|Vin Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.|
by Vin Suprynowicz
OCT. 10, 2001
In his latest videotaped announcement, terrorist Osama bin Laden leaves little room for anyone to still imagine he played no role in the ruthless New York and Pentagon massacres of Sept. 11, of his fanatical justification for and lack of regret for the outcome, or of his intention to continue recruiting the misguided faithful to his banner, the better to conduct his ongoing jihad against all Americans, and all things American.
"This is America filled with fear from the north to south and east to west, thank God," bin Laden says. "There are civilians, innocent children being killed every day in Iraq without any guilt, and we never hear anybody," he says, referring to the U.N. claim that 500,000 children have died in Iraq thanks to an American embargo which allows the Iraqis to sell as much oil as necessary to buy all the food and medicine they need.
(Are any of Saddam Hussein's soldiers starving? Apparently not. So why don't they share their rations with the little tykes? Admittedly, if American actions are causing even one child to starve that's too many. I've long opposed all this ill-considered, half-hearted third world meddling that only earns us new enemies from Bosnia to Somalia. But shall we now accept at face value the claims of a United Nations which condemns the U.S. and Israel for racism while offering not a word of criticism when white farmers' lands are seized in Zimbabwe due to their race — a United Nations which overwhelmingly voted terrorist Syria onto the Security Council this week, while contending the reason Communist North Korea again needs food aid is the fact that bad weather has just caused the crops to fail for the 47th year in a row?)
"And every day we see the Israeli tanks going to Jenin, Ramallah, Beit Jalla and other lands of Islam," bin Laden the anti-capitalist Saudi multi-millionaire continues. "And, no, we never hear anybody objecting to that. So when the swords came after eight years to America, then the whole world has been crying for those criminals who attacked. This is the least which could be said about them: They supported the murder against the victim, so God has given them back what they deserve. ... Neither America nor the people who live in it will dream of security before we live it in Palestine, and not before all the infidel armies leave the land of Muhammad," threatened the killer bin Laden.
Palestine was the name of the British protectorate which was divided in half in 1948, to form a Jewish state of Israel and a Palestinian state of Jordan. Their properties largely seized without compensation, the Jews who had been living in what is now Jordan found themselves unmistakably unwelcome there and relocated into Israel — no mass of Jewish squatters has camped around the borders of that country for the past 50 years, creating a "Jewishtinian problem" and leading to U.N. condemnation of "racist Jordan" for treating them unfairly.
If the Arabs who had been living in what is now Israel left their homes it was not because the Israelis drove them out. Rather, most left before they ever saw an Israeli uniform, believing Arab promises that Israel would soon be conquered and the Jews "driven into the sea." It is not America which has prevented any Palestinians from settling in Jordan or anywhere else in the Arab world, nor which prevents the Palestinian majority in Jordan — formerly "Palestine" — from living in "security."
In fact, as Paul Johnson points out in his fine history "Modern Times," over the past 80 years one moderate Arab leader after another has been assassinated for the offense of suggesting some reasonable accommodation might be reached with the Jews. Iraq's Saddam Hussein started his career as one of those assassins.
Some of bin Laden's closest associates have now been linked even to the assassination of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat. Nor have bin Laden and his minions ever expressed a word of regret over all the Muslims and other non-Americans who died in the World Trade Center, nor for the fact that the majority of those killed in the terror bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were not Americans, but rather Africans or Muslims — or both.
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Salman Rushdie is a Muslim — the main reason Islamic fundamentalists are so out outraged that he chooses to live in the West and writes in celebration of such decadent practices as "kissing in public places, bacon sandwiches, disagreement, cutting-edge fashion, literature, generosity ... movies, music, (and) freedom of thought."
Rushdie, who has survived a death sentence from Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini (imposed for the political and cultural content of his novels — not a very inspiring sign of Muslim tolerance), rejects the arguments of those who say that American foreign policy is in any way to blame for the tragedy. "Let's be clear about why this anti-American onslaught is such appalling rubbish," Mr. Rushdie writes in a current piece for the New York Times Syndicate.
Strong words of condemnation from a man who has put his own life and safety on the line to take a stand up for pluralism and freedom of speech.
But Mr. Rushdie is a mere layman. How many leaders of the Islamic Faith — both abroad and on these shores — have expressed similarly strong words of rejection, revulsion, and condemnation for the practices of Mr. bin Laden and his terrorists — as well as for their interpretation of the dictates of the Koran?
Oh, there have been some carefully chosen words of "regret" for the casualties of Sept. 11. But any Allied military leader of the Second World War could have expressed "regret" over the casualties on both sides caused by our invasions of Sicily, Italy, Tarawa or Iwo Jima ... without meaning that he saw the slightest thing wrong with our war aims or strategy, without meaning that he intended anything other than the further killing of a whole lot more Germans and Japanese, as soon as possible, and as long as they chose to resist.
No, an expression of "regret" is not enough, for "regret" can be felt about "collateral damage" even in a noble and necessary undertaking.
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"Even if bin Laden was not behind the September carnage, a declaration of war against him is logical," writes my friend Dr. Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, of the Minaret of Freedom Islamic think tank in Washington, D.C. "After all, he declared war on the United States in February of 1998. His signature appears on a fax sent to the London-based al-Quds al-Arabi of a directive that specified 'crimes and sins committed by the Americans are a clear declaration of war on God, his messenger, and Muslims' and ... that therefore 'to kill the Americans and their allies — civilians and military — is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it. ...' (Bin Laden, et al. 1998).
"If someone knows that bin Laden has repudiated this fax, they should produce the evidence now, otherwise it is a top priority for American Muslims to denounce it, and him.
"The fact that a man trains people to kill and tells them it is okay to use the techniques they learn against the innocent (and then gives a prayer of thanks when he hears that someone has done just that) is sufficient cause to consider him a terrorist," Dr. Ahmad continues.
"As Muslims we are obligated to use the same standard of justice with regard to bin Laden as with regard to Ariel Sharon. This is what the Qur'an means when it says: 'O ye who believe! Stand out firmly for justice as witnesses to God even as against yourselves or your parents or your kin and whether it be [against] rich or poor: for God can best protect both. Follow not the lusts [of your hearts] lest ye swerve and if ye distort (justice) or decline to do justice verily God is well-acquainted with all that ye do.' (4:135)."
In a happy change from the kind of war fever that led to the rounding up and forced relocation of law-abiding Japanese-Americans in 1942, President Bush has been at great pains to show a careful discernment that American is not now at war with all the Arab peoples, or with Islam in general.
But Islamic leaders could do a great deal to strengthen this distinction by now coming forward to condemn bin Laden and his ilk as hell-bound murderers totally beyond the margins of acceptable Islamic faith when they call for the ambush and murder of the westerners they have chosen to blame for their own failures, for the fact the Arab nations are overwhelmingly corrupt, failed, backward and oppressive satrapies, from which millions of the best and the brightest have already escaped ... to the West.
If this is not the true teaching of the Koran, then leaders of the Arab and Islamic communities could be doing a whole lot better at denouncing it — making it clear that those who commit wanton mayhem and murder in this extremist cause are not true followers of their prophet at all, but rather outcasts and criminals who can expect no peace or agreeable reward for such actions, in this world or the next.
Why do they not speak up, like Mr. Rushdie and Dr. Ahmad? Because they are physically afraid of the very terrorists they have bred in their midst? Or is there some other reason?
Vin Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the
Las Vegas Review-Journal.
14 oct 2001