AFTER THEIR HEADS ROLL, AMERICA'S DEAD REMAIN FACELESS
The sign of a civilized society is the sanctity it accords human life. According to the Talmud, "To save one life is like saving the world." You needn't be religious to live by this maxim. You must, however, be observant of the most precious thing on earth: the life of an innocent human being. As I see it, our government's only legitimate function is to protect American lives – one by precious one. Wholly illegitimate is the devising of messianic ideologies and imperious schemes.
Tellingly, the neoconservatives at National Review have grumbled about
This may sound chauvinistic, but when nations are consumed with safekeeping their own, by default (and in self interest), they are more careful with the lives of their enemies.
Its official policy notwithstanding,
I grew up in
I was wrong.
One of the most disgraceful displays of indifference to the sanctity of American life in
I was wrong.
I became obsessed with Maupin's helpless young face. I couldn't stop thinking about how frightened he must have been once he realized no one was bargaining for his life or coming to rescue him. In vain I turned to television and the Internet for news of him. But the media, taking its cues from the Bushies and the American people, let the leads grow cold. The next I heard, Maupin had been executed by his captors. This was in late June.
Since then, bloodletting barbarians have sawed off the heads of Paul Johnson, Nick Berg, a Turkish truck driver (Durmus Kumdereli), two Bulgarian truckers (Georgi Lazov and Ivaylo Kepov), a South Korean interpreter (Kim Sun Il), and the American engineers, Jack Hensley and Eugene Armstrong. The life of Englishman Kenneth Bigley now hangs by a thread.
I am still haunted by Kim's televised plea: "Please get out of here [
As President Bush sat bone idle, never lifting a bloodstained finger to haggle for his countrymen, the Egyptian government joined with a holding company called Orascom to try and free six of its citizens.
Although her American and British "allies" condemned her, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo chose to spare rather than squander the life of hostage Angelo dela Cruz. "I cannot apologize for being a protector of my people," she said. Clearly, President Arroyo feared defying the will of the Philippine people. Why did President Bush suffer no such fear? Why did the American people not rally to demand the safe return of Jack Armstrong and Eugene Hensley?
The English people, in Kenneth Bigley's hometown of
Eugene Hensley's bereaved family prefers to believe that "the hostage takers always intended to kill the hostages." But the facts tell a different tale. No sooner have their demands been met than terrorists in
The answer is: it depends. There are manifold complexities. Certainly matters are not as simple as Bush has led sacrificial lambs like the Hensley family to believe.
When Prime Minister Ariel Sharon released 430 Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners in exchange for three dead Israelis and one live one, people worried, and for good reason. Many of the prisoners were said to be very dangerous men. The late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin would probably have supported the
Abandoning hostages as this administration has done as a matter of "principle" is thus not an option, at least not an ethical one. President Bush bears the mark of Cain for looking on as Americans continue to be butchered. The American people are stained as well.
The argument that by negotiating with terrorists we may embolden them doesn't bear a moment's examination. How much bolder could these monsters get? What can Abu Musab al-Zarqawi do that he has not yet done? In
Releasing "Dr. Germ" and "Mrs. Anthrax" in exchange for Bigley would be well worth it. After all, what threat do these women now present? All bets are that their lives will revolve around satisfying the lowest of Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Saddam's scientists will be too busy seeking shelter and sustenance to trek to Syria to bring back the chemical weapons Bill O'Reilly assures us are there so as to peddle them to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
George W. Bush has never so much as pronounced the names of the flesh and blood Americans beheaded in
If you can't honor Americans in life, Mr. President, at least you can remember them in death.
©By ILANA MERCER
September 30, 2004