allow the killing of any available Muslim in retaliation.
But this recent horror in Woolwich does highlight another aspect of the dilemma the west faces in dealing with its growing Muslim population.
Sunder Katwala wrote in The Globe and Mail:
The hearts of the vast majority of Britain’s three million Muslim citizens will have sunk on hearing the news of the Woolwich killing. The condemnations came quickly, yet many were also scratching their heads wondering how Britain’s Muslim majority could ever get their voices heard more powerfully than the dramatically newsworthy preachers of hate.The "preachers of hate" to whom Katwala refers are embedded in many of England's and the west's mosques. Just as in the movie Trainspotting, his friends warily accepted the sociopathic villain Begbie, similarly many Muslims may find the Jihadist "preachers of hate' scary and deplorable, but tolerate them nonetheless because to their co-religionists, they are "one of us."
Until all western Muslims and the rest of us shun and ostracize the preachers of hate, be they in the mosques or on the editorial pages of The Guardian, then we will remain a long way from seeing the end of terrorism in our streets.
UPDATE: This post originally identified the Woolwich terrorists as Nigerian Muslims who had immigrated to England. Thanks to information from readers that has been corrected to "converts to Islam of Nigerian origin." Thank you to the readers of this blog and your comments are always welcome.