When their rubber boat suffered a puncture, African refugees began to pray. But when 12 Christians prayed, their Muslim shipmates threw them overboard into the Mediterranean, saying, “Here we only pray to Allah.” There were about 100 refugees on the boat, and Italian police arrested 15 who were believed to be most responsible.
– News report
ISIS terrorists shot 16 Ethiopian Christians and beheaded 12 others, advertising their actions on video. This follows another beheading of 20 Christians.
– News report
We are bombarded with news of terrorism and brutality, so it may be useful to find some way to categorize these reports. For example, take the two reports noted above, which came in within a two-day period. Both reports are depressing and frightening.
Still, if you were forced to choose, which would you say is more depressing and more frightening? Offhand you would say the second incident – after all, more innocent Christians were murdered by Islamist extremists.
There are between 1.2 and 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. Polls agree that while many may express violent opinions, only a small minority are ready to act out their violent feelings. Even so, this thought is no consolation. Say that only 1% of Muslims are ready to join terrorist gangs. This would mean that a minimum of 12 million Muslims are potential recruits for ISIS, Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, and similar gangs.
At the height of World War II, the U.S. had about 12 million troops under arms. This enabled us, together with our allies, to fight successfully on two fronts against the Nazi German army – perhaps the most efficient army in history – and the imperial Japanese army. Twelve million potential fighters is indeed a formidable force – in the original meaning of formidable: frightening.
So you would be justified in claiming that the second incident is the more depressing and more frightening. But wait – it was carried out by trained fighters. They were under military-type command, and determined to use violence to advance their perverted notion of an ideal world. The first incident, in contrast, was carried out by civilians, whose chief aim was to escape the awful conditions in Africa and reach Italy.
They were untrained and not under military-type command – apparently under no command at all. Their attack on their Christian shipmates was spontaneous. Their demand that only Muslim prayers be said was unplanned. Their decision to throw the Christians overboard was spur-of-the-moment.
That is the reason I believe the first incident was more depressing and more frightening. A random group of refugees, who had everything in common with their Christian shipmates – except religion – were provoked on a moment’s notice to mass murder by merely hearing a man utter a Christian prayer in his distress.
Ann Coulter invented the term “hair-trigger moderates” to describe those Muslims who were called “moderates,” but who could be incited to homicidal violence on the least provocation. Sometimes Ann Coulter comes on a bit strong for effect, but she got this one exactly right.
So you can see why I believe the first incident is the more depressing and frightening. Say the estimates are correct, and only (only!) 12 million Muslims are actual or potential members of terrorist organizations. How many others are “hair-trigger moderates,” moderate in their speech and actions, but ready to explode into lethal violence on a moment’s notice – if provoked by what we would consider a minor irritation, or no irritation at all?
Throwing fellow refugees overboard is a terrible crime. Throwing civilization overboard is a terrible mistake. And bit by bit, we are allowing it to happen, in the vain hope that we will not be affected.
In short, many people think like this: Are African and Middle Eastern Christians being shot, beheaded, burned alive, or drowned? Surely American and European Christians will be safe. Is Iran building nukes and the missiles to deliver them? They probably mean it when they shout, “Death to Israel,” so let them nuke Israel, which is just an annoyance, anyhow. Surely they don’t mean it when they shout, “Death to America,” so surely we will be safe. Surely no one wants to throw us overboard.
But all humanity is in the same boat. Sooner or later, it will be our turn to be thrown overboard. And then it will do no good to protest that we meant no harm. Like the passive majority in the rubber boat on the Mediterranean, we sat silently while our brothers and sisters were killed. Why did we believe that we were safe? Why did we believe that we deserved to be safe?
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