Early this morning, I saw the mass announcement that the US Military had finally succeeded in sending Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to the next world. As a result of two 500-pound airborne bombs, al-Zarqawi and between six and eight of his colleagues are now taking long-term, permanent dirt naps.
Despite the fact that al-Zarqawi, while he was alive, was suspected to be responsible for a multitude of beheadings, bombings, and causing myriad deaths, both Muslim and non-Muslim alike, I am not sure today is a day for celebration. Why shouldn’t we – both as a people and as humans – not be glad to know that someone who willingly removed the heads of other human beings? Well, on the one hand, there is the reaction to Zarqawi’s death from Michael Berg, father of Nicholas Berg, the man whose beheading was posted on a pro-militant website in 2004. It is largely suspected that Zarqawi was responsible for performing the beheading as well as publicizing it. However, Mr. Berg’s reaction was thus:
Well, my reaction is I'm sorry whenever any human being dies. Zarqawi is a human being. He has a family who are reacting just as my family reacted when Nick was killed, and I feel bad for that. I feel doubly bad, though, because Zarqawi is also a political figure, and his death will re-ignite yet another wave of revenge, and revenge is something that I do not follow, that I do want ask for, that I do not wish for against anybody. And it can't end the cycle. As long as people use violence to combat violence, we will always have violence.I personally cannot identify or empathize with Mr. Berg. I don’t have a son, but I know that if I did, and someone – merely to further a cause – decided to behead him and videotape the act of his murder and publicize same – I would have a decidedly different reaction. I’d more likely find a way to choke the perpetrator with his own sphincter than speak of being sorry “when any human being dies.” Firstly, using whatever logic you wish to imbue, a person who can murder another human being by cutting off his head – on camera – is not “any human being.” He – meaning Zarqawi – is/was not a human being. He is an animal. Actually, I rescind that description – animals do not desecrate one another except out of hunger; they do not eviscerate or otherwise mistreat their fellow creatures simply to make a point.
As for Mr. Berg’s assertion that this act will inspire acts of revenge, I agree in part; however, anyone that is sorry that Mr. Zarqawi is dead – aside from his family, who believe he is a martyr and is now in heaven – are not going to need any arm-twisting to continue to fight the infidel oppressors, whether it is American troops distributing food supplies, Marines killing civilians, or British soldiers maintaining infrastructure in Fallujah. The point is, the seeds were planted in Mosques through the mid-east and Asia; to think that, somehow, letting Mr. Zarqawi continue his reign of beheadings and roadside bombings to somehow ease the tensions between Muslim mujahadeen (ready to strap bombs to their childrens’ bodies) is not merely a pacifist; he is a fool. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere in these pages, sometimes taking life can also save lives – and I’m not referring to using a 30.06 rifle to assassinate an abortion doctor in his living room.
To (briefly) expound on Mr. Berg’s theory of today’s news inspiring martyrs and more violence, I think it’s relatively naïve to simply stop there; Arabs, in one form or another, have been killing each other over slices of land less significant than graffiti-covered vacant lots in the South Bronx. The notion of Hammurabi’s Code, ie an eye for eye, inspired the notion and the very definition of the word vengeance. These are not new concepts; these have been tinged with the turmoil that has bounded and epitomized the Middle East for the past 3,000 years. So for anyone to suggest that pacifism is a better alternative than to delete people like Zarqawi, who are anything but human, my response is that sometimes turning the other cheek is not the lesser of two evils.
Today isn’t a day for celebration, and I don’t concur with the US Military that today’s news will have an impact on the number of attacks – if anything, that number might increase in the short term. But I am relieved to learn that Zarqawi is elsewhere, even if another piece of shit sprouts forth in his absence.