Jewish World Review June 17, 2002 / 7 Tamuz, 5762

Lewis A. Fein

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The Murder of Shame | If there is one emotion missing among the vast numbers of Islamic radicals it is shame. For shame is the one thing - greater than any political law or stronger than any sweet but meaningless expression - that restrains people: the kind of fast-forward thinking that, when played within the mind's own cinema of horrors (of torturous actions, and the explosively quick shatter of brain, blood and skull) says -- "Stop!" Stop, not because the killer's instinct or the agitator's rage is any less human within one's soul, but stop because of the words we ourselves will never (thankfully) have to say -- that - in war, vengeance or justice - we went too far.

Yet, the attitude among Islamic radicals, when shown Daniel Pearl's videotaped murder or last September's innocent victims or Israel's daily buried, is decidedly more evil; a mournful sigh that, when nineteen hijackers terrorized America and hundreds more attempted to destroy Israel, these killers themselves did not murder enough children, widow enough wives and disrupt enough families.

This absence of shame is unlike previous acts of evil, moral wrongs treatable by stark evidence that refutes a whole nation's sense of glorious purpose; by the uplifted arms of thousands, each bearing Nazism's number; by the opened gates of murder's home, each displaying - like a country almanac's motto - false promises about work and freedom; by the cold acknowledgment that every road paved with headstones and every town littered with human ash is testimony concerning the rape of national pride. But, if this kind of truth - sealed by archival footage and anticipated by the projectionist's obligatory countdown from 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1 - is history's film, then Islamic radicals consider this program terribly incomplete. For the shouts and whispers among these killers echo throughout history's theater -- demands that Nazis, terrorists or local skinheads "Finish the job!"

This new evil will not surrender before the accumulated weight of its own murderous ideology, not when these killers blame Israel for last September's tragedy and deny radical Islam's prideful boast that southern Manhattan is now nothing more than fire, smoke and debris. No, there is only one thing that will forever stop these killers: their own total, devastating and unmitigated defeat. For evil ignored is murder invited, a silent form of approval that allows mullahs to behead, torture and rape -- so long as CNN is not looking.

Still, this war against a particularly vicious evil will be long and difficult. This is a war against an institutionalized brand of hatred, one that preaches Israel's destruction, America's collapse and Christianity's removal. And, lest there be any protest about different values between freedom and radical Islam or complaints about cultural chauvinism, remember this evil's own professed goal: that every Jew (as opposed to every Israeli) must die, and that last September proves America is worthy of additional attack.

This war must require patience and dedication, because when we too easily lapse - when we preoccupy ourselves exclusively with money, leisure or power - evil strikes. Evil strikes when we ignore it; when we excuse it; when we trivialize it; when we rephrase it; and yes, evil strikes when we invite it.

Evil arrives upon the carriage of confusion, driven by a chauffeur known as indifference. Only when we destroy this evil - only when we refuse to simply scold or handicap this evil - will freedom be our birthright. Only then will we live as Americans.

JWR contributor Lewis A. Fein is a writer and Internet entrepreneur in Los Angeles.Comment by clicking here.


© 2002, Lewis A. Fein