Along the Tracks

Monday, July 12, 2004

Darfur a reminder of the threat

From Saturday’s Northwest Signal:

A 10-year-old girl walks beside her pregnant mother, who is carrying a little boy on her hip. The mother and girl each have ceramic containers balanced on their heads as they and a couple dozen others bring the day’s drinking and washing water from the community well to their small huts a few hundred yards away.

Suddenly, two jets scream overhead, and rockets roar from their bellies. The village explodes in flame - knocking down everyone, even at this distance.

The children cry in fear.

Then new screams are heard, this time with male voices, in the Arabic tongue. Jihad has begun.

Riders whip their horses and descend upon the women and children interrupted from their daily chores. A long blade slices the little boy as the first horse charges through. Another knocks the mother back to the ground. This one stops, and with a fiendish smile, the rider dismounts, kicks the mother in the head, then rapes her. His final act is to slice open her belly with his curved blade.

The young girl, dizzy with fear and horror, turns to run. It is too late. The jihadi mounts, rides up and sweeps her onto his horse. She will be sold into sex slavery.

The men of the village never arrive to rescue or to avenge. They were all mowed down while out herding the cattle. One rider trots to the well, where he unties from his horse a dead calf. With some exertion, he lifts it to the edge and then pushes it over and into the depths, where it will rot and poison any who drink here.

Welcome to Darfur, Sudan.

Anyone who thinks this is “George Bush’s War” has it entirely backwards. A new breed of totalitarianism is exploding out from the Middle East. It started well before George W. Bush became president. It will continue whether Bush wins a second term or John Kerry takes the oath of office. It will keep pushing well into the future.

Islamism is strange concoction, mixing fundamentalist religion with a denial of the individual as anything but a tool. While its leaders often decry Western culture as subversive, its true enemies are freedom and democracy, both of which stand upon the principle of self-determination. Freedom and democracy are about choices. Islamism denies the right of the individual to make choices.

Just as totalitarianisms have had their various faces in the past - fascism to Nazism, communism to Stalinism and Maoism - Islamism has been evolving into various virulent forms. The Janjaweed militia in Darfur have adopted Nazism’s racial component: Most of the men, women and children the Arab Janjaweed have slaughtered - thousands upon thousands, so far - are fellow Muslims. However, the victims are also, like most native Africans, black, and for that sin they are being exterminated by holy decree.

Darfur has only drawn the world’s gaze of late because there the rivers of blood run deepest. But rivulets, streams and cesspools still gurgle throughout the Islamic world and in puddles scattered in Europe, Asia and the Americas.
Presently in Iraq, the battle is forcefully being waged, not just by Westerners seeking to stem the tide of blood, but also by Muslims tired of seeing their religion trashed by power-hungry zealots. Last week, the new Iraqi government provided information and called for an American air strike on a safe house of the bloodiest of the bloody, Abu Musab al Zarqawi. Just days ago, a group of hooded Iraqi men produced a videotape in which they vowed to take out the terrorist leader in defense of their people.

The war has proved a hard road for us, as Americans - but don’t forget, it has been a hard road for many Muslims as well. As they awaken to the threat which moves among them, they will be the ones to finally defeat it. But that is the future. Today, riders swing their blades, bombers strap on their nail-laden explosive belts, dictators trade and train in weapons of mass death, and illegal visitors fly airplanes into buildings. We are at war, and the Islamists will fight on to kill and maim and disrupt, whether we fight on or not. By engaging the Islamists in battle in their own lands, we limit their opportunity to strike us at home, and we provide the majority of Muslims of good conscience with the chance to take control of their own religion, and their own lives.

With their help, we will win the war - as long as we keep fighting it. The genocide in Darfur should remind us all of the rightness of our cause, and the gravity of the threat.

Paul A. Miller is managing editor of the Montpelier Leader Enterprise and the Napoleon Northwest Signal.

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