Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Industry from Hell

A suicide bomber killed Hakim Taniwal and two colleagues two days ago, and then at his funeral yesterday another suicide bomber killed seven more, including two boys aged 10 and 12, maiming forty more. Suicide bombing is not typically Afghan; it is an import from elsewhere. And it is not Islamic. But wherever it was invented it was never natural; it is a cultural product: it has to be produced. And as a cultural product it is never the only possible solution to a situation.

It is now an industry: Suicide bombing has come to be practiced - not just as an occasional act of a few (as in London) but as a way of life -in several places: Palestine/Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan/Pakistan, Kashmir; and it seems to have been practiced in such places as India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, the Philippines.

For such an industry to exist it has to be conceived and formulated, discussed, promoted. People have to meet and plan and organize. Funds have to be provided. Buildings have to be built or rented for training, teachers have to be trained, explosives and equipment have to be bought and collected, photographs and videos of "martyrs" have to be made, copied, circulated, promoted. Children have to be socialized over a period of years - that is, fed, housed, clothed, trained, taught to believe that to blow themselves up is the highest form of spiritual service. Officials have to turn a blind eye; neighbors have to remain silent. Hundreds of people, perhaps thousands, are implicated in this practice. Although secluded, it is not being done in a corner.

Some crimes are so heinous that one recoils from even describing them. It is too easy to condemn - can this be ourselves? Human beings? What an image of humanity is displayed in such hideous practices. We pray for God to save us from such a scourge. But I also pray for the whole industry with all its ugliness to be exposed for what it is. The ancient wisdom is still true: "men love darkness because their deeds are evil and they will not come into the light lest their deeds be exposed." And a voice with terrifying authority still speaks to the authors of such monstrous practices: "Woe to you teachers of the law ... for you traverse sea and land to make a single disciple and when he becomes a disciple you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves."

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