Friday, September 23, 2005

How to deal with terrorists

In 1999, a year after leaving shamefully low-paying jobs in academia for moderately more lucrative jobs in New Media consulting in Johannesburg, my boyfriend and I were at last able to afford satellite TV. At this time, international shows like “Jerry Springer” were still a novelty and we’d never seen anything like it. One particularly thrilling Springer show – before we realised that almost all episodes ended in fisticuffs – involved Irv Rubin of the Jewish Defence League (and minders) confronting the Grand Dragon (Dragon? Warlock, Wizard, Pixie, whatever!) of the Ku Klux Klan (and his minions)..

At the time it was nothing more than pantomime and I thought of Rubin as that guy who tried to hit the Klansman with a chair. But years later, it transpired that Rubin had more sinister ambitions. In 2002 he was indicted after an FBI investigation found he and an accomplice been conspiring to bomb a mosque to make some political point which, frankly, I don’t care to understand. It was also meant to be “a wake-up call”, though, again for what we shouldn’t actually give a fuck – bombing mosques is not a legitimate way to make that call. A pipe-bomb is not a tickey-box.

The fact that they never got round to executing their evil action is a minor mitigation.

The founder of the Jewish Defence League, Meir Kahane, left the US to form a political party in Israel. It was banned by the Israeli government for its racist message, and listed by the US State Departments as a terrorist organisation.

Anyway, enough history. The long and the short of it is that Irv Rubin committed suicide (though of course there are the obligatory conspiracy theories) in prison while awaiting trial. His co-defendant, Earl Krugel, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy, has been sentenced to 20 years in prison, reports Al Jazeera.

And deservedly so.

What is interesting is that the country’s most well known anti-Semitism watchdog, the Anti Defamation League, did not seek to justify or explain Rubin’s actions. They did not say that they were understandable given the hostility towards Jewish people in the world and in America. In fact, in a statement, they said the opposite.

They accused the JDL founder of promoting a “gross distortion of the position of Jews in America” and of fear-mongering. They denounced Rubin as having “a long track record of intimidation and bullying tactics” and for engaging in “contemptible activities“. They “applauded” the FBI’s arrest of Rubin on terror charges. They said:

If the current allegations about the JDL are true, ADL abhors and condemns this potential terrorist plot to attack members of the Los Angeles community. This incident is one more example of how organizations expressing hatred often turn to violence. We praise the diligent work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Attorney's Office that led to the arrest. We have full confidence that this case will be thoroughly investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice.

They did NOT say:

'We cannot say we pat these misguided boys on the back but we do want to listen to them. They have gone astray so we want to treat them in a way that will set them straight... we want to treat them the way clerics treat their students, the way fathers treat their sons.'

They did NOT dismiss evidence against Rubin and Krugel thus:

"We are in the 21st Century. The cows can be made to look as dancing, the horses can speak like humans, so these things can be doctored or can be produced."

The correct response to terrorists is to denounce them unequivocally, to applaud when the police arrest them and applaud even louder when the courts bring them to justice.


At 4:33 pm, Blogger ModernityBlog said...

Spot on, good comparison, your views are always worth a read.


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