Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Moral Clarity on Iraq: Two Must-Reads

In Monday's Guardian, noted left-of-center author William Shawcross lays out exactly what's at stake in Iraq:

The horrific war against the Iraqi people is being run by the same people who oppressed and tortured them for decades - Saddam's henchmen and gaolers. They are more than ably abetted by the Islamofascist jihadists led by Osama bin Laden's Heydrich in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Elections really do matter to people - especially to people who have been denied them. We saw that in 1993 when millions of Cambodians braved threats from the Khmer Rouge. We saw it in Algeria in 1995, when the government, almost overcome by years of Islamist terrorist assault, called elections and the silent majority defied the terrorists' threats and voted en masse.

We saw it much more recently in Afghanistan, where the people confounded the western critics and scoffers and, despite Taliban threats, voted overwhelmingly to put the curse of the Taliban's Islamic extremism behind them.

And we are seeing it most brutally and clearly in Iraq today, where everyone associated with the attempt to give the Iraqi people a decent future risks being murdered.

On the same day, National Review Online published a piece by Steven Vincent. With admirable clarity, Vincent makes clear that Iraq is the ultimate civil rights battle:

To many people in the West — especially the Michael Moore crowd — the Sunni Triangle gunmen are "guerrillas" engaged in a legitimate "resistance" against a neo-colonialist occupation. This might be true if Iraq were a mid-20th-century-style struggle for national liberation, à la Vietnam or Algeria. But it is not: The war in Iraq is more akin to the struggle for civil rights played out in America in the generations after the Civil War. And in this struggle, the insurgents play the identical role as the racists, bigots, and white supremacists who resorted to violence and murder rather than see their fellow Americans achieve equality.

When the paramilitary death squads ("insurgents" is too clean a word) kidnap and behead Iraqis who work for the reconstruction of their nation — is that not similar to an old-fashioned lynching? The message in both the south and the Sunni Triangle is certainly the same: If you challenge our power, this will be your fate. When gunmen stalk the Iraqi countryside, murdering civilians in the name of "defending their homeland," can we not see a modern-day Ku Klux Klan? They, too, were masked; they, too, mounted an "insurgency"; they, too, sought to reinstate a reactionary regime based on ethnic and religious supremacy. When a car bomb explodes, killing innocent Iraqis — do the victims not join hands across the years with the four teenage girls killed in the Birmingham church bombings? When Iraqi terrorists gun down election workers in the streets of Baghdad, can we not see, reprised before our eyes, the assassinations of Schwerner, Goodman, and Chaney, in addition to Medgar Evers and others who gave their lives in the name of democracy?

There is hardly an American today who would not shout in loud protest if such racist abominations once again took place in our country. And yet, many of us watch in silence as the exact same atrocities occur in Iraq. Especially perplexing is the silence of the Left — the people who, a generation ago, stood on the forefront of the civil-rights movement. How can they tarnish their proud legacy of fighting for democracy and equality by refusing to take sides in the same struggle 10,000 miles away? Why do they persist in claiming the fight against reactionary extremists is "unjust" and "immoral?" None of these people would for a moment praise the Ku Klux Klan — why do they legitimize the so-called "insurgents"?

I can only wonder, as one soldier blogger did recently, where are the human shields now that the Iraqi people really need them?


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