I am not a hand-wringing, soft-spoken, lips-pursing pacifist! I believe in personal and national self-defense. But I have an unconventional view of terrorism. Of course, the U.S. should apprehend, try, convict, and execute all persons who knowingly aided and abetted the terrorism perpetrated in Washington and New York City, and if authorities KNOW the country or countries responsible, then strike them hard.
However, we must keep in mind that there is a big difference in a terrorist government and innocent civilians of that government. There is also a difference in warfare waged against a nation and war waged against terrorists.
Columnist Ann Coulter jumped up and down for total war when she wrote: “We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren’t punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That’s war. And this is war.” Ann often makes sense but she was writing nonsense that day. However, she expressed the emotions of most Americans when she made her stupid statement, but if the U.S. kills innocent civilians then how are we better than the terrorists? Are some conservatives cheerleading for a total war instead of a just war?
Some questions for the likes of Ann: How much freedom are we willing to surrender to political leaders to gain some temporary safety? What nations should we carpet-bomb? How many innocent civilians should we be willing to kill? How many American soldiers are we willing to bring home in body bags? Are we willing to loose atomic bombs upon “terrorist” nations? Are we prepared for their retaliation? Also, how do we “kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity?” Do we convert them first, then kill them? Or was she suggesting that we only convert the followers of the national leaders? And Ann, don’t you know that one can be converted to Christianity and not be converted to Christ? That is the crux of our problem today: many people are only professors of Christ without ever possessing Him.
Most “Christian” nations have held that civilians were off limits in wartime. (So how do many Americans justify the allied fire bombing of Dresden, Germany in 1945 where over 25,000 innocent civilians were horribly killed? No, it was not a military target. No military assets. It was done to terrify the population. Other German cities were bombed simply because they would “burn well!”) Maybe some more historical background will help put terrorism in perspective.
In the seventh century, Isidore, archbishop of Seville, stated: “That war is lawful and just which is waged upon command in order to recover property or to repel attack.” Well, few sensible people could disagree with that notion of war, and Isidore’s standard for military conduct worked fairly well for hundreds of years. Then things started going downhill!
In the eleventh century Jerusalem was taken by Muslim Turks who harassed Christian pilgrims en route to the Holy Land. To make matters even worse, the Turks were almost at the gates of Constantinople. Byzantine emperor, Alexius I Comnenus asked Pope Urban II to help defend his city. The pope agreed and personally preached the First Crusade to the French in 1095. His message was: “Hey, fellows run down to Constantinople and secure it. Then skip down to Jerusalem and take it from a handful of Turks.” That kind of warfare could still be justified under Isidore’s proclamation, at least in the minds of the “faithful.” Varies Crusades followed that First Crusade.
Since that time, the followers of Islam have had a seething hatred toward professing Christians. Both Muslims and “Christians” perpetrated incredible terror on the other. “Christian” crusaders even terrorized and slaughtered thousands of Jews in Germany. Over 10,000 Jews and non-Jews were butchered in Cologne in one incident in 1096.
Then in 1209 Pope Innocent III encouraged the King of Denmark to be even more warlike by going a step further to “extirpate the error of paganism and spread the frontiers of the Christian faith.” With this further justification and expansion of war, the killing of civilians was now countenanced by the Roman Catholic Church in order to expand the Church and to extirpate the pagans. (Extirpate is a $5.00 word meaning “to destroy completely.”)
Forget just wars. It was now acceptable to kill unbelievers who refused to convert, and for hundreds of years the Crusades left a trail of blood from France, Germany and Spain to Jerusalem as “Christians” tried to “do God’s work” in killing the Turks! (In all fairness, the Vatican recently condemned the Israelis’ over reactions toward the Palestinians and also the American bombing and embargo of Iraq. The Church did so because it is civilians who are dying, not Saddam Hussain, Arafat, and their fellow butchers.)
And the killing continues today! Present day unbelievers must understand that just because people call themselves “Christian” or “Muslim” does not mean they are genuine. We must also keep in mind that all Arabs are not Muslims and all Muslims are not America-hating fanatics, although about a hundred verses in the Koran do call for violence against “unbelievers” or “infidels.” However, many moderate Muslims do not accept that concept of violence, but they are being dishonest when they say that Islam is a religion of peace. Islam does not mean “peace” but “submission”! They have brought nations into submission for hundreds of years with the skillful and unrelenting use of the sword.
Christians should also understand that Christ died for the Arabs as well as Americans, and their babies are as loved by Christ as are ours. Hatred against anyone is not wise, Scriptural, necessary or productive. So, I expect the U.S. Government to use discretion in the use of power and to exercise power according to the Constitution, and the motive must be justice not revenge. And I will not join the cheerleaders for a war against innocent civilians just to satisfy a taste for blood
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Thank you for this article and reminding us that, in our anger, we can easily start justifying the killing of a multitude of innocents. I often catch myself yelling at the nightly news, “Just wipe out the whole country then the rest of these Muslim hoodlums, observing the smoldering ashes, will leave us alone.”
I thought Ann Coulter was just being facetious about converting them to Christianity, but perhaps you’re right and she really believes that’s all Christianity is - a label.