Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Help for Russia

Those who would like to make a donation for the assistance of the victims of the terrorist attack at the school in Beslan should send their contributions to:

St. John Russian Orthodox Church
4001 17th St. NW
Washington, DC 20011
(In the memo section of the check, please note, "Beslan.")

Outrages Continue in Iraq

Two Italian humanitarian aid workers were kidnapped in broad daylight from the streets of Baghdad, Iraq, by terrorists, just days after the murderous killings of school children and adults by terrorists in Russia. Both are women. The news report did not, as I recall, list any demands for their release; there are Italian troops present to support the peace-keeping efforts in Iraq. An Iraqi man and woman were also kidnapped with the two Italians, one of whom has been working to help the Iraqi people since 1994.

The protection of women and children is so basic to human survival that to point this out sounds ridiculous. The only thing more horrific than attacking women is attacking children -- and now we've seen both take place in the space of a few days. As shocking, as horrible, as incredibly wrong as the abuses that took place in the Abu Ghraib prison are, I don't recall any women or children having been detained, or interrogated, or abused. I'm sure we'd have heard all about it if any had been. I have said it before, and I'll keep saying it until proven wrong: There is something fundamentally wrong about a religion that teaches jihad; and when its followers make innocents and non-combatants their targets, they have ceased to be human beings themselves. Unless there is an outcry against such actions as in Beslan and Baghdad from the Muslim world; until the people and leaders of the Muslim states take every possible step to root out, arrest, and bring these terrorists to justice, they risk being seen as complicit with the terrorists, condoning these brutalities. I am horrified by the concept of a suicide bomber; but I can, in a way, understand when a person with explosives in a vehicle, or strapped to their body, crashes into a military target, fighting back against an enemy who may possess weapons and technology not available to someone fighting a guerilla war. Bombing a school or a pizza parlor or a bus; shooting children in the back as they flee to safety; taking aid workers and journalists as hostages and beheading them with a sword, however: this is not warfare -- these are atrocities, outrages against all human existence.

Call me paranoid. On the one hand, there are the "progressives" in our culture. They have a vision of a bright and shining future, a paradise; on the road to which is a major stumbling block -- religious faith. On the other hand, there are the adherents of Islam, who have a vision of an entire world united in the worship of Allah; and who will bring that about by conquest, if necessary. In between are the Christians. We also have a vision of a future paradise, but ours is one that centers upon God, present with us through Jesus Christ, His Son, our Lord. We also desire and work for the conversion of all the world to the knowledge and love of God in Jesus Christ; but by way of love, not by the sword. Who will come to kill us first?