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Hugging Zarqawi

March 12, 2006

I once infamously quipped that Tim C. should "give Zarqawi a big hug" next time he sees him. This was in response to Tim’s observation that "how cartoonishly hard it is to love people who either hate us (as the you mentioned Jihadists do) or people who sin is way more obvious or way different than the way we sin." I did this only to point out the foolishness which some notions of Christian love can be when applied to real-world situations. Not the "good foolishness", but the casting-pearls-before-swine bad foolishness.

Then comes this tragic tale of Christian Peacemaker Teams activist Tom Fox, who has fallen to the obvious dangers of such work. Please, please understand that the following is delivered with heavy heart; that I do not gloat in the death of anyone, or in being "right"; but that it is such a good illustration of the real-world difficulties facing Christians in this war that I thought it would at least be beneficial to offer it for discussion. Fox says of his work:

We are here to root out all aspects of  dehumanization that exists within us. We are here to stand with those being  dehumanized by oppressors and stand firm against that dehumanization. We are  here to stop people, including ourselves, from dehumanizing any of God’s  children, no matter how much they dehumanize their own souls.

Fox, whatever I may think of his theology and political analysis, put his life on the line for his beliefs. They are appealing beliefs in some ways, not easily discarded, but then he says this:

I  am to stand firm against the kidnapper as I am to stand firm against the  soldier. Does that mean I walk into a raging battle to confront the soldiers?  Does that mean I walk the streets of Baghdad with a sign saying "American  for the Taking?" No to both counts. But if Jesus and Gandhi are right,  then I am asked to risk my life, and if I lose it to be as forgiving as they were when murdered by the forces of Satan.

No doubt Mr. Fox did some good while in Iraq, and for that I commend him. But I have to whole heartedly reject the idea that the kidnapper and the soldier are equally worthy of reprobation in God’s eyes. The idea that "killing is always wrong" has risen to such a high place in the eyes of many, that some would even give their lives for the concept. How ironic: the only killer he would absolve is his own.

I have battled depression for too long to let my life go just because someone else has decided it will end. Fox’s death is as tragic as anyone else killed by criminals and insurgents, and as far as he tried to further the cause of peace by being true to his own calling, I commend him; but I marvel at the soul that would consider his own killer, and those trying to kill his killer, as morally equivalent. Luckily, judgement is not up to him or me, but a God who knows all.

Wretchard ends with an excellent story about a man who went to church joyful because he did not have to perform a politically motivated murder under the Marcos regime because someone else did it for him. He asks:

The question that always bothered me was whether that person — or any man — had any right to expect someone else to do the dirty job for him. Can we ever simultaneously acknowledge the necessity of a deed and the absolute immorality of doing it? That in a nutshell is the Problem of Evil: that evil exists and that by and by we will have to face it. The question Tom Fox should have posed is "how do you stand firm against a car-bomber headed straight for a schoolbus?" And if you say, "shoot to save the children" ask yourself if it ever justified to be glad that God had sent someone else to shoot the bomber and go hell in your stead. Tom Fox stood for his beliefs to the bitter end. And now the men who killed him are out there, waiting to kill again.

That’s the tragedy; more suffering and death wasted.

When asked the car-bomber scenario, I know what I would do. But there’s more options available. Wretchard contrasts the techniques of people like Fox with L.A. area Syrian born psychiatrist Wafa Sultan, who went on Al-Jezeera denouncing Islamist extremism:

To Tom Fox’s question  "How do you stand firm against a car-bomber or a kidnapper?" — a question to which he never provided an answer except to say it was not fighting — Wafa Sultan’s answer is that you start by denouncing it. You begin by intellectually opposing the ideology that drives it; that legitimizes it; that portrays it as attractive to children from their cradle. The CPT website, on the other hand, says that denunciation is part of the problem, because it dehumanizes the denounced; hides our Western guilt; and shows a lack of tolerance and respect for Islam.

To which Wretchard asks:

Which of these, the Arab woman or American man, do you think was a neighbor to those threatened by terrorism? Go and do likewise.

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