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Monday, March 24, 2003

There is no moral difference between terrorists with capital cities and terrorists without them.

None. Too bad Catholic officialdom is incapable of understanding this.

This was the Hanson family, incinerated on the way to California on September 11, 2001. Sadly, the first time I ever heard of them was through James Lileks' powerful essay. Take a good, long hard look at the Hansons, smiling for a family Christmas picture.

It caused me to tear up, for some reason.

If you can't understand the connection between the war in Iraq and the war on terror, I have precious little insight into how I can persuade you. I'm not talking about the connections between Iraq and al Qaeda, nor the connection between Iraq and terrorism in the U.S., though such evidence exists for those who have ears to hear.

No, this connection is of a different sort. It is visceral. It is one that screams that men who put other men who oppose or offend them into industrial shredders are--like those who incinerate toddlers--terrorists, pure and simple. The sole difference between such terrorists and the Al Qaeda brand being that the shredders are terrorists fortunate enough to squat on resources sufficient to build palaces by the dozen and send official representatives to be courted by a hundred-plus nations around the globe.

It is the similarities are far, far, far more important. The most obvious identity between the Baathist shredders and the bin Ladenist slashers is that neither group is fit to share the globe with civilized human beings, let alone possess or develop weapons that can butcher human beings by the thousands (or orders of magnitude worse). Imagine what evil Qusay or evil Uday could do with a nuke. If that possibility doesn't make you shudder--well, bluntly, you need a swift kick in the ass.

Frankly, I have lost my ability to understand those who persist in making the distinction between Saddam and bin Laden.

For my co-religionists who flog such distinctions, especially moral equivalence-promoting prelates like Cardinal Etchegaray and Bishop Gumbleton, I have little to say. Such men are spinning moral compasses and have to be disregarded accordingly. The official silence on atrocities against Americans (or Israelis, Cardinal...) makes their pronouncements worthy of contempt. Frankly, the official Catholic solicitude for the Baathist tyranny is one of the most infuriating aspects of the past few months. The fact the national socialist regime in Baghdad allows Catholics to celebrate Christmas makes it indistinguishable from its annihilated Berlin cousin. Such sops offered to beleaguered Chaldeans shouldn't convert the regime into a dialogue partner, for the love of God. Don't the people of Iraq, Chaldeans included, deserve better? Just how does the Vatican think non-Christian Iraqis are going to look at their Christian compatriots once this is over? "Wow, your leaders were such a help, Ahmad. A real voice for freedom. About that representation in a federalist state...."

The invective over Iraq is, sadly, Eurospeak. It is morally indistinguishable from the oily dissembling of a de Villepin or Chirac. I have filed it away in the appropriate location. It will take buildings crashing down in their cities--killing those they love--to wake them up.

Perhaps. I fear even that won't suffice....

No matter. When it comes down to it, the tut-tuttings of a Gumbleton, Martino, Etchegaray or protesters who toe the same line will not deter the likes of bin Laden or the Husseins or the Kim dynasty, the last of which is reportedly watching the war with concern. The platitudes will not protect my wife, daughter or son. The treacly interfaith prayer meetings will not bring them back if they are killed.

The force of allied arms can't bring back anyone either. But it can do a damn sight better of protecting them from all kinds of terrorists.

Even those that have U.N. seats.

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