Friday, May 6, 2011

There are some times when you have to realize the person you're talking to cannot be pleased.

For example: a vicious terrorist orders the murder of thousands of Americans. He's hunted down and killed. In a less civilized nation, his head would be rotting on a pike outside the Capitol building. Instead, after identification, his body is washed in accordance with his religious tradition, prayers appropriate to his religion are said in his language, and he's given a respectful burial at sea by American personnel who must have been biting their tongues until they bled. They acted with professionalism and respect for somebody who deserved none, because our nation's leaders wanted to send the message to other people of the murderer's region and religion that we don't consider ourselves at war with them or with their religion.

Al Jazeera quotes some commentators from Egypt:

Dr Ahmed El-Tayeb, the head of al-Azhar, Egypt's seat of Sunni Muslim learning, said the disposal of the body at sea was an affront to religious and human values.

Muslims set great store by interment in permanent graves on land and accept burial at sea only in cases where the body cannot be preserved intact aboard ship until it reaches shore.

A prominent Egyptian Islamist lawyer said bin Laden should have been buried in his native Saudi Arabia.

"Isn't it enough that they killed him and displayed their joy to the world?" Montasser al-Zayat told Al Jazeera.

Partying in the streets after an unprecedentedly brutal act of terrorism is barbarically "displaying your joy to the world". So is beating Americans to death and dragging their bodies through the streets. We've demonstrated that we're willing to put down a rabid dog, but that ghoulishly gloating about it isn't part of our culture. I'd say that's exactly the right place to be on the barbarian-to-pacifist spectrum.

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