[Mb-civic] NYTimes.com Article: Cult of Death
michael at intrafi.com
michael at intrafi.com
Tue Sep 7 11:28:45 PDT 2004
The article below from NYTimes.com
has been sent to you by michael at intrafi.com.
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Cult of Death
September 7, 2004
By DAVID BROOKS
We've been forced to witness the massacre of innocents. In
New York, Madrid, Moscow, Tel Aviv, Baghdad and Bali, we
have seen thousands of people destroyed while going about
the daily activities of life.
We've been forced to endure the massacre of children.
Whether it's teenagers outside an Israeli disco or students
in Beslan, Russia, we've seen kids singled out as special
We should by now have become used to the death cult that is
thriving at the fringes of the Muslim world. This is the
cult of people who are proud to declare, "You love life,
but we love death." This is the cult that sent waves of
defenseless children to be mowed down on the battlefields
of the Iran-Iraq war, that trains kindergartners to become
bombs, that fetishizes death, that sends people off
joyfully to commit mass murder.
This cult attaches itself to a political cause but
parasitically strangles it. The death cult has strangled
the dream of a Palestinian state. The suicide bombers have
not brought peace to Palestine; they've brought reprisals.
The car bombers are not pushing the U.S. out of Iraq;
they're forcing us to stay longer. The death cult is now
strangling the Chechen cause, and will bring not
independence but blood.
But that's the idea. Because the death cult is not really
about the cause it purports to serve. It's about the sheer
pleasure of killing and dying.
It's about massacring people while in a state of spiritual
loftiness. It's about experiencing the total freedom of
barbarism - freedom even from human nature, which says,
Love children, and Love life. It's about the joy of sadism
We should be used to this pathological mass movement by
now. We should be able to talk about such things. Yet when
you look at the Western reaction to the Beslan massacres,
you see people quick to divert their attention away from
the core horror of this act, as if to say: We don't want to
stare into this abyss. We don't want to acknowledge those
parts of human nature that were on display in Beslan.
Something here, if thought about too deeply, undermines the
categories we use to live our lives, undermines our faith
in the essential goodness of human beings.
Three years after Sept. 11, too many people have become
experts at averting their eyes. If you look at the
editorials and public pronouncements made in response to
Beslan, you see that they glide over the perpetrators of
this act and search for more conventional, more easily
comprehensible targets for their rage.
The Boston Globe editorial, which was typical of the
American journalistic response, made two quick references
to the barbarity of the terrorists, but then quickly veered
off with long passages condemning Putin and various Russian
The Dutch foreign minister, Bernard Bot, speaking on behalf
of the European Union, declared: "All countries in the
world need to work together to prevent tragedies like this.
But we also would like to know from the Russian authorities
how this tragedy could have happened."
It wasn't a tragedy. It was a carefully planned mass murder
operation. And it wasn't Russian authorities who stuffed
basketball nets with explosives and shot children in the
back as they tried to run away.
Whatever horrors the Russians have perpetrated upon the
Chechens, whatever their ineptitude in responding to the
attack, the essential nature of this act was in the act
itself. It was the fact that a team of human beings could
go into a school, live with hundreds of children for a few
days, look them in the eyes and hear their cries, and then
blow them up.
Dissertations will be written about the euphemisms the
media used to describe these murderers. They were called
"separatists" and "hostage-takers." Three years after Sept.
11, many are still apparently unable to talk about this
evil. They still try to rationalize terror. What drives the
terrorists to do this? What are they trying to achieve?
They're still victims of the delusion that Paul Berman
diagnosed after Sept. 11: "It was the belief that, in the
modern world, even the enemies of reason cannot be the
enemies of reason. Even the unreasonable must be, in some
This death cult has no reason and is beyond negotiation.
This is what makes it so frightening. This is what causes
so many to engage in a sort of mental diversion. They don't
want to confront this horror. So they rush off in search of
more comprehensible things to hate.
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