The Occasional Muse
My humble opinion on current events
July 1, 2002
Most of you by now have seen this photo of
the Palestinian toddler dressed as a suicidal murderer. The Israeli army
found the photograph while searching the house of the tot's father, Nader
Abu Turki, whom the Israelis believe is a member of the terrorist group
Hamas. The Palestinian Authority immediately branded the photo an Israeli
forgery, and like much what the PA claims, that was a lie. The boy's
grandfather, Redwan Abu Turki, admits the photo is real. It was taken at a
university rally, explained Turki, "just for the fun of
There is something very wrong about any
person, Palestinian or otherwise, who thinks it's fun to dress up an
innocent as a murderer. How many Palestinians feel this way? We know there
are many, based on interviews and polls, but do a majority of Palestinians
approve of murder? How many other Palestinians think this photo is jolly
This past April, Weekly Standard publisher
Terry Eastland wrote
of the "Palestinian culture of death," in which he reported
that Palestinian polls have shown that 60 percent of Palestinians approve
of suicide bombers. That's a scary number, and it raises an even scarier
question: What would a Palestinian state look like? Would it be a
functioning, prosperous, and peaceful democracy, as many hope, or simply
another corrupt and authoritarian terrorist state? Writes Eastland: "Finally in a position to build a state, the Palestinians would have to
confront vices produced by the years of suicide bombing. Those include a
willingness to devalue human life, a tendency to ignore such
considerations as personal safety and basic feelings for others, and
little patience with compromise."
Eastland isn't optimistic. The Palestinians
must "quit their passion for killing others by killing
themselves," and he doesn't see that passion disappearing when (and
if) the Palestinian state becomes a reality.
This photo taken "just for the fun of
it" shows that at least one Palestinian hasn't yet given up that
passion, and there's little indication that others have done so. That's
why I wasn't quite as thrilled as many conservatives were with President
Dubya's Middle East speech a week ago, in which he called for free
elections and new leadership in the Palestinian Authority. If Palestinians
want their state, they must elect leaders who are not terrorists. He
stated, without explicitly saying so, that Yassir Arafat must go. Reading
between the lines, Dubya demanded that the Palestinians elect someone
other than Arafat, someone who is serious about peace, if they want their
This photo demonstrates the folly of such a
policy. It's very likely, almost certain, that the Palestinians will
reelect Arafat, mainly because he remains popular, but also because
Arafat is unlikely to allow any serious opposition.
The U.S. then has two options. Reject
Arafat, or, in other words, the results of a (hopefully, but not likely)
free and fair election. This would make us look like hypocrites and liars.
We preach democracy to others, but reject it when the results don't go our
way. Sure, we may be able to prove the election was a sham, as the 1996
one was, but who would believe it? We'd lose credibility and stature,
Arafat would be more firmly entrenched, and it would be open season on
women and children for the terrorists.
The other option is to work with Arafat,
but it's hard to see how, since we demanded the elections with the sole
purpose of ousting Arafat from power. Besides, why would he want to work
with us? What does he need the U.S. for, now that he's been reelected?
I'm not optimistic that Dubya's plan
will work or that peace will break out any time soon. Such is the power of
one little photograph.
Rodeo fire suspect
Authorities have arrested a suspect who
confessed to starting the Rodeo fire that to this date has burned more
than 464,000 acres and destroyed at least 423 homes and businesses in
The human torch, Leonard Gregg, 29, is a
member of the White Mountain Apache tribe. Unemployed and upset at his
parent's heavy drinking, he set the fire so he could work more hours.
According to his brother, Gregg has been "fascinated" by fire
since he was a child.
A lot of people are mad at Gregg, and
understandably so. I'm pretty peeved, because I've hiked and camped in the
area, and it's beautiful. Not anymore. It will take two or three
generations before the forest recovers.
Since Gregg is an Apache, many are also
angry at the tribe, which is raising fears of white racism against
Indians. Many evacuees have blamed the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the
tribe for the fire's destruction, believing the two should have done more
to contain the blaze, which Gregg started on reservation land. Tribal
officials are worried that Show Low and other residents in the area may
boycott one of the tribe's biggest revenue producers, the Hon-Dah Casino.
Some perspective here. Those whose homes
were destroyed, damaged, or threatened have every right to be upset and
angry, especially at Gregg. They may even by mad at the Indians and say
stupid things. But being mad at the Apaches because one of their own set
the fire isn't the same as hating an Indian because he's an Indian.
The situation is bad enough. Introducing
the race card will only make it worse. And that goes for everyone. In
other words, Apaches should not mistake righteous anger for hatred, and
evacuees shouldn't blame all Indians because of one man's actions.
Too late to meet Mojo
Mojo finally got buried the other day. It's
Who's Mojo? Mojo is an 80-year-old embalmed
corpse kept in a back room of a morgue since the 1920s. The body is
apparently that of a 15-year-old teen who had run away. The mortician
received the body, embalmed it, placed it in a pine coffin covered with a
wire screen, and set it aside. When the poverty-stricken family arrived to
claim the body, the mortician gave them a bill for $108, and the family
said, "Well, for $108, you can keep him."
The mortician stood the coffin in the
corner of a back room and it's been there ever since. Employees who
gambled in the room thought the corpse gave them good luck, because the
lips were pulled up in what looked like a smile. So they named him Mojo.
The funeral home has been sold many times, but Mojo has stayed. Until the
latest owner wanted no more of Mojo, and buried him last Wednesday in a
funeral that was attended by 60 people.
I know it may be wrong to think like this,
story, reported by the Washington Post yesterday, is too funny.