The Captain has a very interesting post up about the capture of Centanni and Wiig. It seems there are some people who think these men should have died for the cause.
David Schraub points to a strange column by David Warren that sounds like a demand for Christian or even Wsetern martyrdom regardless of one's own personal beliefs. Warren excoriates Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig for going through a mock conversion to Islam as a means of escaping their kidnappers:
Lately I have been looking at the large -- at how the West is proving unable to cope with a threat from a fanatical Islamic movement, that it ought to be able to snuff out with fair ease. (See my column last Sunday.) But the large is often most visible in the small.
The degree to which our starch is awash is exhibited in the behaviour of so many of our captives, but especially in these two. They were told to convert to Islam under implicit threat (blindfolded and hand-tied, they could not judge what threat), and agreed to make the propaganda broadcasts to guarantee their own safety. That much we can understand, as conventional cowardice. (Understand; not forgive.) But it is obvious from their later statements that they never thought twice; that they could see nothing wrong in serving the enemy, so long as it meant they'd be safe.
I assume they are not Christians (few journalists are), but had they ever been instructed in that faith, they might have grasped that conversion to Islam means denial of Christ, and that is something many millions of Christians (few of them intellectuals) have refused to do, even at the cost of excruciating deaths. Christianity still lives, because of such martyrs. Not suicide bombers: but truly defenceless martyrs.
I'm not going to do a point-by-point fisking here, because I doubt it would do much good, but Warren makes unsupported assumptions and then builds on them to a conclusion that seems almost as bad as anything radical Islamists say about suicide bombings.
Warren wants kidnapped hostages to die for Christianity and the West rather than jolly along their kidnappers to gain their own freedom. That may be a splendid sentiment, but it results in dead Westerners rather than dead Islamists, and I fail to see how that represents any kind of victory. One of the reasons why Western culture is superior to that of radical Islam -- and I say superior deliberately -- is that we value individual human life. Dying needlessly and purposelessly for the West doesn't gain us any converts in this conflict.
In his argument for martyrdom, Warren retells the story of the Italian hostage in Iraq that fought back rather than be beheaded. He leaves out the essential element of Fabrizio Quattrochi's story, however, which is that Quattrochi knew he was going to die. (He also makes an unsupported allegation that Quattrochi wasn't Christian.) Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's goons had gathered Quattrochi and his fellow victims for their execution. Rather than await the butcher's knife, the Italian charged his captors, who were forced to shoot him instead.
Brave, yes. Martyr ... not exactly. Quattrochi didn't die to defend the West; he died because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Warren complains about the image that Centanni, Wiig, and others who beg for their lives leave on the Muslim world. He says it makes Westerners look like wimps. That, however, is an indictment on their culture, not ours, that they place individual people in situations where they have to beg for their lives. Warren wants to play by Muslim rules, and he wants to do it with other people's lives. It's pretty damned easy to criticize hostages who have no idea how to stay alive except to cooperate and hope things work out well -- if the critic is heartless enough to do it.
I agree with the Captain. Warren is a chicken martyr.
I was amazed at the comments. It seems there are a number of people who think these men should be dead, for the West for Jesus, for them...I call them chicken martyrs. I mean come on the world is full of wacko Islamists, if one really feels the desire to die for God then rather than expecting someone else to do it for you, why not go confront a raving loon of fanatic for Islam and volunteer?
Years ago when I was young and real stupid I decided I would hitch hike to the other side of town. I was a student at Indiana University in Bloomington, In. I was picked up by a man in a big bronze car. He immediately locked me in and then we went for a ride. I thought I was going to die. He masturbated for me and terrorized me for quite some time. And then I got away. While I was in that car all I could think about was seeing my family again, one more time and I imagined what it would do to them if this man carried out his threats to kill me. I have to say unless you are in a position where you are helpless in the hands of a crazy person who is threatening you...well let's just say you have to be there to know what it is like. Someone who has not really does not have the right to pass judgment.
In other words, easy for you to say, it is no sweat off your ass.
UPDATE: Mark Steyn disagrees, I think. It seems his concern is about the ease with which western journalists are manipulated by the likes of Al Jazeera for a Muslim audience. That may be so, but it does not change the essential fact that this is about someone else's life.