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Monday, July 25, 2005

It all comes down to the people's law vs. the 'divine' law 

We stopped subscribing to Newsweek after one too many cover stories about Jesus and his angels.
So without Orcinus, I would have missed this great column on the basic similarity between homegrown and international terrorism --Untrue Believers by Christopher Dickey:
The sentencing of Eric Rudolph, who bombed abortion clinics, a gay bar and the Atlanta Olympics, ought to be a milestone in the Global War on Terror . . . Rudolph killed two people, but not for want of trying to kill many more. In his 1997 attack on an Atlanta abortion clinic, he set off a second bomb meant to take out bystanders and rescue workers. Unrepentant, of course, Rudolph defended his actions as a moral imperative: “Abortion is murder, and because it is murder I believe deadly force is needed to stop it.” The Birmingham prosecutor declared that Rudolph had “appointed himself judge, jury and executioner.” Indeed. That’s what all terrorists have in common: the four lunatics in London earlier this month; the 19 men who attacked America on September 11, 2001; Timothy McVeigh in Oklahoma City, and many others. They were all convinced they had noble motives for wreaking their violence. Terrorists are very righteous folks. Which is why the real global war we’re fighting, let’s be absolutely clear, should be one of our shared humanity against the madness of people like these; the rule of man-made laws on the books against the divine law they imagine for themselves. It’s the cause of reason against unreason, of self-criticism against the firm convictions of fanaticism. [emphasis mine]. . . [Quoting writer Eric Hoffer] “faith in a holy cause is to a considerable extent a substitute for the lost faith in ourselves” fits the profile of terrorists everywhere. "in exchanging a self-centered for a selfless life we gain enormously in self-esteem. The vanity of the selfless, even those who practice utmost humility, is boundless." The threat is more vast when it comes from those inspired by Al Qaeda, because Osama bin Laden’s pseudo-chivalric ideology of “sacrifice” and “martyrdom” has proved so infectious among small groups of young people on the margins of Muslim societies. Rudolph and McVeigh were basically loners, although they, too, claimed they were fighting for a greater cause—in Rudolph’s case, the “right to life.” . . . the difference between rationalism and obscurantism should be underlined at every opportunity. And that’s not what’s happening. Instead, since the detour into Iraq it seems the intellectual compass of those who led us there has gotten lost in a fog of moral pieties, and sweet reason has surrendered to missionary zeal. To be a true believer in the Global War on Terror you are supposed to believe that we are fighting terrorists in Iraq, but that they would never think of fighting back outside of Iraq. Any effort to understand the enemy or his motivations is treated as an apology for what he does. At times we seem to be infected by the very pathology we are fighting against . . . facing the basic painful facts and addressing them logically, reasonably, without demagoguery is not a surrender to terrorism, it is the first crucial step toward defeating it. Righteous murderers may claim they're defending Islam or unborn babies, but clearer heads and common sense can distinguish true believers from those who believe in truth.

And while you are visiting Orcinus, take a gander at his next post, The Zigzag March of the Minutemen. I think Dave Neiwert is doing the best analysis in North America today on the dangers of the -isms (racism, anti-semitism, nationalism, fascism, etc)


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