|New York Times
Cult of Death
By DAVID BROOKS 9/7/04
We've been forced to witness the massacre of innocents. In New York, Madrid, Moscow, Tel Aviv, Baghdad and Bali, we have seen thousands of people destroyed while going about the daily activities of life.
We've been forced to endure the massacre of children. Whether it's teenagers outside an Israeli disco or students in Beslan, Russia, we've seen kids singled out as special targets.
We should by now have become used to the death cult that is thriving at the fringes of the Muslim world. This is the cult of people who are proud to declare, "You love life, but we love death." This is the cult that sent waves of defenseless children to be mowed down on the battlefields of the Iran-Iraq war, that trains kindergartners to become bombs, that fetishizes death, that sends people off joyfully to commit mass murder.
This cult attaches itself to a political
cause but parasitically
strangles it. The death cult has strangled
the dream of a Palestinian
state. The suicide bombers have not brought peace to Palestine;
brought reprisals. The car bombers are not pushing the U.S.
Iraq; they're forcing us to stay longer. The death cult is now
strangling the Chechen cause, and will bring not independence but
But that's the idea. Because the death cult is not really about the cause it purports to serve. It's about the sheer pleasure of killing and dying.
It's about massacring people while in a state of spiritual loftiness. It's about experiencing the total freedom of barbarism - freedom even from human nature, which says, Love children, and Love life. It's about the joy of sadism and suicide.
We should be used to this pathological
mass movement by now. We
should be able to talk about such things. Yet when you look at
Western reaction to the Beslan massacres, you see people quick to
divert their attention away from the core horror of this act, as if to
say: We don't want to stare
into this abyss. We don't want to
acknowledge those parts of human nature that were on display in
Beslan. Something here, if thought about too deeply, undermines
we use to live our lives, undermines our faith in the essential
goodness of human beings.
Three years after Sept. 11, too many people have become experts at averting their eyes. If you look at the editorials and public pronouncements made in response to Beslan, you see that they glide over the perpetrators of this act and search for more conventional, more easily comprehensible targets for their rage.
The Boston Globe editorial, which was typical of the American journalistic response, made two quick references to the barbarity of the terrorists, but then quickly veered off with long passages condemning Putin and various Russian policy errors.
The Dutch foreign minister, Bernard Bot, speaking on behalf of the European Union, declared: "All countries in the world need to work together to prevent tragedies like this. But we also would like to know from the Russian authorities how this tragedy could have happened."
It wasn't a tragedy. It was a carefully planned mass murder operation. And it wasn't Russian authorities who stuffed basketball nets with explosives and shot children in the back as they tried to run away.
Whatever horrors the Russians have
perpetrated upon the Chechens,
whatever their ineptitude in responding to the attack, the essential
nature of this act was in the act itself. It was the fact that a team
of human beings could go into a school, live with hundreds of children
for a few days, look them in the eyes and hear their cries, and then
blow them up.
Dissertations will be written about
the euphemisms the media
to describe these murderers.
were called "separatists" and
"hostage-takers. " Three
years after Sept. 11, many are still apparently
unable to talk about this evil. They still
try to rationalize terror.
What drives the terrorists to do this? What are they trying to
They're still victims of the delusion that Paul Berman
after Sept. 11: "It was the belief that, in the modern
world, even the
enemies of reason cannot be the enemies of reason.
unreasonable must be, in some fashion, reasonable."
This death cult has no reason and is
beyond negotiation. This is
what makes it so frightening. This is what causes so many to
a sort of mental diversion. They don't want to confront this
they rush off in search
of more comprehensible things to hate.