In a piece in The Australian about the tragedy at Breslan, Mark Steyn wrote:
I remember a couple of days after September 11 writing in some column or other that weepy candlelight vigils were a cop-out: the issue wasn’t whether you were sad about the dead people but whether you wanted to do something about it. Three years on, that’s still the difference. We can all get upset about dead children, but unless you’re giving honest thought to what was responsible for the slaughter your tasteful elegies are no use.
Taking a moment to mourn is taking a moment to acknowledge the grief and loss. It’s taking a moment to reflect on what might have been if these children had not been horribly wasted. It is an act re-affirming that human life has value. If we push this aside in order to rush that much more quickly to revenge and retribution, then all we’re doing is perpetuating what’s been started by the terrorists in the first place: that belief that individual human life has little meaning now.
There are those that kill because of a quirk in their mind; others are made that way by being being part of an event, to protect or take, to stand, or march. Of the latter, some may like to kill; most are forced to kill and do so reluctantly. But there are those for whom killing means nothing; it brings no sadistic delight, nor thoughtful regret because whatever love and value for life that was in them was stripped away, over time, until they are as indifferent to the act of killing as they are to the act of life.
I don’t have insight into the terrorists who entered the school in Breslan, but I have to believe that they were the latter type of killer–indifferent to lives, their own or others. The sadistic killer wants to inflict but not experience, and the reluctant killer could not shoot a child in the back as they run away. I truly believe this is so.
If these people were indifferent killers, they weren’t born that way. At some time in their past, they were like the children who they killed, with the same needs to have security, love, affection, and the same right to be safe. What changed for them over time, we won’t know because I doubt will learn much about them individually; we’ve labeled them ‘terrorists’ and that seems to be enough.
To Steyn and to a growing number of people, including an uncomfortably large number of webloggers, all that we need to know about these people is that they are Muslim, and that is explanation. What is it that he says?
The good news is that the carnage in Beslan was so shocking it prompted a brief appearance by that rare bird, the moderate Muslim. Abdulrahman al-Rashed, the general manager of al-Arabiya Television, wrote a column in Asharq al-Awsat headlined, “The Painful Truth: All The World’s Terrorists Are Muslims!” “Our terrorist sons are an end-product of our corrupted culture,” he wrote. This is true. But, as with Nicolson’s prettified prose in London, the question remains: So what? What are you going to do about it? If you want your religion to be more than a diseased death cult, you’re going to have to take a stand.
Moderate Muslims are no more rare than moderate Christians or moderate Jews or moderate Hindus. Every religion is capable of sustaining hate and feelings of persecution long enough and strongly enough to strip the life away from soulless soldiers who kill as easily as they put pepper on their eggs. It takes events to crystalize and concentrate the extremists and then when they act, the rest look on and point and cry out, ‘There are no moderates in this religion!”
But have we forgotten the plight of the Bosnian Muslims so soon, after their own children were raped and tortured and killed by Orthodox Christian Serbs? This was less than ten years ago – how can we have forgotten?
Or can we forget Christian turning against Christian in Ireland?
Here in the United States, have we forgotten Timothy McVeigh and those who bomb abortion clinics, or kill those who are different colors or beliefs, or who are gay, all the while holding up a cross? Does anyone remember four little black girls who were killed by a bomb as they sang in a church not all that long ago? Not many places safer than a church. Not even a school.
You say, but these were isolated incidents, not part of a global conspiracy. Frankly, I find all religions to be a conspiracy; a conspiracy aimed at robbing people of their intellect and their empathy.