Northern Valley Beacon

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Saturday, August 06, 2005


Throwing out the mullahs, and the violation of hospitality

With the exception of Northern Ireland, you don't hear about Christian terrorists. If anyone pays close attention to the Bible, there are proscriptions against doing bad things to innocent people. In the New Testament, there are proscriptions against doing bad things to people who are not innocent. The basic theological premise in Christianity is that it is wrong to do anything but nice things to other people. Christianity is by no means the only brand of theology that asserts that it is wrong to kill and hurt people.

When we use the term "Islamic" today, it is almost always followed by the word "terrorist." We Americans who are proud of the fact that people in our country are free to practice any religion they choose get in a bluster about "Islamic terrorists" and quickly follow up any use of the term with the disclaimer that the Muslim religion does not tolerate or advocate atrocities against other people. We like to believe that all religions, if practiced with integrity, promote beneficence toward others.

And we get very agitated and nervous when it is suggested that the current attacks by Islamics against the western world are a resurgence of the medieval Crusades. The hard fact that we are so anxious to avoid is that terrorism against the West and anyone else who pisses off the mullahs is advocated, organized, and perpetrated by Islamics under the justification of holy sanction. Gatherings of Muslim clerics who pronounce that their theology prohibits terrorist acts get blown aside by 9/11, the Madrid bombings, the London bus and subway bombings, and the daily carnage in Iraq. Islamic terrorism is just what Osama bin Laden and his followers and allies say it is: it is an Islamic campaign of atrocity against the west based upon the belief that the jihad is a sanctified mandate from Allah.

The British have had enough. Tony Blair has announced plans to deport and banish any people who come into Great Britain, take advantage of the freedoms and hospitality offered there, and teach and organize atrocities against the people. Sedition and the violence it preaches will not be tolerated. Anyone coming into the country to engage in those activities will be deported. Any congregation of people gathering for that purpose will be banned. One of the goals of the Islamic terrorism is to erode away the freedoms and privileges that western democracies enjoy. The Islamic terrorists have succeeded in forcing the west to consider the need to put limits on religious freedom. Government has been forced to intrude itself into what is being taught in mosques. And, of course, that raises concerns about what it will tolerate being taught in other churches.

The clerics who have come to America and England to preach mass murder and atrocity against their people have violated a rule that is shared by most religions and cultures: the rule of hospitality. In America the rule of hospitality is known in popular culture as the Cowboy Code or the Frontier Code. However, it is by no means limited to those circumstances. It is a tacit rule that requires hospitality to be offered to strangers. If someone offers hospitality for devious purposes, such as to harm or steal from a stranger, that person may be punished as the victims see fit. If a person who is provided hospitality abuses it to steal from or harm the host, the host may take measures of his/her choosing in retribution for the violation.

The Islamic terrorists have violated one of the basic foundations of human trust. They have betrayed those who have given them hospitalility and privileges. When deportation and the ban on groups that preach sedition and violence is examined from the standpoint of betrayal of hospitality and trust, they can be construed as protectors of those creeds and philosophies that value the rule of hospitality, which is, in fact, based upon concepts of equality, justice, and liberty.

The democratic West is being forced to adopt measures that it has avoided for good reasons. During the last election campaign, Sen. Daschle was accused by his opponents of giving comfort to the enemy and of being a traitor. He was pictured in one newspaper ad along with Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. People who oppose the slaughter of our troops by improvised explosive devices and attacks by insurgents are called unpatriotic and allies of the terrorists. Once a country adopts measures that can take actions against its betrayers, then people get busy applying the labels of betrayers to anyone they disagree with. But if the rule of hospitality, not the expression of dissent, is made the touchstone for dealing with the violators, the basic concept of respect and dignity in the spirit of equality, justice, and liberty is not in as much danger.

But we have a powerful strain of intolerance for disagreement in our political system. The charges of treason and sedition are likely to be made again, should our country adopt measures against those who preach and organize for the destruction of our country. The British scheme of deportation of those who violate their hospitality is a solution that seems like a necessary one at this time. And it does limit its focus to outsiders who come in to violate the sanctity of hospitality.

We live in dangerous times. The biggest danger is that our reaction to terrorism can set up the conditions of our own demise. Not everybody subscribes to the code of decency expressed in the rule of hospitality.

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