Turning the other cheek?

The recent kidnaping of some “Christian Peace Activists” has provoked a lot of heated discussion around the blogosphere. The group they belonged to, Christian Peacemaker Teams, sounds wonderful on the surface — until one looks a bit more carefully.

CPT had its “observer” teams in Iraq since 2002, before the US invasion — and even then, they weren’t there to document existing human rights abuses, but to prepare for the attack. Their sole function seems to be to find whatever flaws they can in the behavior of the US, to the exclusion of any and all atrocities committed by the other side. In fact, as their own people are being held and threatened with death, they exonerate their abductors and place the full onus on their fate on the US and our allies.

Also, CPT has as its core belief a complete repudiation of violence. In that spirit, any attempt to rescue their team members would involve the use of violence, and the compunction to respect their beliefs is great.

With all that in mind, the temptation to simply ignore their abduction, to leave them to their own fate, is tremendous. Lord knows that was my first instinct, as well as my second, and third, and so on.

But I’ve come to a different conclusion. And it was, of all things, our recent discussion of state quarters that tipped my opinion.

Legend has it that in Texas, one valid defense to a murder charge is “he needed killing.” It sums up the notion that there are some people out there without whom the world would be an infinitely better place.

The kidnapers of these CPT people strike me as some people that “need killing.” They’ve already shown what sort of tactics they practice, and the next time they might not choose someone so sympathetic to their cause.

I don’t think we should put a single US soldier at risk to save them from the hands of their erstwhile allies cum abductors. But I think those abductors need to be found and killed. If, in the process, we happen to save the CPT folk, all the better. I wish them no harm.

But I know that should their lives be spared by acts of violence, they will never forgive those that save them. It would be a gross violation of their stated ethical principles, and a repudiation of all they stand for. As someone who believes in respecting the beliefs and principles whenever possible, I think that must be honored.

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