Thursday, April 8, 2010

Extremism in Support of “Virtue”

After five suicide bombings Monday targeted the U.S. Consulate in Peshawar, Pakistan, State Department flack P.J. Crowley called it the work of extremists. They, however, were striking a blow for what they perceive as virtue.

Consider the bombings in the Moscow subway system. The suicide bombers were women whose husbands were killed by the Russians in their military adventures in Chechnya, Dagestan and South Ossetia. It is no wonder that one of the bombings was under Lubyanka, home of what was formerly the KGB.

Such extremism is nothing new. Consider the total war practiced against civilians in resisting cities by the Mongols, George Sherman’s March to the Sea, American bombing of cities that had no strategic value during World War II. Consider the mindless homicidal mania of the Viking berserkers, the Japanese against Marines and the U.S. Navy during World War II and the genocide in Rwanda.

It is too bad that the targets are not repressive, paranoid and corrupt regimes. If the goal is regime change, there should be bombings in North Korea, Burma and China. China has been repressive of minority rights, especially against Tibet and Muslim areas. The so-called Great Firewall prohibits posting protest videos to the Internet and searching for topics like the Tiananmen Square tanks. The mine disaster shows that journalists will go where news occurs. Everyone knows corruption is rampant in China, but even protesting wins you a prison term or worse.

Extremists are not what they used to be in the U.S. People who are in favor of the right of law-abiding people to carry firearms, who put Republican stickers on their automobiles or who worship God have been called extremists by liberals as if there is a Timothy McVeigh, David Kouresh or the anthrax mailer in all of us. The real American extremists may have a cache of automatic weapons, bomb-making material or belong to apocalyptic religious cults.

Professor Stanley Kutler says to me that with which he assumes I disagree although I agree with him. I hope the government is not keeping track of our public library habits. I have withdrawn what could be considered subversive books and videos by traditional liberals. I have read an article about how the government can get from our cellular telephone providers information where our telephones are and whom we have called. They do not need a warrant. Some cell providers and legal groups seek to enjoin this.

Extremism in support of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution should not be equated with people who wish us ill. We surrender more of our liberties in the name of security every day.

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