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"Write out of love, write out of instinct, write out of reason. But always for money."
Louis Untermeyer

The Occasional Muse
My humble opinion on current events

July 1, 2002

Jihad Junior

Jihad Junior

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 it." 

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 good fun?

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 country.

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 confesses

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 northeastern Arizona.

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 about time.

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, but this story, reported by the Washington Post yesterday, is too funny.

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