Home > Islam, Religion, terrorism > Sure, I’m indignant

Sure, I’m indignant

Despite the complicated and not always happy world we live in, I most often manage to avoid being driven by contempt or hatred. For moral reasons—surely, despising and hating must be harmful to the soul–for trite aesthetic ones (to avoid those vertical lines a lifetime of disapproval etches round the mouths of older people and to prevent those between my eyebrows from deepening), for health reasons (to keep my blood pressure normal, my heart rate slow, my hands warm). Also, my mental setup is such that I believe in silver linings more than in clouds, I deliberately take things at face value, I don’t believe that a new conspiracy is being spun every minute, and I see the line running from A to Z as always straight. In sum, I refuse to be goaded into suspicion, anger or indignation.

Not an easy resolve, as this past week demonstrates.


First, the appearance, seemingly out of nowhere, of hordes of m-f-ing murderous flesh-eating Islamists, the ISIS. And how do these names, acronyms, abbreviations, become legitimate so quickly, how do we go in a few hours from “the IS what?” to “yes, of course, the ISIS,” and start bandying the letters as though these people form a bona fide political group with which, sure, we can talk once we bring them to the table, and indeed, the Sunnis have been ill-treated by Maliki so naturally enough they eat the heart of their enemies or post videos  of themselves smoking, relaxed, beside the heads of decapitated soldiers, occasionally pausing in their banter to insult one of the cut heads. What? Several thousand dead already? Well, this is war, it’s not supposed to be pretty.

Second, the unbelievable article by Dick Cheney in the Wall Street Journal. This sorry excuse for a human being who has caused untold harm in terms of loss of life, in perverting Republican ideology (with more than a little help from his friends Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Karl Rove et al) and of sheer ruthlessness–one can’t help wondering whose heart was transplanted in him that so lacks the basic characteristics that a heart is supposed to have beside ticking– has crawled out from under his rock to voice an opinion about the present Iraq situation. He has the incredible—what do I call it? Chutzpah? Nerve? Brazenness? Gall? (words fail me, not good for a writer) to blame the Iraq mess, rather than on himself and the nincompoop Bush Jr., on, who else, President Obama. In his opinion piece, the man gives us, among other gems to treasure, the following assessment of our present leader: “Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many.”

The third noteworthy piece of news that I read with a howl of outrage comes from the latest media darling, Abu Khattala, the Islamist terrorist responsible for the Benghazi attack and the death of Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans. (It bears repeating for Cheney and McCain’s benefit: despite their trumpeted and oft-repeated statements, Abu Khattala and the Ansar-of-whatever were responsible for the attack, not President Obama). Here is what Abu Khattala, yet another one of these ferocious wild beasts with the brains of a gnat, the morals of a hyena and the compassion of a rattle snake (my apologies to gnats, hyenas and rattle snakes) plaintively asked a New York Times journalist a while back :

“Why is the United States always trying to impose its ideology on everyone else? Why is it always trying to use force to implement its agendas?”

That is rich, coming from the proponent of a faith which in the 7th century was imposed throughout North Africa and the Middle East not by fiat but through the sword, by armies who converted populations by force, thinking nothing of massacring anyone who wouldn’t embrace Islam. Armies which, in the words attributed to Ali, the Imam venerated by Shiites, reveled in the fact that their horses stood chest-high in the blood of non-believers. “Islam or death” were the choices offered. That is rich indeed, coming from one of the more fanaticized believers in a faith that, distorted and perverted by the Islamic Revolution in Iran, has, since 1979, been setting the world on fire in its efforts to establish a global umma or Caliphate. Meanwhile, out of deference for respectable Muslims–the majority–and not wanting to throw out the baby with the bath water, we sit back and preach regard and tolerance even for rogue Islamists and spin pieties about cultural differences, all the while counting bodies at home and abroad.

  1. Jonathan Agronsky
    June 22, 2014 at 1:01 am

    Tell it like it, Saideh!


  2. June 23, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    Right on, Saideh !! The circumstances are going from worse to awful !!


  3. June 23, 2014 at 3:54 pm

    Well said. I had the related thought this morning, in a different context, that there is no evil that cannot be rationalized. And has been. The rationale often follows the form: the end justifies the means.

    Zealots are nasty, vicious Blues Brothers, “on a mission from God.” After all, you have to break some eggs to make an omelet. When you are out to save souls or the nation or “the planet” from unmitigated catastrophe, crimes–even atrocities–become the lesser evil, collateral damage, an acceptable risk. If you are sufficiently devout in pursuit of the existential cause, destructive combat becomes a “just” even “holy” war.

    And yet….. Reasonable people recognize that sometimes oppressive, even destructive means are necessary to achieve a greater good. “War is hell,” said Union General William Tecumseh Sherman, lest anyone isolated from the mayhem of the Civil War cling to the notion that there is something romantic or noble about it. But Sherman also understood that it may be necessary: “War is the remedy that our enemies have chosen, and I say let us give them all they want.”

    The human skill of rationalization is an agnostic tool, a proverbial double-edged sword. It may be used to defend an evil cause. But some causes still are justified.

    Ultimately, one may hope that an omnipotent, just divinity will intervene palpably to sort out whose cause was right and whose was wrong. Or alternately, one can believe that the scientists who argue that evolution favors morality are right, and that the majority of people’s innate moral sense will triumph over the perversions of fanatics.


  4. Melinda Barnhardt
    June 24, 2014 at 10:52 pm

    Lost for words? I don’t think so. I only wish that I had written what Saideh has.


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