Back in high school in the early 80’s, when I was just starting to get politically aware, I used to irritate people by describing Communism as “the perfect system for the perfect people.” Then I’d add “and as soon as we have perfect people, it’ll work.” The idea I was trying to convey was that Communism sounded great, but was incredibly impractical to be carried out in the real world.
Since then I’ve evolved in my thinking. Communism isn’t simply a beautiful but impractical construction, it’s utterly unworkable and actually plays into the worst in human beings. It’s a Rene Magritte painting of political philosophy — looks great on paper, completely impossible in reality. And attempts to realize it inevitably end in disaster.
I’m starting to see Islam in a similar light. The Koran is filled with beautiful sentiments and rules, and indeed if everyone lived their lives in accordance with it’s tenets, perhaps the world would be a better place. But everywhere it’s been tried, it’s been nothing but an unending stream of brutality, oppression, atrocities, and general inhumanity.
I’ve also noticed a disturbing pattern when it comes to terrorist incidents. When some grand incident occurs, one faction immediately leaps to the conclusion of blaming “those damn ragheads,” while the other side proclaims “Islam is a religion of peace, and you are racist/bigoted/intolerant for leaping to those conclusions!” Then, later, when the identity of the perpetrators is discovered (excluding Timothy McVeigh, Ted Kaczynski, and the Aum Shinryku cult, they HAVE been Muslim), the defenders of Islam immediately say “but you cannot blame Islam for this!”
That’s what truly bothers me. Their initial reaction is not to condemn the perpetrators, but to distance themselves from it. When Baruch Goldstein killed 29 Muslims in Hebron 10 years ago, the Israeli government immediately condemned it and him in the strongest possible terms. The reaction of the Israeli people, with a few nutcase extremist exceptions, reacted with shock, horror, and shame.
When 19 Muslims killed over 3,000 people on 9/11/01, the general reaction among Muslims (excluding those who didn’t dance and rejoice, which was a percentage orders of magnitude greater than Jews over Goldstein) was “you cannot blame Islam for this!” Well, that and “it is to be expected, given the Americans’ support of Israel and it’s brutal occupation of Palestine.” No unqualified condemnation, no shame, no shock, no horror. Simply “don’t blame us, blame the Jews.”
And now the obscenity that was the slaughter in Fallujah.
The best solution I’ve heard so far: give the residents of Fallujah one week to come out. Interrogate all males between the ages of 15 and 65 to see their roles in the slaughter (and carefully study the footage that’s been seen around the world) and deal with those that are guilty. The rest get dispersed around Iraq (preferably in Shiite and Kurdish strongholds) and kept apart. Then, finally, the city gets levelled — along with any who have refused to leave. Let no brick stand atop another.
It’s ugly, it’s brutal, it’s unfair, and it’s probably illegal. But it’s probably the only thing that will effectively deter more Fallujah massacres. We owe it to all the other Coalition personnel (military and civilian) to keep them safe, and we owe it to the Iraqi people to show them that the thugs and murderers will not be allowed free reign any more.