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If you'll kindly indulge me...

It seems every time someone mentions Hamas as a terrorist organization, others immediately rush to explain how they are not just a terrorist organization, they do a lot more. Hamas has built schools and hospitals in the Occupied Territories, runs social welfare programs, and in general does a lot of the things that charities and humanitarian organizations do. They talk about their "militant" wing, which does the terrorism stuff, which in theory is separate from their other works.

And while some of Hamas are doing these good deeds, others are building rockets, assembling bombs, smuggling guns, and planning and carrying out attacks on such high-value military targets as buses, religious gatherings, buses, restaurants, buses, hotels, and buses.

But we should discount that, right? We should balance that against Hamas' good works, and take that into account when judging the overall organization.

I recall a similar argument being made back during the height of the pedophile priest scandal that rocked the Catholic Church a few years ago. In that case, it was an application of the Watergate truism -- "it's not the crime that gets you, but the coverup." The number of priests who were abusing children were a very, very small percentage. But it was the way the Church handled it that made it so horrific -- at one point, two thirds of the Bishops in the United States had shielded accused priests, often shuffling them off to new, unsuspecting parishes, where they would find new victims to prey upon while reassuring the original victims that the priests had been "disciplined" and were being "treated" and would "not victimize children any more."

At the time, a lot -- a LOT -- of Catholics were calling into talk radio shows, denouncing the critics as "Catholic-bashers" and pointing out all the good the Church has done, and continues to do.

I know it's unfair to compare the Catholic Church to Hamas, but the underlying principle is the same: one cannot balance out misdeeds by performing good acts. One is reprehensible and must not be tolerated; the other is laudable, and should be recognized. But they cannot be used to balance each other out.

If we do that, if we decide to give Hamas a bye for its terrorist acts, if we forgive the Church its concealing of the pedophiles and aiding in their continued abuses by supplying them with fresh victims, then we ought to simply codify and formalize it, and establish exchange rates for certain acts. Give so much to charity, you can assault someone. Work at a soup kitchen for so many hours, you can burn down someone's house. Organize a fund drive to build a hospital in the third world, you can murder someone.

And if we do set up this program, I hope we hurry. There's a woman I know that I'd really, really like to have my way with, and I'd like to find out just what good deeds I need to perform first so I can enjoy myself without fear of prison.


Comments (14)

Hakeem Olijuwan has funded ... (Below threshold)

Hakeem Olijuwan has funded many ventures in his old home town.

Does that mean he can set up terrorist training camps there, too? You know, to... um... attack Pat Riley's hair?

Hmmm.Morality is n... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmm.

Morality is not a balancing act.

Um, there's one other dispa... (Below threshold)
a.nonymoose:

Um, there's one other disparity between your two examples: the Catholic Church, as an organization, does not have as one of its founding principals the sexual abuse of children. It does not advocate it, does not preach sermons on the goodness of sexual abuse and describe in detail how sexual abuse will get you into heaven. It does not pound the pulpit in support of NAMBLA.

The Church as body was, very obviously, disgusted and embarrassed by the fact of the behavior of certain of its members: so much so that the members (including the Bishops) were almost pathologically schismed in denial of it for a couple of decades (grasping at any straws they were offered, such as by psychologists who repeatedly said that these priests were not a threat to children, they weren't 'pedophiles' they were 'ephebophiles' and that that wasn't a psychopathology that was nigh-uncontrollable).

None of those things are true of Hamas.

The reason people want to c... (Below threshold)
mantis:

The reason people want to consider all that Hamas does, Jay, is because they hope for the group to move away from one kind of activity and continue the other. You know, like the IRA? But I suppose from your absolutist viewpoint Sinn Fein is "reprehensible and must not be tolerated".

Sure it would be nice if Hamas ceased to exist, but that's not going to happen, is it?

mantis, I would like to see... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

mantis, I would like to see that happen, too. But let's face it: the only power that can affect that is Hamas, and they AIN'T changing. They have made that abundantly clear at every single opportunity. To pretend otherwise is the most suicidal form of self-delusion. Hamas has, at its core, the destruction of Israel and the implementation of an Islamist regime in its place. Everything else is secondary. They say so in their charter, and they reaffirm it at every opportunity.

J.

How about the U.S. military... (Below threshold)
2klb_o_fun:

How about the U.S. military *terrorist organization*. In addition to all of their *atrocities*, aren't they doing some good things in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.?

Agreed. They do need to ch... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Agreed. They do need to change themselves, or risk their own destruction.

My point is that I don't believe that those who point out the good things that Hamas does are excusing their violence. Ok, maybe the one's who hate Israel are, but the rest simply desire peace.

What a.nonymoose said. And... (Below threshold)

What a.nonymoose said. And more to the point: Hamas does good deeds for the same reason why John Gotti used to have fireworks shows for his neighborhood: to buy the people's good will for its priorities. The bad stuff is Hamas' core mission; the rest is just marketing.

I'll second the 'moose on t... (Below threshold)
SCSIwuzzy:

I'll second the 'moose on this
The Catholic church is body that was founded to do good in this world. While people may disagree with the saving of souls the Catholic way (or saving of souls at all), the evils Jay brings up are abberations. They are not at the core of what the Church stands for and stives to achieve. We Catholics are NOT the Super Adventure Club. ;)
Hamas, on the other hand, was founded with the intent of killing. Of genocide. It's almost a photonegative comparision. Yes, both groups have done good and bad, and the good they do cannot absolve them of the bad.
Better to compare Hamas to the Klu Klux Klan, another despicable group who's supporters try to point out the good they do...

I suspect there are no enti... (Below threshold)
Brahma:

I suspect there are no entirely evil organizations. Just as in any organization of non trivial size some bad people using the structure, power and/or resources of the organization to do bad things. One needs to focus on the core intent/goal set. Hamas says their intent is to push Israel into the sea. That strikes me as fundamentally bad. Just because some of their folks are good parents or help sick people does not make it a good organization.

i'm a fan of what machiavel... (Below threshold)

i'm a fan of what machiavelli said in his discourses on livy... this is rough, i don't remember the exact quote. basically, he said good deeds don't cancel out bad, and vice-versa. people should be rewarded for their good deeds and punished for their bad ones.

What a ignorant lunatic rav... (Below threshold)
WTF?:

What a ignorant lunatic raving rabid rant.

Jay Tea, pull your head out of your ass

Hamas learned an important ... (Below threshold)

Hamas learned an important lesson from the Irish. Sinn Fein and the IRA were part of the same organization, but different. Sinn Fein was "political" and the IRA was "militant". The distinction between the two was sufficiently clear that thousands of Irish-Americans had no problem making donations to "the cause", primarily through NORAID.

The distinction no longer makes a difference, however, and the IRA has been condemned as a terrorist organization.

Hamas actually does have two different organizations within it. One does social work (as did Sinn Fein); one goes out and kills people (as did the IRA). Because both are indistinguishable for the most part, they're treated the same now: parts of an organization that relies on terrorism to make its political point.

The US isn't quite that far down the road with Sinn Fein, however. That's primarily because there's a real chance that the violence can end sometime soon. If things fall apart in N. Ireland, I think we'll be seeing Sinn Fein being put out of bounds, too.

What a.nonymoose and SCSIwu... (Below threshold)
-S-:

What a.nonymoose and SCSIwuzzy wrote.




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