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A Difference Without A Distinction

One of the polite fictions that has finally gone to its well-deserved oblivion with the latest round of violence in the Middle East is the notion that an organization can have a "political" and a "militant" wing.

It started, I believe, in Ireland, where the Irish Republican Army set up a political party, Sinn Fein, whose members supported the IRA but were insulated from its actions. They quickly became known as the "polite face" of the IRA, speaking against the violence from both sides but constantly excusing that of their colleagues as "provoked."

When the Islamists saw how well that seemed to be working, they decided it was a notion worth appropriating. However, they didn't fully appreciate the subtle nuances involved in pulling off this chicanery, so they simply announced that their established groups would henceforth have two faces: a "political wing" and a "militant wing." Hamas and Hezbollah began doing charitable works, backing politicians, setting up schools and hospitals and the like while continuing their practices of wholesale murder and carnage.

At its core, it's a fraud. It is a form of moral equivalency that is reprehensible.

In essence, the conceit behind the "political wings" and "militant wings" is that one's good deeds balances out the atrocities of the other. It seeks to establish an equivalence, a form of moral currency. A 400-bed hospital equals so many suicide bombers. A school buys some rocket attacks. And so on. And so on.

Back in the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church made a tidy bit of change selling "indulgences" -- allowing people to atone for future sins. Once they had paid the penalty, they could go forth and commit the sin freely. It was one of the elements that triggered the Protestant Reformation, and ultimately rejected as morally reprehensible.

But the principle has returned, with these polite fictions that terrorists aren't terrorists all the time, and that we should tolerate them when the aren't actively killing people.

A terrorist who does good deeds is still a terrorist. And as the saying goes, the only good terrorist is a dead terrorist.

Israel is busy reforming terrorists by the acre in Gaza and Lebanon. We should not only deny the terrorists any succor, but do all we can to assist Israel. For the enemy they are fighting is merely another head of the Hydra we are fighting in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and threatens others all around the world.

Posted by Jay Tea · 18 July 2006 07:00 AM


Let us not forget the outrage that many had when Arafat was treated like a dignitary, not a terrorist by the leaders of the free world when the roadmap for peace needed someone to negotiate with. Clinton simply chose the largest and most popular terrorist in the Palestinian camps and offered him the respect and treatment that other heads of state receive.

Arafat either failed to stop the violence because he A. Did not want to or B. Could not control the radicals in Palestine. Either way, he was not a suitable negotiating partner, but Clinton needed someone he could negotiate with. That is the problem. Hamas and the PA tried to negotiate with the life of a 19 year old kid and Israel refused to legitimize kidnapping and extortion from the new PA. And why should they. Again, all of this can end as soon as the three soldiers are returned.

But who to negotiate with? The political wing of a terror group or the militant wing? Bullets do not distinguish which wing you belong to.

Posted by: Justin B at July 18, 2006 11:48 AM

"the enemy they (Israel)are fighting is merely another head of the Hydra we are fighting in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and threatens others all around the world." Posted by Jay Tea

You can't kill the 'hydra' by attacking the heads,(Hamas, Hezbollah, al Quada, etc.) you have to attack the body (Iran)

Posted by: d_Brit at July 18, 2006 12:12 PM

Oh for the good ol' days of the Inquisition, Holy Wars and greedy countries using the Church and "saving the savages" as an excuse to conquer and subjugate.

Hmmm. Not too different from the current Islamic approach, except they only mine our dollars with oil and aid BEFORE they conquer our countries.

Posted by: epador at July 18, 2006 01:10 PM

the body is israel not iran

Posted by: lester at July 18, 2006 02:55 PM

Why all this concern for negotiation in the first place, and what exactly is there to negotiate anyway?

Finish it now... before the next generation of Islamist weaponry makes the fight all the more horrific.

Posted by: Bat One at July 18, 2006 03:59 PM


Posted by: lester at July 18, 2006 05:19 PM

Indulgences are NOT applicable to future sins; only one's punishment for existing sins can be obviated with an indulgence. Indulgences can still be obtained and punishment for sin avoided. The Council of Trent (1567) prohibited granting them through any financial transaction, but they are available in exchange for certain beneficent acts.

Posted by: Malibu Stacy at July 18, 2006 05:54 PM

What about when an indulgence is a sin, as in the bowl of chocolate ice cream I had last night?

I suppose fishing my trackback out of the spam trap is out of the question?

Posted by: JohnJ at July 18, 2006 09:27 PM

In that event, John, you're entitled to be followed by a comedic bassoon soundtrack wherever you go.

Posted by: Malibu Stacy at July 19, 2006 05:04 AM

Yay! More entitlements!

Posted by: JohnJ at July 19, 2006 07:50 PM

Fight terror today or tomorrow you might wake up and find out that you have front row seats.

Posted by: Ozzie at July 19, 2006 09:26 PM

ozzie -s o what are you waiting for?

Posted by: lester at July 20, 2006 04:01 PM