A Giant Leap Backwards

And what of the international community, so-called?

Will the USA have to break arms and beat about heads and ears to secure assistance in any international policing task? Great Britain and France and perhaps Turkey seem to understand what’s at stake in northern Iraq against ISIS or ISIL. But in Nigeria, with Boko Haram? In the Ukraine? In the Mid-East? Where is everyone? If the US of A is to be pilloried for even considering aid to siege-laden villages and cities in North Africa, whom do others expect to sort things out and make life in these territories livable for all the citizens of those countries? Is there no danger to other “Western” states but the US? Is it enough for Saudi Arabia to pay others to do the fighting for them?

And what of Ferguson, Missouri? Are we as a nation content to allow others internationally to see and watch us experience a retreat to pre-Civil War times in which white armed citizens cause havoc because they can, because they have more arms than Afro-Americans, because they have less belief in the goodness of the American system than their black counterparts? This extends to the issue of immigration reform, as well. “Not in my backyard!” indeed. Fly over the United States, look out the window, see the millions of acres on which people could peaceably be (a) settled and (b) could live better and more useful lives while strengthening the fiber of our country.

And finally, and apparently most urgently in terms of humanitarianism, from a distance we see Mount Sinjar and the lengthening shadows of ISIS or ISIL, take your pick.

In 785 A.D., North African muslims, called familiarly Moors, established the first mosque in Cordoba, Spain.

Until 1492, when both the Moors and the Jews were expelled from Ferdinand and Isabella’s Spain (ethnic cleansing at its finest) , the Moors reigned with a mixture of benign neglect, tolerance, learning, and lived in great beauty. Even today, their seven hundred year-old caliphate may be seen in exquisite architecture, planned urban beauty, and as many as 4000 words imbedded in the Spanish language.

Today in Iraq some Muslims have decided to reinstate their influence – not by concentrating on astronomy, mathematics, cosmology, tolerance, and architecture as their ancestors did – but by simply killing anyone with whom they disagree religiously. They currently operate in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and some small parts of Jordan, with names that Westerners confuse and conflate one with the other. Both titles point to a growing hunger for Islamic power in the Mid-East and, perhaps, far beyond. Their methodology is primitive, and effective.

Convert to Sunni Islam or die.

This is, in some ways, the exact same challenge civilians in Nigeria and Cameroon are being offered by the group known as Boko Haram. This is an Islamic offshoot that erupted in 2009 and continues throughout this very minute. Their methodology at first seems somewhat less brutal. Rather than killing or beheading anyone with whom they disagree, they kill or capture their prey, seeking to – and indeed actually doing so – raise money for their revolutionary cause by kidnapping members of other suasions and seeking enormous ransoms, or at least ransoms that can and are being paid.

ISIL kills; Boko Haram kills or kidnaps. Briefly, that seems to be the single major difference between the two.

Another variation on the theme might be that Boko Haram kills everyone; ISIL kills only those who are not Sunni Muslims. There is a racist element herein: in Nigeria it is black people who primarily are the victims of Boko Haram for the simple reason that more Nigerians are black and live in the south of the country. It is Boko Haram that kidnapped the 298 schoolgirls several months ago.

In our own country we are still capable of being shocked and angered by random violence. We have a tendency to forget that here, too, violence once existed, often, it seemed, with governmental approval.

That was well before Quote Social Media Unquote erupted throughout the world. The speed of communications today makes every lost life a tragedy, every maimed child a beggar, every displaced family or even lost sister into sex slaves.

During the endless Viet Nam war, as our own country suffered the embarrassment of loss and growing impotence, it was not unusual to hear the occasional outraged but chair-bound militarily hawkish adherent simply swear and then shout, “Nuke ‘Em All!”

Watching the admittedly unverified films shot by witnesses to the terror of ISIL or Boko Haram recalls that instinctive fury, “Line ‘Em Up!”

The bloodthirstiness of what we see is so inexplicable that our only response is equally Neanderthal.

Whereas “civilized” countries go to war for territory, oil, gold, economic gain, ISIL and Boko Haram are warring for visions and versions of their gods. True enough, we (the northern European) did the same during the Crusades, but even then Crusaders had rules of engagement. There were things that simply were not done. This applies to neither ISIL nor Boko Haram who seem to enjoy what they do, spread Islam or kill.

In this summer of “Sharknado 2: the Second Part,” the idea that sharks could pick out their victims in advance and follow, harass, and finally attack each of them is held ridiculous. Sharks are held to be thoughtless killers, reactive entirely, operating only on simple hunger and instinct.

Lack of reason, or instinct, seems to be driving the bloodshed in Iraq and Nigeria. Not to mention the inability of both groups’ soldiers to reason for themselves, to feel sympathy, to walk in their victims’ shoes. If martyrdom is the payoff, how can any force known to man today stop this self-immolation?

It can’t. There isn’t one.

Which brings us all fairly close to shouting “Nuke ‘Em!”

Such progress in all these years.


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