The same kind of thing might be said about Schopenhauer when he suggests a choice between seeing the world as nothing and Nirvana as everything or vice versa. I think this is at least roughly what I was trying to get at when I expressed doubts about a generalized reverence for life. But I don't mean that we can or should just write off Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, and, while we're at it, perhaps the whole of Buddhism, Hinduism, and other religions too. What I mean (for what it's worth) is that the only honest, non-sentimental way to love the world (or life, or anything else as general as that) is to do so as these things are incarnated in particulars. Without attention to particulars there is no true love. (Can I get away with a grand claim like that?) And I think that this means there are (speaking broadly) two ways to be un-loving: to pay attention to particulars in the wrong way (e.g. callously or sadistically) and to disregard particulars and focus instead on abstractions or generalizations.
Military crimes tend to be of the former sort, as when they show or embody indifference to the innocent people killed along with the target (in a clumsy drone strike, for instance), or when they deliberately aim at inflicting pain (in the use of torture). Terrorism seems to be of the latter sort. Real targets are attacked, but as symbols, not because of what they actually are. The best example I can think of is the attack on time itself in the form of the Greenwich Observatory in Conrad's The Secret Agent, but the 9/11 attacks come to mind also, given their symbolic date and targets. The recent atrocity in Norway is another example, if the children killed were targeted because of what they were considered to 'represent' (i.e. their political views).
Terrorism can seem to be (and perhaps sometimes is) a combination of symbolic thinking (abstracted from the particular people involved) and consequentialism, breaking a few symbolic eggs in order to make some mythical omelet. But there can be also what I hesitate to call an aesthetic aspect to it too. The goal is to create terror, after all, which is roughly the goal of horror movies (and books and music and whatever else can share that general form). Terrorists want to make nightmares reality, even if this is not their ultimate goal. It wouldn't be surprising if Breivik had seen Battle Royale. But I don't mean that it is necessarily bad to enjoy such films, or shock rock, or scary stories. My point is just to recognize that terrorism is more complicated than I might have suggested if I had left out this aspect of it.
I have some sympathy with the views of Chris Bertram and dsquared here, especially the latter's complaint about "failure to own one's own bullshit." But there is, I feel, a tension in Bertram's worrying about people selecting themselves into groups while criticizing a rather vague range of people he disagrees with (albeit rightly) and throwing out the word 'fascist' (which he then neither applies to these people nor really declines to apply: he explicitly rejects throwing this kind of mud as "not particularly useful," but he puts them all in the vicinity of the mud anyway, perhaps hoping they will fall in without his having to get his hands dirty). It is the thinking in terms of groups that is the real problem, I think. But let me immediately qualify that.
If we're talking about the mass murder of children then that is the real problem. But if we're talking about something more intellectual like an "epistemic environment" then the problem is not hatred of terrorism or "honor killings" or war crimes or imperialism. The problem is failing to distinguish between terrorists and Muslims, or between war criminals and Americans. The problem is thinking in terms of large and ill-defined groups. It is true that this tends to be a problem more on the right than anywhere else these days, at least in the USA, but there is nothing necessary about this truth, and it is dangerous for people not on the right to consider themselves thereby immune to it.
Perhaps philosophy can help here. As Frege said:
The logic books contain warnings against logical mistakes arising from the ambiguity of expressions. I regard as no less pertinent a warning against apparent proper names having no reference. The history of mathematics supplies errors which have arisen in this way. This lends itself to demagogic abuse as easily as ambiguity -- perhaps more easily. 'The will of the people' can serve as an example; for it is easy to establish that there is at any rate no generally accepted reference for this expression. It is therefore by no means unimportant to eliminate the source of these mistakes, at least in science, once and for all.It might be helpful to challenge on similar grounds references to "the liberal elites," "the gay agenda," perhaps even "Islam," but also "fascists" and perhaps also "elite scribblers of this [right-wing] spectrum." At any rate we should be careful about making such generalizations (even if it is sometimes very hard to avoid using them).
But I doubt that philosophy can do very much to change the world. I'm tempted to think that terrorism will become more a feature of life because people despair of the world being a genuinely democratic place. If it is ruled by multinational corporations and people like Rupert Murdoch, or some combination of money and stupidity, then how can anyone hope to achieve any political objective without using wealth (which we don't all have) or violence (which is much more accessible)? Or so, I imagine, some people think. Really, though, democracy is probably about as alive and well as it has ever been. Terrorism will continue because the means to create terror are widely available and there are a lot of crazy people out there.
It can't hurt to try to create a less hate-filled and more nuanced appreciation of reality though. I think we owe it to the victims of these crimes to do so. And in some sense, although this is probably the wrong language to use, we owe it to ourselves and to reality too. .