The Big Picture

When something big happens, it’s human nature to focus on small details. It’s the mind protecting itself, keeping its attention on aspects that it can handle to avoid being overwhelmed by the big picture. I once attended a wake where the single detail I can remember clearer than anything was tiny drops of wax or embalming fluid on the deceased’s finger. And when 9/11 happened, I was frantic to find details of the time a B-25 bomber crashed into the Empire State Building.

I’m now seeing that sort of thing in regards to the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan. Was she a pro-democracy activist, or a corrupt kleptocrat? Was she shot, blown up, or did she hit her head?

Those questions can be important, but they tend to get people to overlook far more important details. And this is the most fundamental one:

She was a political figure, a former and possible future head of state, and she was killed by Islamic fanatics.

(This part will probably irritate a bunch of conspiracy theorists, but screw them.) It’s been about 150 years since a major conspiracy to overthrow the US government came close to succeeding. There was a large plot to kill President Lincoln, but only one aspect of it — John Wilkes Booth’s assignment to kill the president — actually succeeded.

Ever since then, the assassins and would-be assassins have been pretty much deranged loners. William McKinley’s assassin was nuts, as was Kennedy’s and the psycho who shot Ronald Reagan. So, too, were the assassins of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, and the guy who shot George Wallace. We don’t know much about the guy who threw a hand grenade (that turned out to be a dud) at President Bush in Georgia (the country, not the state).

In other countries, I can only recall one non-Islamic nation losing a head of state to assassination in recent history — the killing of Yitzhak Rabin of Israel by a militant Jew.

On the other hand, the numbers of assassinations and attempted assassinations that can be laid at the feet of Islamist nuts and Islamic nations are considerably more extensive. Now we can list Benazir Bhutto alongside Anwar Sadat, George H. W. Bush (unsuccessfully), numerous Lebanese politicians that proved inconvenient to the tyrants of Syria, Pervez Musharraf, King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, numerous Iraqi leaders in recent years, and so on and so on.

The details of just what Ms. Bhutto did prior to the assassination and the particulars of just what claimed her life are largely irrelevant. What does matter is that she died because she sought to return to political power through peaceful, democratic means — such things are capital crimes to Islamists.

That is the message of the most vocal adherents of the Religion Of Peace — “if you cross us, or do anything that displeases us, we will kill you.” It doesn’t matter if you’re a politician, a journalist, a novelist, a cartoonist, a filmmaker, a schoolteacher, or just a random passenger on an airliner or a bus or a train — you are a potential target for death.

Welcome to the world of Dar al-Islam. You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.

Maybe that ought to be my New Year’s resolution — go “fishing for a fatwa” at least once a week. Once a week, I’ll write something that speaks the simple, plain truth about the ugly side of Islam in clear, strong language. It’ll be my little rebellion against those who are trying to bring the world to heel — if not by the sword, than the threat of the sword.

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