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First they came for the communists, but I was not a communist, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the socialists and the trade unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew, so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.
– Pastor Martin Niemoeller.

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"Honor" Killings? Try the Napier Plan - Thursday, March 05, 2009 at 00:01


“Honor” Killings? Try the Napier Plan

David C. Stolinsky, MD
March 5, 2009

Do you remember Daniel Pearl? He was a journalist for the Wall Street Journal, but he was kidnapped in Pakistan by Islamic extremists. In February 2002, he was beheaded with a dull knife on a video that was seen worldwide. It was unclear whether Pearl was murdered because he was American, because he was Jewish, or because his beheading would be newsworthy − and therefore evoke terror. Probably the answer is all of the above.

At the time, the event appeared horrific but remote. It was indeed horrific, but it is no longer remote.

In an affluent suburb of Buffalo, New York, a man had founded a TV network to demonstrate that Islam teaches nonviolence. But in February 2009, he became involved in a contested divorce. He resolved the dispute by taking his estranged wife to his TV studio and beheading her.

Experts argued about whether or not this was an “honor” killing. There was little question, however, that it did diminish the impact of the man’s TV network. If you look in the dictionary for “oxymoron,” you will find a reference to nonviolent beheading.

Also in February 2009, “militants” − no, terrorists − in Pakistan beheaded a Polish engineer who was helping to develop oil and gas resources. His beheading was also videoed, reportedly for the purpose of inducing the Pakistani government to release Taliban prisoners. But as with Pearl, the underlying purpose of terrorist acts is to terrorize.

Meanwhile in Britain, a man who had been radicalized during a trip to Pakistan was sentenced to life imprisonment for plotting to behead a Muslim British soldier. A woman was given a suspended sentence for writing poems praising beheadings. Apparently some took her poems literally, as British police reopened the cases of more than 100 women killed in the past 10 years under circumstances suggesting “honor” killing.

“Honor” killings are becoming more common throughout Europe, even in Scandinavia. And last year in Texas, two sisters aged 17 and 18 were shot dead by their father because they had adopted “Western ways.” I do not believe the father meant wearing cowboy boots.

Europeans, and now Americans, are being forced to face the end result of “multiculturalism.” A society is defined by its culture. A society may be multiethnic, and allow diversity of religious and political views. America has done famously well at this for two centuries, because millions of immigrants were taught to become Americans. But we have stopped Americanizing immigrants. We have even stopped Americanizing our own children.

What does it mean to be “multicultural”? Some cultures allow, or even encourage, polygamy and violence against women. Such cultures see women as inferior beings, the property of their fathers, brothers or husbands. And rebellion against male authority is met with violence, sometimes lethal violence.

Our schools, our universities − and sometimes even our clergy − teach that our culture is no better than any other. After all, “Who are we to judge?” The word “judgmental,” in the sense of self-righteous and overly critical, dates only from the 1960s. From the dawn of English until then, the greatest writers and thinkers were able to express themselves without using that term.

What changed in the 1960s that necessitated the introduction of “judgmental,” and its opposite “nonjudgmental”? The world didn’t change. We changed. We lost faith − faith in ourselves, faith in our culture, faith in our Judeo-Christian values, faith in God. We stopped passing on that faith to the next generation.

In Britain, this loss of faith has gone so far that the Lord Chief Justice − the highest judge − and the Archbishop of Canterbury − the highest official of the Church of England − both agree that Muslim Sharia law is inevitable for Muslim citizens of Britain. Polygamy is now officially tolerated in Britain and Canada, to the extent that husbands receive multiple welfare payments. And criticism of extremist Islam is punishable by law in Europe and Canada. If we can’t criticize harmful practices, how can we hope to end them?

Nature abhors a vacuum. The vacuum of our lack of faith was filled by the strong faith of others − others who believe in male dominance, dictatorial treatment of wives and children, clitoridectomy, enforced marriages, domestic violence and, in the extreme, “honor” killings.

We tried to counter these destructive beliefs, but we found that in the culture wars, we had disarmed ourselves. We found that we couldn’t counter something with nothing. We found that we couldn’t fight strong beliefs with no beliefs.

We forgot the lesson of General Napier.

When the British gained control of India, they got rid of suttee, the Hindu custom of burning a widow alive on her husband’s funeral pyre. This was done to express grief, and also so that the husband’s family would not have to share the inheritance with the widow. The British commander-in-chief in India, General Sir Charles Napier (1782-1853), was informed that suttee was an ancient and accepted custom with a religious basis, and that suppressing it would cause resentment. (Sound familiar?) Unimpressed, Napier replied:

You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.

I am not an admirer of multiculturalism. But if we must have it, let us practice the kind of multiculturalism advocated by General Napier.

If they insist on their customs of misogyny, domestic violence and “honor” killings, let us insist on our customs. In case you forgot, let me remind you: Our customs include protection of women and children − if necessary, even from their fathers, brothers or husbands. Our customs include equal rights for women, especially in regard to education, career, marriage, divorce and child custody. Our customs include severe punishment for those who mistreat women and children, including deportation, long prison sentences, and − in the case of murder − execution.

If they insist on following their customs, we must insist on following ours.

Our ancestors were able to exert a civilizing influence in other people’s nations. If we are unable to exert a civilizing influence in our own nation, we do not deserve to have a nation of our own. And before long, we won’t.

Dr. Stolinsky writes on political and social issues. He can be contacted at