Christian Peacemaker Teams have been in Iraq since October 2002, investigating allegations that U.S. and Iraqi forces abused Iraqi detainees. (CBC News) On Friday, evidence of a horrifying human right abuse finally came to light:
An innocent, noncombatant detainee in Baghdad was tortured and killed.
The Christian Peacemaker Teams are speaking out in the strongest possible terms against this abuse, torture, and unlawful killing of a human being.
Or are they?
Christian Peacemaker co-directors Doug Pritchard and Carol Rose said in a statement:
"In response to Tom's passing, we ask that everyone set aside inclinations to vilify or demonize others, no matter what they have done." (U.K. Independent)
Huh? We are not to "vilify" or "demonize" those who have illegally detained, tortured, abused and murdered an innocent man?
The problem is that the deceased torture victim was not detained, tortured, abused or killed by U.S. or by Iraqi forces.
He was killed by Iraqi terrorists who call themselves the "Swords of Righteousness Brigade." They kidnapped Tom Fox and three others off the streets of Baghdad in November 2005. After holding the hostages for months, they've now apparently decided to further demonstrate their commitment to human rights by slaughtering one of the four hostages and dumping his body in the street.
Ironically, the torture victim, Tom Fox, 54, of Clear Brook, Va., was a member of the very same group of Christian Peacemaker Teams that went to Iraq to investigate allegations that U.S. and Iraqi forces had abused detainees.
But now Doug Pritchard and Carol Rose, leaders of the same activist organization, are calling for the terrorists not to be "vilified" or "demonized" for the death of Tom Fox.
If we can't condemn those who deliberately abduct, torture, and murder an innocent man, who can we condemn?
Can it be that Doug Pritchard and his fellow activists are such advanced souls that they can forgive anybody for anything? After all, Jesus taught us to forgive our enemies. Is superhuman forgiveness behind Doug Pritchard's statement that nobody should be vilified or demonized, "no matter what they have done"?
To answer that, we must ask whether Pritchard's call to "set aside inclinations to vilify or demonize others, no matter what they have done" includes, say, the United States and the Iraqi government.
Unfortunately, the answer to that question is no.
The United States of America and the fledgling democracy of Iraq get all sorts of "vilification" and "demonization" from "peacemaker" Doug Pritchard. Here are two examples:
"We were the first to publicly denounce the torture of the Iraqi people held by occupation forces," CPT co-director Doug Pritchard told the BBC. (BBC News, 11/30/05)
“Much of the goodwill that came with the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime has been thrown away by the brutality of the US occupation,” said Doug Pritchard, co-director of Christian Peacemaker Teams . . . . (Ekklesia, 1/17/06)
That's right. This bunch of activists have no problem with vilifying and demonizing the United States by claiming that it "tortures" the "Iraqi people" and is engaging in "brutality" and "occupation."
Apparently if the U.S. wants to avoid vilification, it needs to do exactly what the "Swords of Righteousness Brigades" did to Tom Fox.
Instead of trying to hold, feed and clothe detainees, provide them with access to Muslim clergy, supply Korans, etc., the U.S. should just kidnap innocent people at random, release videotapes threatening them with death, and then torture and kill them in cold blood and leave their bodies in the streets.
That seems to play well with the "Peacemakers" crowd, anyway.
Or here's another idea. A completely different idea:
Let's recognize genuine evil, for a change. Not only is it intellectually and morally honest, but it might even save your life. According to the Independent, Iraqi and Western security officials repeatedly warned the activists before their abduction that they were taking a grave risk by moving around Baghdad without bodyguards.
And let's learn to distinguish between genuine evil and basic decency with room for improvement.
- Attempts to embarrass detainees at Abu Ghraib by U.S. soldiers who were subsequently court-martialed and penalized for it: Basic decency with room for improvement.
- Kidnapping innocent civilians off a Baghdad street, releasing a threatening video, torturing and killing one of the civilians and throwing his body in the street: Genuine evil.
But these activists seem to be unable or unwilling to make these basic moral distinctions. For these folks, America is always wrong when it comes to the war on terror, and especially the war in Iraq.
Admitting that there is a worse evil in Iraq than America, and that America is fighting that evil right now, would be too painful.
And if that means giving terrorists a pass for abducting four of their own fellow activists and torturing and murdering at least one of them, so be it.
Update 3/23/06: The three remaining hostages have been rescued by American and British troops. Incredibly, there was not a word of thanks for their rescuers. Read more here: Hostages Freed by U.S and U.K. Troops; Their Group Fails to Thank Their Rescuers