Wednesday, September 22, 2004

My reponse to Abu Al Zarqawi's 9-11 message...

The silk tongue of the snake whispers pleasing melodies and murmurs encouragement to the unsure. In a time of moral question and difficult choices, Satan does not bellow or rage. His voice is like balm for a rough sea of conflicting courses, flattening the waves in the direction he wants you to go. His tongue is like a gentle lash, flicking and quietly snapping about the shoulders of people in search of something to believe.

If you thought that Abu Al Zarqawi was an illiterate peasant, you have underestimated his importance. The text of his message on September 11th reads like any revolutionary passage should. He uses flowery language infused with historical figures and events to inspire young men from every region to rise up and struggle against the “banners of the cross.”

It will work... I promise.

If there is one thing I know about human nature on a large scale, it is that no person is truly fulfilled without something to struggle against. The abundance of causes in America should be ample evidence of this. As I understand it, this is the true meaning of Jihad. Philosophically, Jihad makes a lot of sense. Our lives are meaningless if we spend our days lounging around like Roman emperors, sipping wine and allowing concubines to dangle grapes before our lips.

Some of our finest citizens are those who have achieved - or forsaken - wealth and comfort and then turned their struggle from accumulation of goods to the betterment of the human condition. They dedicate themselves to the eradication of breast cancer, or the conditions of our public schools, or protection of our forests and wildlife. Whether we agree with their causes or not doesn’t make them any less valid as outlets of good intention and righteous struggle. Without targets for our arrows, our bowstrings rot.

Our problem is not that Americans and citizens of allied nations don’t struggle righteously, it is that our struggles aim in all directions at once. There is no continuity in our fight. There is no common goal for our citizens. We all looked in the same direction for a few months in late 2001, and then the majority of us turned back toward our own trenches and individual fights. Political parties ceased to cooperate, Spotted Owls regained their previous status, and domestic issues of all flavors eclipsed the larger issue of the future of our civilization in the face of terrorism.

The fundamentalist Muslim armies of the world suffer from no such lack of focus. They can’t miss the target, because the target covers the horizon. It is impossible to ignore, because it is never out of sight. Ask yourself how long it has been since there wasn’t a news story related to the United States in a Malaysian, or Yemeni, or Filipino newspaper. When was the last time one of our newspapers carried two stories in a row about something happening in Kenya?

I have to give the Devil his due. I was impressed with the craft that went into writing Zarqawi’s message. It is not simply an effective message to the Fundamentalist Muslims. It has the potential to be their Common Sense. The difference is that, as far as I know, Thomas Paine wasn‘t in the habit of slicing the heads off of human beings to make a political point. It is a well written document and I have to assume that his prior releases to the Muslim world have been just as effective. This may explain why people continue to flock to their cause.

If we continue to look at the leaders of these evil factions as simple thugs, we run the risk of playing the British role in the American Revolution. Just as they underestimated their rural cousins at their peril, we face certain disaster if we attribute no brilliance to the forces of darkness and death in the Muslim world. Intelligence and Evil are not mutually exclusive. Of all lessons, we should have learned that one by now.

We are still swatting at flies, and the flies are eating us.
If we don’t find some way to eliminate flies, they will feed on our corpse someday.


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