Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Lessons of Mumbai- Too Long for a Bumper Sticker

The rage and frustration I feel as the full dimensions of the Mumbai attacks become clear is dangerous. I was walking through a supermarket parking lot when I saw this bumper sticker.

This was even worse than those imbecilic "coexist" stickers with all of the religious symbols. It took me a while to figure out why. There are so many levels on which this message is ignorant and dangerous that I had to sort them all out. First and most obvious is the fact that it is an obvious slap at “God Bless America”. But, no, that wasn’t the cause for the rage- I’m used to seeing that kind of fuzzy ignorance that passes for political thinking.
I live, after all, in Newton, MA- a very liberal community- so fatuous drivel like this generally just irritates but doesn’t enrage me. So why, suddenly, did I find it difficult to contain my revulsion? The tide of rage I felt was all but overwhelming.

Well, for one thing, I had just read a report on the Rediff India Abroad web site about the particularly cruel and deliberate attention with which the Mumbai terrorists tortured and disfigured the Israeli and Jewish victims of the massacre. An extended quote is instructive:

Doctors…, said they had not seen anything like this in their lives.

"Bombay has a long history of terror. I have seen bodies of riot victims, gang war and previous terror attacks like bomb blasts. But this was entirely different. It was shocking and disturbing," a doctor said.

Asked what was different about the victims of the incident, another doctor said: "It was very strange. I have seen so many dead bodies in my life, and was yet traumatized. A bomb blast victim's body might have been torn apart and could be a very disturbing sight. But the bodies of the victims in this attack bore such signs about the kind of violence of urban warfare that I am still unable to put my thoughts to words," he said.

Asked specifically if he was talking of torture marks, he said: "It was apparent that most of the dead were tortured. What shocked me were the telltale signs showing clearly how the hostages were executed in cold blood," one doctor said.

The other doctor, who had also conducted the post-mortem of the victims, said: "Of all the bodies, the Israeli victims bore the maximum torture marks. It was clear that they were killed on the 26th itself. It was obvious that they were tied up and tortured before they were killed. It was so bad that I do not want to go over the details even in my head again," he said.

Now, listen, I am married to an operating room nurse. I am all too familiar with the ability of medical professionals to compartmentalize, neutralize and discuss in a cool and detached way, things that make mere writers like myself flinch and even retch. The very idea that this hardened physician could not bring himself to contemplate what he had seen struck me to my very core. I found myself, temporarily, without a way forward.
Seeing that bumper sticker put me on a knife-edge between despair and rage. I stood there and stared at the car with my heart pounding. I don’t know what I would have done had the owner of the car walked up at that point.
“No Exceptions”?

What does that mean? Does it mean they would call down God’s blessing on the stinking swine who apparently did their reconnaissance in the Chabad House by posing as travelers and accepting the food, hospitality and blessings of the Rabbi and his family while they plotted their torture and death?

Does it mean that they can see no moral or spiritual difference between the Rabbi who welcomed and served them with an open heart and the filthy, lying murderers who rewarded his kindness by killing his wife before him and letting him suffer her death, tenderly wrapping her body in his prayer shawl, before murdering him?

Don’t get me wrong; I will admit that I knew, even in my turmoil and anguish at that moment, that the owner of that car would not be in favor of any of those things and would, probably think me very unkind to associate him with them.

I know very well that most of the people who have those bumper stickers have put them there because they were moved only by an urge to get in the face of people with “God Bless America” bumper stickers. I’ll admit, too, that I am very much in the God Bless America camp myself. I believe that America is a blessed country. I count among my friends and family a number of people who gave up everything they had and the lives that they had lived for many decades in order to come here and be free.

There is the lovely seventy-year-old lady and her husband who came here ten years ago from Russia along with their daughter and her husband. They still don’t speak much English but recently she proudly showed me around her neat little apartment and paused for a long moment at the end of the tour with a wistful smile on her face, clasped her hands together, looked at me and said with a gusty sigh, “God Bless America”! Having seen the former Soviet Union in depth and first hand, I know exactly what she means.

The reason we have a political battle about immigration in the first place is that anyone in their right mind would rather be here than in any other country on earth. And what country on earth is more free and open? I don’t understand the people who live here and are so alienated, embarrassed by our power and sulky that they feel they can’t let “God Bless America” stand as a sentiment without making a public display of distancing themselves from it.

Is it just moral blindness, and spiteful disenfranchisement that moves them to miss the important point that America, while not perfect, is by far the finest, most democratic, most humane and least Imperial “greatest power in the world” that has ever existed?

America, after all, has come forward over the last one hundred years and, with the help and support of the rest of the western powers, saved civilization from two militarized totalitarian movements that threatened to immerse the world in their respective fascist nightmares.
Now, even as we engage yet another murderous totalitarian threat with our traditional allies severely compromised by infiltration and the degenerate influence of moral relativism and multiculturalism, here is a person who thinks it more important to express their petty snit with America than to consider the implications of their stance. I have to wonder how can anyone think it possible that the ideal of multiculturalism that is (even if accidentally) conveyed by this bumper sticker is not deeply immoral- and self-destructive to the point of being suicidal?

There have been a number of times when I have not even known how to start thinking and writing about the utter horror of the actual events and conditions of our world. At those times, I will turn to the blogs of those I admire most. Robert Avrech who blogs at Seraphic Secret is one of my great comforts at those times. He has a huge range of moods and subjects but, whether he is writing about horror or Hollywood, Robert brings a wisdom and sensibility that has the power to help restore strength and faith.

So after wandering home from the parking lot I fired up my computer and found Robert quoting that same article that had stopped me in my tracks. Then at the end he added this- quoting from the brilliant Melanie Phillips:
Phillips comments:
The atrocities demonstrated with crystal clarity what the Islamist war is all about — and the western commentaries didn't understand because it simply refuses to acknowledge, even now, what that war actually is. It does not arise from particular grievances. It is not rooted in "despair" over Palestine. It is not a reaction to the war in Iraq. It is a war waged in the name of Islam against America, Britain, Hindus, Jews and all who refuse to submit to Islamic conquest.
What of the terrorists' treatment of their Jewish targets? Phillips writes:
They went to some lengths in addition to single out a centre for observant Jews. Rabbi Holtzberg and his wife Rivka were murdered not because of Palestine but simply because they were Jews. That is because hatred of Jews as Jews is fundamental to the Islamists' hatred of the west — and of Israel.

Oh, how exactly!
I would like to presume to add some detail to Phillip’s “things Mumbai makes obvious”:
1. Islamist rage is not our fault. It is endemic to their culture. It has no regard for humanity, sex, age or innocence.

2. If you are not one of them it will seek you out and get you no matter how nice you are to it.

3. Even if you are one of them, once they kill all those who are not, they will find a reason that you are not quite one of them.

4. If you are not the strongest and the quickest and the most ruthless, you are eventually doomed.

The lessons we must learn and make sure we teach to the morally weak like the guy with that bumper sticker are:
1. If you have power over them today, use it now – tomorrow it may be too late.

2. Even if you kill someone who is innocent, as much as that disturbs you, you may take comfort in the certainty that they will die a less painful death than you and your family will if they get their hands on you.

3. The “hostages” of Mumbai had not absorbed the lesson of 9/11. The captives that were taken, tortured disfigured and murdered in Mumbai were no less doomed than the passengers on the airliners on 9/11. They allowed themselves to be taken and abused by captors who did not want anything from them but to use them as instruments of terror. Only the brave passengers of flight 93 understood and acted on this. Let no westerner ever rationalize ignorance of this from this day forward. If the Munich slaughter seemed to you acceptable, if flight 103 did not convince you, if you were able to harden your heart to the fates of Robert Dean Stethem and Leon Klinghoffer, and 9/11 failed to impress you and Madrid and Beslan and all of the theatrical, internet promoted, beheadings could not reach you, surely this atrocity cannot be denied.

4. We have seen in the Western Mass Media’s unwillingness to widely distribute the telling and ghastly details of the torture and murder in Mumbai, their dehumanization of Jews, Israeli, Americans and all other victims of the attack. and their studied avoidance of connecting the violence to Islam or Muslims that the blindness of our friend with the bumper sticker is reinforced by the very cultural institution that should be providing us with warnings and dependable information about the threat.
The Mainstream Media will not inform you, you cannot rely on them for full information; so you need to inform yourself. Do not allow yourself to be soothed and co-opted.

There is but this warning to add:
When (and unless we wake up and do something, it is not a question of “if”) you are attacked, you are going to have to fight as hard as you can, for as long as you can if you want to have any hope of surviving. We have seen what they do to captives so you must never leave yourself at their mercy- they have none. Remember that they are cowards. Suicide, no matter how many innocent people you take with you is a sign of weakness. They are so afraid of the impotence and ineffectuality of their culture and their pathetic individual enslavement to the honor/shame drama of that culture that they are willing to sacrifice themselves (and you!) to avoid the shame. They will murder you gladly rather than admit that they do not have the moral fiber to see how purile and ineffectual their society is. They are willing to accept their own deaths so you must assume they will gladly give you yours. The only defense is in strength and persistence. As Churchill said, “Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never- in nothing, great or small, large or petty - never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

I propose a different slogan- even if it’s a little too long for a bumper sticker- “God already blessed the whole world- God gave us America- too bad so many of us make exceptions of ourselves.”

I have condensed the message of this post- I might have been more direct just writing this:

The Ultimate Lesson of Mumbai- Save the Last Clip for Yourself and Your Family

The “hostages” of Mumbai had not absorbed the lesson of 9/11. The captives that were taken, tortured disfigured and murdered in Mumbai were no less doomed than the passengers on the airliners on 9/11. They allowed themselves to be taken and abused by captors who did not want anything from them but to use them as instruments of terror. Only the brave passengers of flight 93 understood and acted on this. Let no westerner ever rationalize ignorance of this from this day forward...

....When (unless we wake up and do something, it is not a question of “if”) you are attacked, you are going to have to fight as hard as you can, for as long as you can if you want to have any hope of surviving. We have seen what they do to captives so you must never leave yourself at their mercy- they have none....


Dag said...

I posted the same quotation as above, and so did the young Canadian at Blog of Walker. If I looked, I'm sure I'd find it all over the world. The message is universal.

And thanks to you for adding another voice of decency and normalcy to the world's growing chorus.

Anonymous said...


i posted this at a discussion group in response to a piece sammy benoit did at yidwithlid, re: an appointment of a fellow named kurtzer as b. hussein's "special envoy" to the middle east. i suppose i should put a link in here ... link: http://yidwithlid.blogspot.com/2008/12/obama-to-appoint-james-bakers-anti.html

kurtzer once said, in a glorious "god bless everybody" statement showing every ounce of moral cupidity as your bunker sticker wielder:

"Kurtzer responded, "The United States can't and will not base its peace process policy on public statements made by either side. We don't support statements by either side that are excessive. We don't support public statements by either side that are designed not to advance the peace process, and we don't react to those kinds of public statements." [from the yidwithlid article.]

but, i think if your readers will read this, they will get how it applies to your outrage over stupid bumper stickers. it seems incredible, but people seem incapable of making moral choices, or discerning where the good lies, and how this relates to whom one picks as an ally in conflicts.



mr. kurtzer is a smart fellow. sometimes being smart is more of a curse and a limitation than a gift.

i worked with a guy, let us call him "pete." he was a fellow prosecutor. when i took over his position, he had left me a file cabinet of about 5 or 6 hundred uncharged cases, for which he had found probable cause to proceed. why then, had he not charged them? because he was too smart to decide how.

all of the many choices which presented themselves to his very analytical mind, paralyzed him in their multiplicity: a kid in an intellectual candy store.

i found legal pad page after legal pad page of lovely schematics, the likes of which to this day i would not be smart or experienced enough to duplicate, and flow charts, considering the various statutory elements of crimes which the kids had committed, and which elements were elements of other crimes. and he had them drawn out, and compared, and considered, ... , and he could not choose. between the "competing" crimes. so, his solution to the intellectual dilemmas? he did nothing. he choose nothing.

he would not, could not, did not care to choose between the various crimes, and could not impose choice upon the competing values they represented.

so, in the "tiny url" set out below, and in sammy's linked article, it is described how kurtzer said we will not impose our settlement proposals upon the parties for anything they have said, and by logical extension by inference, implication and the barest modicum of real world experience, ... , for anything that they may have done. what he said, in real life speech, was that we cannot impose a choice or preference upon them for what they say, because we cannot choose intellectually between the competing values.

you will excuse me, but i like to call it "pete's disease." a paralysis of choice based upon an inability to distinguish or delineate values, and an inability to look at real world behaviors and assign value or blame to them. "pete''s disease." think about it. you will like it.

one final note. "pete" never got any better. he advised people for years with his flow chart indecisiveness, and left them dumbfounded and speechless at trying to decide anything based on his analysis. he is still at it, as confounding brilliant as ever, totally ineffectual at discerning where the center lies.

i think you should get used to the notion, mr. kurtzer looks to me that he has never gotten over the affliction. always a carrier, his whole life. he really doesn't see the difference between israel and the a-rabs, because, as we all know, it is all the same, these values. they must be respected for what they are. values. they are like nipples, everybody has got 'em, and they all look alike, no matter what they are attached to.

that is all.


p.s. i am a simple minded fellow, when it gets right down to it. to me, it all is based upon one's early in life decision, as to which scout troop he belongs to, and whether he is a beaver's or a duck's fan. you know your friends, you ought to, you picked them. you are allied to you friends, because they share your aspirations and values. and, you stick to your friends, by g_d. simple. just like me. mr. kurtzer is way smarter than me, for sure. who by the way, as between mr. kurtzer and i, would you rather have as a friend. now, i didn't say, who would you rather talk to at a fashionable cocktail party, or spend a swell evening with at a swanky restaurant. i asked you, very straight forwardly, who would you rather have as a friend, ..., say, maybe, in a tight spot? in the grime, and in the muck and the mire.

Anonymous said...

Your prosecutor story goes back to the late middle ages; it is known as the parable/proverb/example of Buridan's ass. Named for the French mathematician and philosopher Jean Buridan, it tells the story of how his ass starved to death for being unable to choose between two more or less equal piles of hay.

Also would someone please add an 'O' to "To Long" in the title, most of us aren't longing for bumper stickers.

Yaacov Ben Moshe said...

Done- good catch.

Malcolm said...

Re: Melanie Phillips's article

Let's look again at the key paragraph:

This new strategy entails targeting countries with a substantial Muslim presence for 'low-intensity warfare' comprising bombings, kidnappings, the taking of hostages, the use of women and children as human shields, beheadings and other attacks that make normal life impossible.

So, al Qaeda, according to Phillips, plans to target countries with a substantial Muslim presence for low-intensity terrorist warfare along the lines of the Bombay attack that would make normal life in those countries impossible. Isn't that phrase, "substantial Muslim presence," uh, telling us something? Something connected with the non-discriminatory immigration policies that have brought into existence the substantial Muslim presence in Western countries?
Phillips writes that Britain is highly vulnerable to the threat of Bombay-type attacks, and she expresses great anxiety about it, but she ends the article without a single mention of what to do about it. The thought evidently doesn't even cross her mind: "Shouldn't we at least stop further Muslim immigration into Britain? And those 2,000 known terrorists currently under surveillance by the police--shouldn't we just ... remove them?" Such thoughts are of course impossible to her. Her brain--one half of which is consumed with a rational horror of Islam, the other half of which is rigidly and unthinkingly devoted to modern liberalism and its core imperative of non-discrimination--is in a complete lock. Thus, while she repeatedly said in her 2006 book Londonistan that Muslim immigration into Britain had been a "lethal" development, she has never proposed that Muslim immigration be reduced by so much as a single Muslim per year. Brain-locked Melanie fears and loathes the lethal, but her liberalism won't let her do anything to stop the lethal.

Let's look once again at that key sentence:

This new strategy entails targeting countries with a substantial Muslim presence for 'low-intensity warfare' ...

What have I said a hundred times?

Muslims do not belong in significant numbers in any Western society, period.

If my policy were followed, there would not be a single Western country that would be suitable for targeting by al Qaeda's low-intensity terrorist warfare, because there would not be a single Western country with a substantial Muslim presence.

Rick Darby writes:

Today I sent the following e-mail to Melanie Phillips:

As long as Britain keeps admitting more Muslims and allowing the Muslims already in the UK to have their own state-within-a-state, no amount of preparation and intelligence gathering can possibly make it safe.
When will you outgrow your inner Guardianista and call for an end to Muslim immigration?

I have not received a reply, but I know she is busy, and I don't expect one.

Tom the Redhunter said...

The "coexist" bumper stickers are about the most idiotic. But the "God bless the whole world; No Exceptions," which I have seen where I live, run a close second.

The latter is not just a shot at "God Bless America," but at the entire idea that one culture or nation is superior to any other.

These are the same folks who display "Arms are for Hugging" and "It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the air force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber."

To these people, anyone who blames any aspect of Islam for terrorism is a "hater." They'd stop their attacks if only we loved them more, sent foreign aid, cut back on our military spending... you know the drill.

shoprat said...

Those Co-exist bumper stickers imply that all religions are equal which is only possible if they are all wrong, which is probably what they believe.

People refuse to face the reality for a number of reasons.

Some of them find the truth about Jihad so terrifying that they are in denial. Like little children they think they can make it go away by pretending it isn't there.

Some cannot accept that their is a conflict going on that is not rooted in the class struggle. Their "secular religion" of Socialism requires that they believe that.

lgude said...

I am reminded of a picture Michael Totten found in Ramadi in 2007 by an Iraqi child. It shows a many headed hydra - an ancient symbol for evil - the beast itself being stabbed. An Iraqi flag flys from the top of the knife and the strong arm stabbing the hydra has an American flag on its sleeve. With experience even a small child can recognize evil. Put it this way - al Qaeda and their ilk are determined to provide the necessary experience.

Anonymous said...

The problem I have with the "Coexist" bumper stickers is that they target the wrong audience. Given the cultural diversity of our country, and the overall lack of ethnic violence here, we are probably the most tolerant nation on Earth. The stickers are unnecessary here. Someone should ship a thousand crates of these bumper stickers to Karachi, Teheran, and Riyadh. Now that would be money well spent.

Chana @ Lemon Lime Moon said...

This was a wonderful post. You said so many important things that need to be said in public.