Deliver us from evil
According to the AP. Iraqi insurgents are now fighting each other, as "moderate" Sunni terrorists tangle with "extremist" al-Qaeda whose brand of Islam is so radical that it prohibits placing cucumbers beside tomatoes because these vegetables have different genders.
Iraqi police and security forces — not Americans — have been negotiating with 1920 Revolution Brigades fighters, who have said "they want some help against al-Qaida," Baker said.
"That's a plus for this place, and we're going to try to exploit that," he said. "We're not making allies with anybody ... but we are monitoring what's going on."
American officers say the clashes have weakened the insurgency. In the last month in Diyala, 1920 Revolution Brigades fighters eased up attacks on Americans, largely turning their guns on al-Qaida, Baker said.
What makes men kill each other over tomatoes and cucumbers? What makes people kill each other at all? In the last few hours a gunman at the Houston space center took fellow employees hostage, then killed one before killing himself. Over the past few days the US has experienced an epidemic of threats on schools by Cho wannabees, each swearing to break some kind of sick record for psychosis. The spike in these incidents is interesting because they resemble the outcome of a controlled experiment. The numbers of guns out there has not varied much in the last week, but the media coverage of such deranged acts has. The one factor has been held constant while the other has been varied. And the results are strongly suggestive of what my childhood confessors used to emphasize: that bad thoughts have consequences.
As a child I was taught one could "sin through thought, word and deed". Somewhere in the intervening years society seems to have forgotten about the "sins" of thought and word largely because it refused to believe in taboos. There were, the school chaplains used to say, dark doors beyond which it was dangerous for the mind to go. There were thoughts you could not think -- unless you were strong enough to wrestle with what you would find beyond the portal.
Pedophilia, bestiality, extreme cruelty, monstrous behavior -- these are no longer ideas which we dare not entertain or cast out of our minds should they fleet through our consciousness out of the fear of "sin". No.Pedophilia has itself become a cause for enlightened people. The North American Man-Boy Love Association argues children must have sex with adults "before eight or it's too late". Instead we have cast out the idea of sin itself and made the conception of sin as sin our only societal taboo.
But maybe we can "sin through thought and word" after all. Perhaps the school chaplains were right; or at least correct in giving warning about what lay beyond the portal or the "Confirm before you click" warnings on websites. Personally I have gone back to confessing to evil thoughts during Lent; they are sins once again; I am wary anew of the dangers of standing before demons. There may be some beyond my strength.
Malevolence lives in the mind much more than it does in inamate things. Recently the quarter-century crime statistics of two towns, one in Georgia and the other in Illinois were compared. One had forbidden the ownership of guns and the other had made their possession mandatory. The results as you may or may not have guessed, are that crimes in Guntown had dropped while crimes, especially violent crimes in the Gunfree-zone had soared. Like the Virginia Tech incident, people will debate the meaning of these statistics. But like the Virginia Tech case it ought to raise the question of whether, in regulating things, we are regulating the wrong object.
It may be just be possible that bloodlust, the exhortation to cruelty, the legitimization of barbarous violence eventually corrodes and then corrupts completely. The Middle East Times tells us that the Christian evangelists who were recently killed by suspected Islamists in Turkey were savagely tortured. With only knives too, but with the idea to drive it.
Dr. Murat Ugras, a spokesman for the Turgut Ozal Medical center, told the daily Hurriyet of hospital surgeons' fruitless efforts to save Ugur Yuksel, one of the three victims of the massacre at the Zirve (summit) publishing house, which distributed Christian literature.
"He had scores of knife cuts on his thighs, his testicles, his rectum, and his back," Ugras said. "His fingers were sliced to the bone.
"It is obvious that these wounds had been inflicted to torture him," he said.
The two others who were killed, Necati Aydin, pastor of Malatya's tiny Protestant community, and German Tilmann Geske, a Malatya resident with his wife and three children since 2003, were also tortured, press reports said.
The abuse lasted for three hours as the five men detained at the crime scene interrogated the three on their missionary activities, they said.
What made these men torture those evangelists? It was more than the knives in their hands. If one didn't know better, it would be possible to imagine the conflict among terrorists in Anbar as a scene from the squabbling imps of hell. In the end, nothing protects us so much as our sensibilities. A healthy culture instills in its members guideposts, as orderly societies put up highway signs, not in order to block the roads, but to guide us in our freedom.