Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Redefining 'terrorism'

As many of you have heard, there is a common saying, incredibly misused, that 'one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.' I know that many on the right look at that as laughable moral equivalence. However, in many senses, that quotations has relevance. And so, what exactly does that mean? When is terrorism ever justified? Is it ever justified? And does that mean that the Islamofascists are fighting a just war, simply using the resources at their disposal?

My answer is that terrorism COULD be justified...under very limited circumstances. The cause must be THAT GREAT. An example of justified terrorism was when my grandma's friend's husband committed acts of terror against the local Polish population in order to save 1200 Jews during the Holocaust. In that instance, the ends of saving Jews was a noble cause. The Jews were being systematically slaughtered, and the Polish were helping in the genocide. Tevia Bielski did what he had to do to save the number of Jews he helped save.

A more controversial example of possibly justified terrorism was when the American patriots during the Revolutionary War terrorized the loyalists in order to win against the British troops. It is great that the US is independent of the UK, and it worked out in the end. But were the tactics justified? It's not as clear cut as the above example, because there was no genocide going on.

This brings me to the current Islamofascists. They use terrorism as a means to an end, and the justification they use for it is that they are only doing what they can to fight against an enemy with disproportionate weapons. But then we have to look at what the world would be like if they win. There would be no religious freedom (save for the surviving dhimmis), no freedom of thought, women's rights would be nonexistent, human rights would be a joke, and a brutal dictatorship would be in power. They claim that a benign form of an Islamic Caliphate would be in control, but there is no such benign Islamic government in the WORLD at the moment, and it is clear that they are only fooling themselves when they say such ludicrousness. In short, life would not be worth living if they win. Their cause is NOT worthy of their despicable tactics!

Moreover, one has to ask if in fact they are being treated so awfully, that jihad is their only option - basically, jihad or die. And the answer to that is also no. In fact, the only places where Muslims are being indiscriminately killed are in MUSLIM COUNTRIES! More Muslims have killed Muslims than anyone else.

Is this a cause worth fighting for? And is the evil the fact that it is terrorism? I would argue no. I would argue the evil is the fact that terrorism is being used for such a horrifying goal. We are NOT fighting a 'war on terror.' We are fighting a war against Islamofascism.

30 comments:

Jason said...

Well, to me its rather simple.

In the case of saving jews, it was to save people in immediate danger of death.

In the case of the revolutionar war, it was part of a real fight for freedom against a corrupt regime.

In the case of islamic fascism, it is done just because they know they can't convince anyone to adopt their positions so they chooce to simply scare them in to it instead.

The muslim fascists are doing it just to get their own pet ideology in power, and nothing else. They could just as easily live their lives without being dictators, but they've chosen to follow the path of drooling idiocy.

Red Tulips said...

Jason:

Very well said!

Ibrahamav said...

I believe it is the acts themselves which are terrorism.

Blowing up a polish kindergarten full of 5 year old poles is an act of terrorism, no matter what the cause.

Blowing up the head of the polish city which is organizing genocide, even though surrounded by his family, is not.

Lobbing missles nilly willy into a town full of Poles is terrorism. Blowing up an apartment building where the head of the army which is planning genocide is currently sitting at dinner, surrounded by his 5 children, their 20 children, and housing 50 other families having Christmas dinner is not terrorism. Pretty stupid and insane and not justified, but not terrorism.

Red Tulips said...

Ibramhamov:

Certainly there are some acts of terror that are NEVER justified. I wasn't implying that. But nonetheless, what the Patriots did during the Revolutionary War WAS terrorism. And yet it is today considered justified.

Something to think about.

shlemazl said...

Great article. King David hotel is another example of terrorism.

I actually think that intentionally and knowingly targeting civilians is terrorism and is not acceptable whatever the justification.

In some cases there are mitigating circumstances.

Ibrahamav said...

I'm not certain the the King David incident was terrorism as the residents were given ample warning to the impending disaster.

As I recall, the British refused to evacuate the building.

Red Tulips said...

Ibrahamov and Shlemazl:

Moreover, the King David Hotel was also a military target. (it had munitions inside) I view that as a borderline case at best - not a clear example of terrorism.

shlemazl said...

The British claimed they received the warning too late and it is in any case irrelevant. IRA gave warnings in most cases before it blew up buildings and towns, so what?

Never heard about the weapons, but KD hotel was used as headquarters for the British army.

Jason H. Bowden said...

While I believe the ends justify the means, it is important that your ends justify your means. In short, by saying the ends justify the means, one does not commit oneself to saying any end justifies all means to attain it; only that, if the end is morally important enough, then a certain class of means will be appropriate to attain it.

Red Tulips said...

Jason H. Bowden:

That pretty much sums up how I feel. It is an important clarification, thanks!

Ibrahamav said...

It would hope that you would take a step back from that statement. Ending the nuclear threat to Israel by turning Iran into a land of glass is not justifiable.

First off, just turning Tehran into glass would probably do the trick.

Jason said...

""""While I believe the ends justify the means, it is important that your ends justify your means. In short, by saying the ends justify the means, one does not commit oneself to saying any end justifies all means to attain it; only that, if the end is morally important enough, then a certain class of means will be appropriate to attain it.""""

I can't believe you actually said something that makes sense.

Although I'm sure we would have different idea over what ends justified what means.

But I think your basic idea is more or less sound.

Red Tulips said...

ibrahamov:

I am not sure where you saw my advocating nuking Iran in anything I wrote?

I don't actually advocate nuking Iran, though I would probably not object to targeted military strikes at nuclear facilities, if that could be achieved without causing WWIII.

Ibrahamav said...

Nothing in your post advocated nuking Iran. I was merely speculating as to what ends justified what means.

Ibrahamav said...

By the way, what happened to my original comment on Darfur? It just up and went away.

Red Tulips said...

Ibrahamov:

I did not touch your original post about Darfur. I don't know what happened.

Ibrahamav said...

A shame. It was brilliant.

Bint Alshamsa said...

I don't think that when people use the "one man's terrorist..." cliche it's necessarily an attempt to justify a particular action as morally acceptable. I think it is simply a way of saying that who gets labeled a terrorist depends on what the labeler's interests are in the particular issue. I mean, if my favorite cousin goes out and kills a bus full of Japanese people, am I likely to view it as terrorism or just a case of road rage gone too far? The more we feel like we have in common with a group of people, the less likely we are to condemn their actions. That's human nature. It's because when we see ourselves in someone, it becomes to easier to be lenient with them as we'd want someone to be with us. If we can't relate to someone at all, then it's not such a problem to enact the harshest of punishments against them because we don't see ourselves as ever being anything like them.

First of all, this term "Islamofascists" makes absolutely no sense. It is specifically because America does not consider these people to be lawful combatants that it is claimed that the Geneva Convention standards do not apply to them. If this were some Islamofascist war then it would have to be against a particular government's army. I really wish that these labels would stop being thrown around so haphazardly. It only muddles the issues.

I do not believe that terrorism is ever justified. The problem with saying that the cause must be "THAT GREAT" is that those who engage in terrorist acts almost always feel that their cause is "THAT GREAT" even though the people who are their victims usually disagree. I can't think of a single group that has engaged in terrorist acts that did not think their actions were justifiable. I do not see how terrorism saves lives. It simply exchanges one type of atrocity for another. I see nothing ethical about that, especially since the majority of people who are victims of terrorism aren't necessarily guilty of anything. Yes, Jews were being systematically slaughtered. To me, the answer to that is for the slaughterers to stop killing NOT for other people to also become killers. Jews becoming killers did/does not prove that Jewish life is not cheap. It only proves that some Jews do not value life any more than the people who were willing to kill them. It's basically the equivalent of me as a parent spitting on my kid in order to teach my child that spitting on people is not acceptable. It just isn't logical despite whatever temporary satisfaction some may get from killing those they consider their enemies.

I'm sure that if you asked the "Rebels" if their cause was great enough to justify terrorizing those who disagreed with them, they'd have said it was. Why? Because people generally don't want to believe that they are unethical no matter what they do. I do not see genocide as an excuse for engaging in terrorism as we discussed before because if I were to believe this, then it would completely ethical for me to go out and kill anyone who isn't a Native American. With the number of Native Americans that have been slaughtered being much higher than the number of Jews that were killed, then the case for killing non-Native Americans would be even greater, would it not?

All terrorism is a means to an end. If the terrorizers didn't hope to accomplish something, then there would be no point in engaging in terrorist actions. It's rather scarey to hear that some think that we should judge who lives or dies based on what we think of their religious tenets and traditions.

Weren't these the same sort of arguments that the Nazis made about what might happen if Jews were allowed to take over the world? The consequences that they claimed would result was used as a justification for engaging in atrocious killings but it was all conjecture, mere speculation. We don't know what a world run by Jews would be like any more than we know what a world run by Muslims would be like. I think that both hypothetical situations would probably depend on what specific individuals from these faiths were put in charge. But even if there was the possibility that an evil Jewish or Muslim world-government might come to power and make the world the sort of place that's uncomfortable for people like me, I still don't think that it would be acceptable for me to kill Jews or Muslims. I don't think that entire groups should suffer because they don't promote the sort of lifestyle that I prefer.

If killing others is not the only option available to Muslims, then it's only logical that this is not the only option available for any other individual or group. We can all decide not to be killers and the sooner that people stop believing that death can be a path to peace, the better off we all will be. I don't feel any safer when a Muslim is killed than I do when a Jew is killed or when a Hindu or Buddhist or a Christian is killed. It all increases the likelihood that eventually it will be me that's killed...or worse yet, my child.

Your argument about where Muslims are "indiscriminately killed" is also illogical. The Nazis claimed to have good reasons for killing Jews. I don't buy that any more than I buy into the arguments that people have legitimate reasons for killing Muslims.

As long as people accept the argument that some killing is justified all killing will be found justifiable by someone.

Red Tulips said...

Bint alshamsa:

Firstly, there absolutely is indiscriminate killing that is done by the Islamofascists. And I call them that for good reason:

http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=OGEyNjcyNzBjYTQ2MDM0ZGIzZjY5YjhhMzViYjdjNTA=

The killing done by the Islamofascist terrorists is done withotu regard to who is killed. Suicide bombing inherently is not targeted at any one person.

Secondly, the Bielski Brothers (who saved 1200 Jews in the Holocaust) absolutely did not indiscriminately kill. They killed the Polish peasants who cooperated with the Nazis that led to Jewish death. It could be argued these people were not civilians since they were actively helping the Nazis. That said, they did go beyond killing informers - they also killed the families of informers. Was that justified? Well, it's hard to say. But it's also hard to demonize them and say they were evil. I don't think it's clear cut NOT justified, because they did so in order to not only stay alive but literally save over a thousand people from genocide.

In contrast, Native Americans are not facing genocide today. Revenge killing is wholly different than killing in order to stay alive. The only parallel situation that one could make is whether the Native Americans hundreds of years ago were justified in their terrorism against the American settlors. In some instances they were actually facing a genocide, and killed settlors to prevent a genocide. I would argue that this is in many ways parallel to the Bielski Brothers. One could argue that in that instance, the terrorism was justified if they fit the parameters Jason Bowden set.

Sometimes it is a kill or be killed world. What you are advocating is a utopia. That is a fact of life. Islamofascists do not have to face a kill or be kill world. They CHOOSE to kill to advance their despicable goals. But in an actually kill or be killed world, I would argue that terrorism is at least understandable.

Finally, the Jews NEVER actually tried to rule the world. You are arguing for a hypothetical. Hitler was spouting a LIE. In contrast, the Islamofascists ARE trying to rule the world. That is why it is called Islamofascism. They seek to create an Islamic Caliphate.

Something to think about.

Bint Alshamsa said...

I read that piece by Hanson over a week ago. No matter what he says, it doesn't change the actual definition of fascism. Saying that fascists and Muslims think the same way ergo they are the same thing is just illogical. I mean, if you and I like Tulips, think they are the most beautiful flower in the world, and deep down inside harbor a desire for there to be many more tulips in the world, does that mean that I'm a Jewish Atheist? It's just not logical.

How are you judging whether or not someone is engaging in violence without regard for who is killed? How many non-military people do they have to have killed before we should just assume that they don't care who the kill? No bombing is targeted at any one person. Just think about this. Can anyone really drop activate a bomb and expect people to believe that the bomber thought only one person might be killed as a result? If you purposely activate a bomb, then you are engaging in an action that is designed to kill more than one person. If you're intentions are to kill an individual then you can do that with a gun or a knife or a really sharp pair of scissors.

I don't see violence as being any more acceptable because it wasn't indiscriminate. If someone goes out and kills my dad because they don't like his politics or if they kill him because he happens to be the first guy they run into on their way home from the gun store, my loved on is still just as dead and that person is still just as much a killer.

Sure, someone can say that the Polish people in question weren't civilians but they'd still be wrong because unless these people were members of the military, then they were indeed civilians. As such, the killing of them only meant that more killers now existed. That's just not an ethical improvement to me.

It certainly isn't hard for me to say whether it was justifiable to kill the families of those who supposedly cooperated with Nazis. It was wrong. See, that was easy. Do you know why it's easy for me to say that? It's because I would say the same thing if someone wanted to kill your family because they didn't like something that you did. We don't need to use terms like evil in order to say that people shouldn't go around killing those who happen to have unethical relatives. Sheesh!!

I am interested in hearing how you came to the determination that Native Americans are not facing genocide today. Exactly how often do Native Americans have to be killed in order for you to consider it a genocide? How many millions must have been killed by a government in order for you to say it qualifies as a genocide? Do you have any idea how many Native Americans were slaughtered and became this country's first victims of biological weapons?

We could call any killing revenge killing if someone says they are doing it because the slaughtered person had the potential to kill thousands of people. Native Americans aren't just some group that fought against the United States in the past. This is an on-going conflict.

The idea that killing someone prevented a genocide is just irrational. Couldn't someone claim that neighbor might go on to kill a bunch of kids since he has expressed a dislike for the ones that hang around his courtyard? Would that make it justifiable for someone to go out and perform a "preventive measure" by killing my neighbor the potential child-killer? I see nothing rational about killing someone because we suspect that their future actions may result in consequences that we find unfavorable. This is the same hypothetical-scenario-making that the Nazis engaged in. I don't accept the idea that killing innocent people was justifiable for them nor do I accept the idea that killing people who have committed no crime is justified for anyone else who just wants to obtain or maintain certain demographics in their particular country.

Yes, sometimes it is a kill or be killed world. Do you know why that is? It's because people keep trying to justify the killing of others. I am not advocating a Utopia. I am advocating for logic and reasoning. Is that really outside of the reach of human beings? Just as I can choose whether or not I will kill others, each person can also make the same choice (with the exception of individuals with mental retardation, of course).

If this is a kill or be killed world, then you say that terrorism is at least understandable. Well, is it or isn't it? We are all residing on the same planet, aren't we? If Muslims can choose whether or not to kill--and I believe they can--then so can Jews and Christians and Hindus and Buddhists and member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. It doesn't matter what religion you belong to, you have a choice. If you do go out and kill others, then you have made your choice and you are simply being hypocritical if you say that others shouldn't do the same.

Hey, I'm totally in agreement with you about Jews never trying to rule the world. I'm the one who keeps saying that even individuals within the same culture or religion don't all have one unified goal that they are all seeking. If those who believed that all Jews were in cahoots with each other were just buying into ethnic stereotyping, then there's no reason for us to see things any differently when people say that all the Muslims are secretly plotting to rule the world.

It takes much more than wanting to rule the world in order to make one a fascist. Furthermore, if Muslims really wanted an Islamic Caliphate then they'd have created one in their own countries already. The last time I checked the globe, there were many different nations full of muslims and each with their own distinct set of laws.

Can we ever stop giving into believing in ethnic and religious stereotypes? I'd think that since we both come from groups that were slaughtered in the millions based on this nonsense, that we'd at least be able to be in agreement about the dangers of this sort of thinking. Jews and Native Americans were once the "THEY" that people were justifying violence against. I have no desire to see any individual or group go through that. Our offspring deserve better than that.

Red Tulips said...

bint alshamsa:

It comes down to this. The Islamofascists - whose goal is to create an Islamic Caliphate that WOULD be fascist - do not have to kill or be killed. They invented that scenario. This contrasts with the Bielski Brothers, who were fighting not only for their survival, but the people they were protecting.

If it is between killing someone who is working with killers to kill me or for my death and the death of my family...I would have to choose kill the person who is a Nazi collaborator. That doesn't justify killing the family of the Nazi collaborator. (which is what happened) But in a kill or be killed world, it is absolutely your blood or their blood. And so you have to make a choice.

Every killing is still a killing - and I am sure that the Bielskis had to live with the repurcussions of what they did for the rest of their lives. But the question is whether it's justified. In our society, there are certain types of killings which are justified and lead to a NOT GUILTY verdict on the issue of murder - namely, killing in self defense and also the defense of others. If the Bielskis did not do what they did, then very clearly, people would die. So I see what they did as falling into the defense of others justified aspect of things.

What you are speaking of re: Native Americans happened in the PAST. It is not going on in the present. If, during the time in the PAST, the Native Americans decided they would kill those killing them...well...depends on the circumstance, but it could be justified. You are talking about taking a life to save a life, maybe many lives. But of course the situation was different because the Native Americans were not systematically slaughtered in the way the Jews were of the Holocaust. In many ways it was more subtle and harder to see on the day to day aspect of things, and my understanding is more Native Americans died of white man's disease and being relocated in the Trail of Tears than anything else.

Killing is NOT always wrong. If it was, society would not allow those who kill in self defense or defense of others to be considered not guilty. Instead, they would be locked up and the key would be thrown away.

Obviously there is no conspiracy of all Muslims to rule the world and I never said as much. I say 'Islamofascist' in part to distinguish them from regular Muslims. But YES, there is a conspiracy amongst Islamofascists to rule the world. It is a pathetic conspiracy, but a conspiracy nonetheless. See: Al Queda.

Red Tulips said...

Let me just clarify one point. I do not believe that the killing of the families of collaborators was justified. Understandable but not justified. But the killing of a Nazi collaborator who was actively aiding in the death of Jews? Yes - justified.

Bint Alshamsa said...

You're right. The people you call "Islamofascists" (despite how absolutely antithetical it is to the very definition of the word "fascist"), do not have to kill nor do they have to be killed. Those who do kill have chosen to become killers just as those who kill them have chosen to be killers. I myself have chosen not to be a killer. I believe that the world is a better place when people make the same choice because no matter how great someone believes their cause to be, another person may also find it to be a great cause to go out and kill them too. Killing never made people want to stop killing. If it did, then no one would ever kill more than one person.

You acknowledge that these Muslims do not have to kill the people that they do in order to survive but you haven't shown how killing the children of people who offended them was necessary for the Bielski brothers. If we should consider them to be heroes despite the fact that they killed innocent people, why shouldn't other people also consider those killers of Jewish children to be heroes. I find it absolutely impossible to admire anyone who would purposely kill a child. The thought of such a thing goes against everything that I feel as a parent myself. Even if you decided to go out and become a cannibal like Jeffrey Dahmer, I could never consider someone heroic if they went out and killed the children in your family because of your crimes. To me, you lose all claims to be acting as a protector if you go out and kill children and I apply that to EVERYONE not just Jewish people who kill children. I have no more affection for those who kill the children of Jews either. My heroes are those who did not choose to become killers of their fellow mankind.

Let's please be rational here. The quickest way to see if what you state here should be found acceptable is by seeing if we'd approve of doing the same to others.

e.g.
1. If it is between killing someone who is working with killers to kill me or for my death and the death of my family...I would have to choose kill the person who is a Jewish collaborator.

2.That doesn't justify killing the family of the feminist collaborator. (which is what happened) But in a kill or be killed world, it is absolutely your blood or their blood.

Would you say that these two statements are acceptable simply because the person saying it believed what they were claiming?

Having a legal verdict of "NOT GUILTY" has absolutely nothing to do with whether a killing was ethical. As anyone who has studied world history knows, governments do not base their laws on what is ethical; They base their laws on what is going to best serve their goals to stay in power. As a result, not all killings will be classified as murder even if the person kills in plain sight and the person who was killed had no access to a weapon at all.

If the Bielski brothers did not do what they did, then the innocent children they killed wouldn't have died as they did. Substituting one child's death for another simply because you prefer the children in a particular religion or ethnicity isn't anything that I see as an improvement in a situation.

People like Raoul Wallenberg and Oskar Schindler are proof that hundreds of thousands of lives could be saved even without killing anyone. The actions of these real life people--not some Utopian characters from a children's fairy tale--serves as an indictment against those who claim that killing or being killed was the only choice available to people during this period and every other period in time, including this one.

What I am speaking about us Native Americans is only in the past to you. Just as you see the effects of the Shoah as still impacting your life, so do us Native Americans. If we should just see it all as being in the past, despite the fact that our lands are still being taken away from us, then why not say the same to Jews? I mean, if there were no Non-Natives in this country, we wouldn't have to worry about having our lands re-appropriated and the sovereignty of our nations violated, right? Furthermore, Native Americans were systematically slaughtered in the same way as the Jews were. NDNS (i.e. Native Americans) were uprooted from their homes, had their lands confiscated by the state, transported, corralled, shot en masse, immolated, systematically infected with Smallpox, had the skin of their dead bodies made into fashion accessories, their children stolen from them and brought to re-education colonies where they were forcibly "converted" to another religion and then sent to work as servants in the society that enslaved them.

Our Struggle For Survival Isn't Just In The Past

If your understanding is that NDN suffering was mostly just the result of white man's disease and being relocated in the Trail of Tears than anything else, then it would be helpful for you to at least find out the truth before you made statements about what my ancestors went through. It wasn't hard to see on the day to day aspect unless one decided to ignore what was in plain sight just as many Germans did when the Jews were being similarly

If what a society is willing to allow proves what is ethical, then wouldn't that mean that the Shoah was okay? After all, German society accepted the judgements that Nazis made about Jews and the government didn't see any reason to lock up the Nazis and throw away the key.

One of the problems with this nonsensical term "Islamofascist" is that there is no objective way of applying it. If someone took a bomb into a building filled with Jewish children and killed himself and the children within it, was he an "Islamofascist"? If he wanted to rule the world, then how could he have planned to do so while dead and in a million pieces? Obviously, his goals were different from what you state. If that same person leaves behind a note saying that he blew up the school and himself because he wanted to show that Muslim life is not cheap, is he any different from a Jew who goes out and bombs a building full of Muslim children because he wants to prove that Jewish life is not cheap?

I say it is pathetic whenever anyone thinks they can excuse killing innocent people because some other individual offended them. My standards apply to humans regardless of their ethnic background or religion or political affiliations.

Red Tulips said...

bint alshamsa:

You are factually wrong about the Bielski Brothers have a choice about killing the collaborators. They were not in the same position as Oskar Schindler. They were not able to pay for Jewish labor to work at factories. They were hiding in the forrest, unable to transport a mass over over a thousand people beyond the forrest, hoping to simply live out the war. They would not live out the war if in fact Nazi collaborators rooted out their position. It was absolutely a kill or be kill world. They had no choice other than die or kill those who wish to kill them.

I now will apply that principle to any ethnicity and religion. During any genocide, killing the genociders and those who help them is justified. As far as Native Americans go, what I was referring to is not that Native Americans only died via the Trail of Tears or white man's disease. I said that MOST of them died that way, at least last I read. The tale of Native Americans is a tale of tragedy and sadness, don't get me wrong, and I am not minimizing it. Yes, there were wars with Native Americans. You know what? This is not an argument I want to have with you. I am not arguing that American action was justified or that Native Americans were treated well. I find it ironic that a friend of mine lionizes Andrew Jackson when he was perhaps the worst president towards the Native Americans. But anyway. Back to my point.

All this was in the past. The Holocaust also was in the past. There is no active genocide against the Native Americans. There is no active Nazi genocide against the Jews. Killing people in the present as a sort of 'crimes of the father' tale is something I would never advocate. I do not believe Jews should kill Germans, and I do not believe Native Americans have any right to kill white people. And which white people? I mean, the bulk of America today are immigrants who were NOT originally here at the time of the Native American atrocities.

And so there is no comparison of situations.

I am aware of current issues with the Native Americans. Can we agree there is no genocide, but that most of the problems stem from the problem of having an 'Indian nation(s)' within the greater nation of America? And so there are all sorts of issues of tribal autonomy, building on tribal land, etc. But no active genocide. Actually, in my opinion the worst thing for the Native Americans in the present has been casinos. It seems as if Native Americans get rich off of it, but actually, they don't.

As far as the Bielski Brothers go...it is clear that most of the 1200 Jews they saved would have died in concentration camps or ghettos, had they not interceded. But then the question is whether the ends justified their means. I believe that it took becoming an animal to defeat the Nazi animals in a war they did not ask for, nor start. Given they did save 1200 Jews, they are heroes, but very morally ambiguous ones.

Monkey Chops said...

"You are factually wrong about the Bielski Brothers have a choice about killing the collaborators... They were hiding in the forrest, unable to transport a mass over over a thousand people beyond the forrest, hoping to simply live out the war. They would not live out the war if in fact Nazi collaborators rooted out their position. It was absolutely a kill or be kill world. They had no choice other than die or kill those who wish to kill them."

Furthermore, correct me if I'm wrong, you're saying when a group of people face destruction, those who kill the collaborators and the families of collaborators are "morally ambiguous heroes" (assuming the allegations of such atrocities against those men are even true)? Is that correct?

Bint Alshamsa said...

Unless the children killed by the Bielski brothers were actually killers, then I see no ethical justification for slaughtering them. What can be factually wrong about saying that I do not see any reason to admire those who kill children?

Wallenberg and Schindler are just two examples of people who managed to save the lives of Jews without slaughtering anyone. There were many people (who weren't rich at all) who did the same thing even though they knew that doing so might cost them their lives. If it was impossible for people to save lives and not become killers unless they had a lot of money, then these examples would not exist. Killing someone because they might tell on you isn't self-defense. Killing children who have never killed even one Jew or Christian or Muslim isn't self-defense either.

If a person can kill children and still be a hero, then wouldn't that also make those who kill Jewish children also heroes? I'm sorry, I just haven't seen you show anything that proves having good intentions is enough to make a child killer into a hero. Would you accept these same arguments that you've made if someone were to say that a person who killed Jewish children is actually a hero?

I don't think that you want to argue that Native Americans were treated well. If someone said that most Jews in Nazi Germany died because they just didn't eat very much and because they allowed criminals against the state to live in their midst, I don't think that you'd go along with their claims. Likewise, there is no way that I, as a Native American woman, could go along with the erroneous idea that "MOST" of my ancestors died in the way that you thought they did. I certainly hope that someone would tell me if I had stumbled across and mistakenly believed some erroneous information about what killed the Jews in Germany. I wouldn't call it arguing if the person told me that it was actually the Nazis who killed the Jews so I'm glad that we can discuss topics like this without it devolving into the type of denials and revising of history that both Jews and Native Americans regularly face.

*sigh*
Perhaps I spoke too soon. Please, tell me what is the basis of your assertion that there is no active genocide against the Native Americans. If you can see why killing people for what their ancestors did, then why is it any different when it comes to killing people simply because they happen to live near a criminal?

By the way, my scenario was not about killing white people so what particular white people were here in the past is irrelevant to it. Maybe that wasn't clear before so I'll try to explain it again. If it is acceptable to kill people in order eliminate the possibility that they might go on to kill those who share the same ethnic or religious background as us, then what would be the difference between

1. the Bielski brothers' actions

and

2.a group of Native American brothers going out and killing non-Natives (women, children, and men) because there is the possibility that the non-Natives might go on to violate and kill NDNs in the future?

If you can see that what was done to NDNs in the past can not make it excusable to kill people today, then can what happened to Jews in the past make it excusable to kill people today, especially if those who are killed are children who aren't even able to make the decision to be willing participents in whatever violence either side engages in?

I wish I could agree that there is no genocide being perpetrated against NDNs right now. The main problems faced by Native Americans doesn't have anything to do with where the United States is located. The biggest problems come from the structural racism that makes it possible for people to discriminate against those whose very existence presents a problem for those who want something that is already possessed by someone else.

To me, any action that purposely causes the death of innocent people isn't saving anyone. I do not view the Bielski brothers as animals. I view them as human beings with the same capacity to choose non-violence that all other human beings have. Killing innocent people just isn't something that I see as "morally ambiguous" or heroic. I see it as just plain unethical.

Red Tulips said...

bint alshamsa:

The Bielski Brothers did what they did to the families of the collaborators to say that Jewish blood did not come cheap, so as to avoid future bloodshed of the Jews they were saving. Yes, it was also for revenge - and I am not justifying the revenge aspect of it. However, one could make an argument that in their extreme scenario, they could not have saved 1200 Jews unless they took such actions. They were Jews in the forrest and did not have the ability to save Jews in the same method that Wallenberg saved Danish Jews and Schindler saved Jews in a concentration camp. Not every situation is identical. I am just astonished that you believe that because there was a way to save Jews nonviolently in one instance, there was a nonviolent solution in all instances. I can assure you that in the Bielski Brothers case - which I have a great deal of knowledge about - you are 100% wrong.

The Native Americans are not being actively genocided and hence there is absolutely no justification for any similar action at this point in time. I do not see the 'sins of my father' as any reason to kill white people - especially since, as I mentioned, most of the white people in America today are new immigrants that had nothing to do with the problems in the past with Native Americans.

Native Americans may face structural racism, but that is hardly genocide, which is a term of art. They are not being systematically slaughtered. Moreover, I would argue that the case of Native Americans was not a clear cut case of genocide in any case, because the bulk of Native Americans did not die from white man coming in and seeking to elliminate every last Native American. The bulk of the deaths came from a) resisting unlawful land seizures in wars; b) poverty; c) diseases (mostly spread by white man); d) Trail of Tears types degradations. This is a fact and I have done reading of it. While certainly the treatment of Native Americans was not justified, it was not the same systemized type of mass ellimination that the Holocaust was. Now I am not going to argue that the Holocaust is the only sort of genocide that ever existed on the planet. In fact, there have been genocides before and since. But make no mistake about it - Native Americans and European Americans have a GREAT DEAL to answer for from the colonial era. (I guess I decided I did want to argue this, lol)

Items European Americans have to answer for:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4p2959.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trail_of_Tears

Items Native AND European Americans have to answer for:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_Massacres

The history of Native Americans is one of absolute tragedy and I am not arguing the US was justified. I certainly believe that the US has much to answer for re: it. But it was also somewhat different from the Holocaust and one cannot say the Native Americans would ever be justified to do what the Bielski Brothers did, because they did not face the same type of genocide whereby if they DIDN'T act, there was a justified fear of total annhiliation.

And even arguing, arguendo, there was that fear, that is irrelevant to TODAY, when Native Americans are clearly NOT being genocided.

Chops:

Yes, that is what I am saying. It was morally ambiguous to kill the families of collaborators, even if it was done with a specific goal in mind (preventing Jewish death).

Red Tulips said...

I wrote this on bint alshamsa's board, but I am copying and pasting it here...

bint alshamsa:

Not everyone had the same opportunity for nonviolence that Schindler had. Let us examine how Schindler was able to avoid violence: he paid for concentration camp workers to work at his factories - at profit - during WWII. Okay, that option was OUT for the Bielskis. How were the Wallenbergs able to save Jews? They snuck Jews into Sweden from Denmark. That option was ALSO out for the Bielskis. They Bielskis started their mission in the middle of a genocide against their people, and they had nowhere to go. They were in the middle of Belarus, and had very few horses to transport over a thousand people. It was over a thousand miles away to the nearest place where the Jews could be safe from the Nazis and they had no way to get there. So they had to live in the forrest. Living in the forrest meant constant fear of being exposed by local peasants, and they would have been exposed had they not killed collaborators and the families of collaborators as a sort of lesson that Jewish blood does not come cheap. There is no way around this. They were extremely vulnerable to discovery and would have been slaughtered if discovered as death warrants were out for them. They could not just up and leave without basically ensuring the deaths of over a thousand people they were protecting.

So we now have to assume that violence was actually the only option. Die or kill. And in that instance, I can see how 'kill' is justified. You don't. But I will put this to you viscerally.

Someone breaks into your home and aims a gun at your daughter. Do you...

a) Shoot the intruder
b) Let your daught die

I am assuming you choose (a). Now let's change the scenario a bit.

There is a systematic slaughter of not just you but your entire family. The US government has armed cops, scouring the neighborhood for your location. You hide out in nearby forrest for safety. Then, a former neighbor of your's points the police to the location you are hiding in, and you end up in an armed skirmish with the police, nearly leading to the slaughter of your entire family, but thankfully prevented. You know that if you do nothing, the informer will eventually inform on your family again. Do you...

(a) Let the informer go about his business;
(b) Kill the informer.

I am guessing you kill the informer.

Now let's up the ante some more.

Not only are you hiding in the woods and have to fear informers who will tell the police where you are, BUT, the US government also puts out a bulletin that says anyone who aids the bint alshamsa fammily in any way will be shot, and the families of that person giving aid sent to concentration camps. Moreover, very wonderful rewards are given to collaborators who lead to the death and annhiliation of your family, AND, The US military will sometimes actually torture and kill those who don't help them.

Do you...

(a) Just kill the collaborators;
(b) Kill the collaborators AND the families of collaborators as a statement that the blood of the bint alshamsa family does not come easy.

I think the last part is morally ambiguous, but understandable under the circumstances. And the fact that the Bielskis were able to save 1200 Jews despite great obstacles IS heroic. It is morally ambiguous heroism, but heroism nonetheless.

shlemazl said...

Wow. Someone has been busy :-) Good job.

Bint Alshamsa said...

Hey Red Tulips,

I responded to this comment on my blog where you left it. I'll paste it here if you want. Sorry I was M.I.A. for a few days. I had some medication issues to deal with. :o(