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Weekly Muse
My humble opinion on current events

October 22, 2001

Is Violence the Answer?

David Wells, a teacher at Arizona State University and human rights activist for something called the Arizona Alliance for Peaceful Justice, wrote an editorial in the Arizona Republic last week called "Violent response not the answer to terror tactics."

Mr. Wells has "grave concerns" about America's military actions in Afghanistan. Citing as evidence two callers to talk radio shows in a country of nearly three hundred million, he frets, "Are we demonizing and objectifying the enemy, so that any unintended victim in Afghanistan is now "collateral damage?" Are we becoming more like bin Laden in our language and actions as "America Strikes Back?" He then states, without attribution, that "at least 200 innocent Afghans have already been killed."

Wells merely repeats an already tired refrain. The U.S. is no better than Osama bin Laden if it does anything that any peacenik doesn't like. Usually that involves the killing of innocents. Wells completely ignores the distinction between bin Laden targeting innocent people and the U.S. targeting military and terrorist bad guys, while doing its very best to avoid any collateral damage. All one and the same to Wells. 

Besides, Bush and others are constantly pointing out that our beef is with the Taliban and the terrorists, not the Afghanistan people. If we're "objectifying" anyone, it's despotic rulers and ruthless murderers, not Afghani sheep herders. We're dropping food to the Afghanis, most of whom would starve without it. 

But Wells cares little for that. In fact, he despises Bush's challenge to every American child to send one dollar to help Afghani children, calling it "a highly contradictory message when viewed from outside the United States. One dollar won't bring back the mother or father of an orphaned child."

Following his own logic, no one should contribute any money to victims of 9-11, since it won't bring back a murdered mother or father. Of course it won't, but it can provide food, clothing, shelter, and health care to an orphan. Assume there are at least fifty million children in the U.S., and each sends one dollar to Afghanistan. That fifty million dollars could do a lot of good for suffering Afghani children. But Wells believes you shouldn't bother. What compassion for the children!

Wells generously concedes that "we must apprehend and bring to justice those responsible for the attacks," but "violence" is not the answer. Well, then, what is? How are we to apprehend them? Peaceful demonstrations in Islamabad? Hunger strikes? Wells doesn't say. Most peaceniks don't - it's so much easier to spout nice-sounding platitudes than offer real solutions.

But Wells does propose going after the root of terrorism, which is "fundamental denial of basic human rights by governments assisted by the United States." He cites Israel, for "disproportionate violence and oppression to every act of violence or non-violence by Palestinians seeking an end to Israeli occupation." This violence by Israel has "deepened the conflict" between democratic Israel and the despotic PLO. 

So remember, the next time a PLO or Hamas or Hezebollah terrorist assassinates an Israeli prime minister, or blows up innocent civilians in a mall or pizza parlor, it's Israel's fault for going after the terrorists. It's Israel's fault that those Palestinians murder - they're merely responding to the presence of Jews in the Middle East. Blame the Jews! 

He also criticizes the supposedly "moderate" Muslim regime in Saudi Arabia, which tramples dissent. But if Saudi Arabia violates human rights, and the violation of human rights is the root of terrorism, then why did 19 Saudi-born terrorists fly thousands of miles to attack America? Why didn't they bomb Riyadh? Wells seems to think that these terrorists should be mad at the U.S. rather than their very own governments for their government's oppression.

Such sophomoric reasoning might be funny if it didn't lead to such tragic consequences. Wells implies that Israel and America should respond to violence by giving in to whatever the attacker demands. Does he really believe that Arafat and his fellow terrorists would stop fighting if Israel gives them everything they want? Of course not, because Arafat's real goal is the total elimination of the Jewish state. Concession emboldens the attacker and deflates the defender. Bullies respond to only one thing, and that is overwhelming force. They do not care about treaties. Words on paper will not dissuade them. 

If Wells is so concerned for human rights, why does he not even mention the Taliban? These monsters are true tyrants. Under Taliban rules, men are free to beat their wives. Women are forbidden to read or work, and must cover their entire body, head to toe, in heavy fabric just to venture outside. The majority of women don't even leave their homes. The Taliban are hated by most Afghanis. But Wells gives them a pass, which is quite revealing. He condemns the only democracy in the Middle East and the freest country in the history of the world and ignores what could be the most repressive regime in the world, a regime that harbors the murderers of innocents. 

And he calls himself a human rights activist.

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