Friday, August 11, 2006

Every Decent Person

Every decent person in the world condemns a plot that would purposely kill innocents from many countries for no reason imaginable in a sane world.

Divorced from its context, it might not be immediately discernible of what plot or of which innocents the writer of the above paragraph was speaking. At a minimum the plot against innocents could refer to Iraq or the Israeli-Lebanon conflict, among other current hot spots.

In actuality, the quote is from Reed Hundt at TPM Cafe and refers to the recent arrests in Great Britain of 19 or so reputed Islamic terrorists of English citizenship but of Pakistani descent who, we're told, were in the final stages of a hideous scheme to blow up 9 or 10 airplanes headed to America.

Unlike the terror alarms that went up briefly two months ago about a reported Muslim terrorist group operating out of Miami and planning to bomb the Chicago Sears Tower, the group arrested in Great Britain appears to have been the real thing.

But back to this post's lead 'graph. Hundt is correctly outraged by the barbarism exposed in this plot and relieved the gangsters were caught before they could do any real damage. At the same time, as the civilian death toll in Lebanon approaches or exceeds 1,000, I can't help but think that many in the Middle East would apply Hundt's statement to themselves, their countrymen, and religious comrades.

Naturally, many of us in the West would be quick to point out that Israeli and U.S. attacks in Lebananon and Iraq, respectively, did not and do not target innocents, and are thus manifestly different, morally, than the designs of Muslim terrorists in Great Britain and throughout the world.

But I sense that this is a distinction meant primarily for Western domestic consumption, and a distinction completely lost on the Middle East mass public. The blurred line between the strategies and motivations is compounded by Western thought leaders who engage in morally relativistic talk about redefining the term "civilian" to exclude targeted populations that happen to live near and among Western enemies, such as Hezbollah, or those "innocents" who can be demonstrated as having at least a peripheral sympathy for, or allegiance to, the attacked, even if the sympathy and allegiance is forged in the context of their own destruction.

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