Friday, June 12, 2009

Using a Kid to Bomb a Mosque: Non-Western Cultural Values, Just Plain Evil, or Something Else?

If I read the score right, three people in al-Shawaf Mosque in Baghdad were killed, and a dozen injured, when a 15-year-old kid threw a grenade. The kid also killed others, including an Iraqi parliament member.

The kid exchanged fire with guards at the mosque, and was killed.

Using Kids as cast Cat's-Paws: Evil, or a Non-Western Value System?

One thing I learned in college was that to fit into the more 'sophisticated' circles, it was necessary to recognize all cultures as being of equal value, with non-western cultures being more equal. Criticism of non-western cultures, unless it was on the basis of environmental impact, saving the whales, or some other worthy topic, marked one as a pariah. Not everybody on all campuses had quite that 'enlightened' a view of reality, but it was not at all uncommon, either.

People steeped in the Eurocentric, male-dominated, traditional American culture might regard using a fifteen-year-old boy as a disposable cat's-paw as "bad."

Letting my college training kick in, I could explain how, in the cultural context, it's perfectly okay to use kids this way: it's even a commendable act. But, I did that last weekend. (June 7, 2009)

Iraq's government doesn't seem to be quite that 'enlightened.' Iraq's Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki, ordered an investigation after the American military released the report that inspired last weekend's post.

And, seriously, I'm one of those people who think that, although the old-fashioned, jingoistic notion that the world is divided into "people" and "foreigners" is at best silly, there are some things that are, simply, wrong. Looks like I'm not the only one to have such a 'narrow' view of things:
"...'To endanger children with acts of terrorism is despicable,' said Lt. Col. Hugh McNeely, the deputy commander of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry. 'But when terrorists actively recruit them to risk their lives for goals that the child probably doesn't even understand is evil. There's just no other way to say it.'..." (CNN)
An important point, before moving on: I think that using an unwitting stooge - of any age - in a lethal attack is wrong. I do not know enough about what the dead teenager knew, and what he believed was happening, to pass any sort of judgment on him or the people who sent him.

And, finally, no: I don't think that whoever wound that kid up and pointed him toward al-Shawaf Mosque and the member of parliament was your "typical" Muslim. From what I've read, and Muslims I've corresponded with, I think there may not be a "typical" Muslim, or "typical" form of Islam.

Islam seems, in many cases at least, to be a veneer set over a region's existing cultural values and practices. That's very 'democratic,' in a way: but also help explain why Muslims bomb mosques now and again.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.