Tuesday, July 12, 2005

How Much Is A Life Worth?

I've posted before, in the aftermath of the London bombings, on a certain callousness of spirit that afflicts many (certainly not all) Muslims when it comes to the death of Westerners. No doubt many Muslims feel we show the same antipathy towards dead Iraqis. It shouldn't matter, in the grand scheme of things, who dies senselessly, what race, what religion...every premature death is a tragedy for someone's family.

These are the thoughts in my brain as I read this account of a snickering car full of young Muslims in the Leeds area where the bombers apparently lived. Again, you don't want to read too much into it, and you certainly don't want to damn an entire culture because of a few knuckleheads...but compare this reaction, snickering in the face of terrorism in your own backyard, to the universal outrage that greeted the (alleged) mishandling of a book a world away.

We're often told we have to win the hearts and minds of the Muslims if we are to make any headway in Iraq or the Middle East; doesn't the pendulum swing both ways? If you want me to respect your religion and your culture, isn't a good first step to share my outrage at a suicide bombing - in London, in Baghdad, yes, in Jerusalem? The U.S. cannot win the hearts and minds of the Arab world without the help of moderate voices who join us in condemning outrages, wherever and to whomever they occur. There is a grand opportunity in Iraq for a sovereign, democratic, moderate, secular government to usher in a new era in the relations between the Middle East and the West - and that's yet other reason we simply cannot fail (hat tip to that wise political junkie Erick-Woods Erickson for bringing this to my attention)...

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