Sunday, June 8, 2008

A Rose by Any Other Name, Part the Second...

My dear Chloe, your statement Jihad doesn't mean holy war; it means "to strive to uphold the will of Allah" - most Muslims interpret it along the lines of Zen "right practice." In the Islamic laws of war, right practice does not include the killing of civilians.

Well, I must commend you for getting your second sentence only partly wrong. To begin with, since you're waxing philosophic on matters Islamic, I presume you are in fact, a scholar of Islam? No Lady Mujtahideh, perhaps, or even a hafiz, but you are a Muslim, and you've at least read the Quran in Arabic, and skimmed the hadith? No?

Because judging from your comment, I would have suspected that your exposure to the subject had been confined to watching Aladdin and perhaps shyly mumbling "marhaba" to the cute guy at the kebab shop.

Jihad has several meanings; one of them, jihad bis saif, or "jihad by the sword" does in fact mean war in defense, or on behalf of the Islamic State, and it is this meaning that the Western propagandists use, along with their polemic counterparts, the Islamic fundamentalists.

As for Zen, seeing as that is a pagan belief, I rather believe that few good Muslims would use it as a comparison for jihad bil qalb, the struggle of the heart to find the right way.

Now, you are essentially correct that the traditional Islamic law of war forbids the killing of non-combatants, especially women, children, and the aged; however, I am hardly the person with whom to discuss the possiblility of justifying these acts in terms of Islamic law - again, I should refer you to an Islamic scholar, preferably one aligned to the cause of the adversary.

As for you, Diodotus, really, I had expected better!

You address not a single point from my dissertation, but instead seek to muddy the water with talk of barbarism and burning babies.

Well, let me address each of your point for the edification of our distinguished audience.

First off, I can think of no one, with the possible exception of the soon-to-be released "Kung Fu Panda" who might label an enemy as a "snake" or a "rat"... Rather, propagandists (rather like racists) take a word out of context, or invent one, and use word-play (and more often, pictures) to create an image of a humanoid, yet inhuman beast. Thus is friendly Hans, the tow-headed youth from Salsburg, transformed into the monstrous HUN... So Hiroki, the rice farmer from Atsugi has the name of his ancestral home, Nihon, Land of the Rising Sun, transmogrified to Nippon, and reduced to NIP... This little trick worked so well, even President Truman must have believed it, stating (the day after the fireball rose over Nagasaki) "When you deal with a beast, you have to treat him like it beast. It is regrettable, but nevertheless, true."

Which brings us neatly to your next point.

If children are not meant to be burned in buses, where exactly may they be burned? The streets of Hamburg? Of Tokyo, Dresden, Yokohama, Berlin, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Frankfurt?

People who enjoy the best standard of living in the world largely because their Nation had no qualms over burning to death more babies (not to mention their Mummies, Daddies, Uncles and Aunties) in one war than have perished by the flame in the all the rest of mankinds inglorious history are in a rather poor position to point fingers at the rag-tag insurgent who incinerates the odd child in the course of attempting to drive the infidel from his (and her) lands.

That said, I do not endorse the methods of our current Middle Eastern adversaries, but then, I do not endorse our Hellfire-vs-Automobile methods, either. However, I have the decency not to be too critical of the collateral damage (another favorite bit of modern propaganda) that the adversary incurs, as he fights his war and we fight ours.

Postscript: I made it most clear that my reference to the Japanese as "defenders of the Greater Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere" applied only after the Battle of Midway (but well before the devastastion of their homeland by American firebombs) - as every American schoolchild knows, the Rape of Nanking occured in 1937-38, and America, while knowledgeable, did nothing to stop it. In fact, the most effective resistance to the assault on the Chinese citizenry was, oddly enough, carried out by a Nazi businessman.

1 comment:

Diodotus said...

So sorry to disappoint. Your "dissertation" was in response to my earlier point, which was entirely about barbarism and why we should label it what it is. Burning babies is barbarous no matter who does. I shall expand further in my next post.

Regarding your other points:

1) Emnification takes all forms. Hutu propagandists said "nits make lice" to encourage the killing of Tutsi children. Jews were referred to as rats. Bush talks of "smoking terrorists out of their holes." Etc.

2) It is not collateral damage when you wantonly target civilians, only when you hit them despite your best efforts. The former is illegal; the latter is considered acceptable. And though I would like to see a world in which the latter is also against the rules, I do think there is a moral distinction between the two.

"; urchinTracker();