Chicken Martyrs

Sunday, September 03, 2006

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.


truepeers said...

Well obviously we believe you can do with your life what you want, that everyone owns their own life; from my reading of this quote of Warren, it sounds like he is saying, "this is what I would hope Christians and I would do with our lives, if placed in this situation"... which is his business; and the Captain is trying to make the case that he is demanding everyone act this way, which is not how I read it. I think he is only idealizing a Christian response.

Frankly, I have no idea how courageous, or, unwilling to take these crazy people seriously (and so I'd say whatever it took to get out when I would then immediately condemn Islam - unlike these two journalists) I'd be in that situation; but from reading the guy for some time now, I'm willing to bet David Warren would take the knife. Some people just have it in them...

Anyway, the point I would make is that conversion to Islam should be illegal in western countries, since Muslim apostates who speak out publicly put their lives in danger. This is a "faith" where you can check in any time you want, but you can never leave. And we have laws in our culture against selling yourself into slavery, heroin addiction, etc. We each own our own lives but we must remain responsible owners or society has a right to step in...

If conversion to Islam became illegal as long as apostasy and conversion out of Islam remains "illegal", then when our hostages "converted" we could all rest assured that what they had done under duress was not a legal act and that they had no right to do it; and so, in the eyes of our law, it never really happened.

Pastorius said...

I agree with TruePeers, I have no idea what I would do in Centanni's situation, but I would hope that I would refuse to mouth the words of conversion, because it is denial of Christ. I would hope that I would tell my attackers that I believe in Christ, the Son of the Living God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob.

I pray that I will stand for my faith. What's more, my faith has taught me that the Western idea of Freedom of Conscience is tremendously important. If we do not have freedom to choose then we can not be authentic, and inauthentic people will become a danger to themselves and others.

The idea that a person should die for a faith they do not believe in is preposterous.

However, it is not at all preposterous to say that everything we have which is good in life we have because people have been willing to die for the ideas upon which our civilization is based.

I think it is one thing to decide one does not want to die at the hands of a madman. It is quite another to give in to the demands of a person who is a representative of an ideology which is diametrically opposed to everything you believe in.

terrye said...

Have either of you ever been in anything remotely like this position? It is easy to be brave when it is just you and the keyboard.

I think Warren sounds as wacky as the Islamists. He is criticizing these men for not dying. That is absurd. And wrong.

And truepeers, in the United States we have a constitution with the right to religious freedom, we can not make conversion to Islam illegal.


If some guy is threatening to lob off your head if you do not say a certain thing, you are not denying are dealing with a fanatic. Surely God knows what is in your heart. Go ahead, refuse to convert, they torture you, they kill you... there is no tape on AlJazeera of your being all brave. It is easier than blowing us up. We play their game. They kidnap us, give a choice at gunpoint and then kill us. They control the whole show. In the end we are dead and this is what they want.

terrye said...

BTW, how many times did Peter deny Christ?

truepeers said...

Terrye, I do not pretend to be brave, sitting here at my keyboard. Of course it's easy to talk, and as I said I don't know how much courage is in me if I ever have to face such a situation - my experience being limited to run-of-the-mill bullies and I have not always comported myself well.

But you are not being brave either in misrepresenting Warren for "criticizing those men for not dieing". He says he would have ignored their story if they had just acted with normal "cowardice" and pretended to convert in order to live. He says he is criticizing them precisely because after the fact of their ordeal, now back home, they do not criticize Islam, and also stick to the ridiculous argument that as journalists they should remain neutral in this war.

At CQ you are making the argument that commenters "wish these two people were dead", which sounds like the commenters are horrible indeed. This is not very brave of you because it is evading the point. Of course we should not wish people dead... unless of course they find themselves in that kind of circumstance which does occur in life of having to choose between two deadly evils.. and this is the kind of situation that demands bravery and we will never have it when we need it if we don't prepare ourselves by talking about it now.

Do I wish you dead if you find yourself, say, reporting on American soldiers handing out candy to Iraqi children, when along comes some psychopath who lobs a grenade into the crowd. You are the closest person to the grenade. Do I want you to jump on it? Well, yes. Does that mean "I want you dead" - well you could put it that way if you wanted to, but I only want you dead if you can save others in dieing...

And this is what I don't see you arguing - is this specific hostage situation one in which the actions of the hostages have likely endangered the lives of other innocents? I'm willing to admit doubt - we can make good arguments on both sides of this question. But this is the question.

The bottom line for me: while this war would be over much more quickly if the west stopped appeasing the Jihadists and stopped giving in to the moral blackmail of the White Guilters at home, of whom the media with their ridiculous claims to neutrality are leading proponents, this is not to say I think that in every possible situation one must refuse all forms of appeasement or blackmail. But if one goes along with appeasement for tactical reasons - e.g. saving one's skin so that one can live to further the culture of life - then one should stand up, after the fact, and say that this is what one has done. Maybe in time these two guys will do just that.

As for religious freedom being an American right under the constitution, my argument is that Islam, as it is presently practiced in the majority of cases - how many "moderate" Muslims do we hear denouncing this forced conversion? I've seen none - is antagonistic to religious freedom. So, when our law outlawing conversion to Islam is challenged in the courts, this is the argument we should make. For starters, we might say that Islam as presently practiced is much less a religion, as the authors of the American constitution understood "religion", than it is a political movement, a movement opposed to the very constitution of the United States. The constitution is not a suicide pact - sometimes we have to take sides and deny someone else's idea of their "freedom".

We have a huge class of left-liberal thinkers/media people who think they have the right to whatever freedom is needed to criticize and undermine the very foundations of western culture, including acting as terrorist propagandists. If we value western freedom we will deny these people and do whatever is necessary to keep then under control. Of course this is a dangerous and morally fraught business and we will make mistakes in denying people "rights" - but what other choice do we have? Submission or signing up more and more people to face, potentially, the horrible price that sometimes must be paid for freedom. Of course it's easy to say all this when you are just typing and not actively paying. But it's a start.

truepeers said...

And this is what I don't see you arguing - is this specific hostage situation one in which the actions of the hostages have likely endangered the lives of other innocents?

-sorry Terrye, this is not completely true. I do see you arguing that the terrorists control what videos go out, so it doesn't matter what the hostages do - it's not their show. Good point. But what about the arguments on the other side - that doing what the terrorists want does help their propaganda effort and that ultimately this war is all about proving whether or not the west still has a backbone to fight those who are parasitic on its freedom; or is the west terminally stuck in appeasement and moral "white guilt" blackmail?

terrye said...


Two things: Warren has no right to criticize these men at all and I heard these men in part of an interview after they were released and they made it plain that they felt the men that were holding them were murderers.

terrye said...


The point is these men went through a harrowing ordeal and now they are being attacked by some sanctimonious columnist who has no idea what they went through or what their circumstances are. And if you read some of those comments they are calling these men cowards for making the tape, for not standing up to the terrorists.

My God man, their families did not even know if they were dead or alive for almost two weeks. People should leave them the hell alone.

terrye said...

The amazing thing this is Fox news. The people the Democrats say are so biased for Bush and the neocons.

truepeers said...

I think it's important that we ask ourselves "what would I do in their shoes?". Of course, we'll never know what we would do, when reality replaces fantasy, but it's important that we try to prepare ourselvs for the moral dilemmas of life. The fact is, even if we have no business being sanctimonious about these two guys, their choice has consequences for other people, for the next hostages, for the next person making up his mind what side to take in this conflict, for the next tourist in Bali, and this is something we must discuss and our choices must be open to some kind of cool-headed criticism.

The terrorists know what we value and they are out to manipulate what we hold most dear - life, freedom, respect for cultural or racial minorities in our midst, freedom of conscience, forgiveness, etc. If they get better and better at manipulating us, what do we do? Say we can't criticize the horrible choices forced on us, and that we aren't going to decide, but just muddle through? If we do that, we get the Israeli situation where the choice between fighting to rid ourselves of a deadly enemy or killing the terrorists' human shields/possible allies and being widely accused of being barbarians for doing so, is just too heavy for us to bear; and so, instead, we end up making the terrorists "partners in peace".

I think we must recognize that some people in this world are our mortal enemies and so we can and should expect people to get more accustomed to choosing sides, hopefully ours, and acting accordingly. Morally, you can't be neutral when people are being killed all around you. Leave or take sides. Whether you are capable of action at any given moment is one thing. But when you are free to speak, you should be able to say more than "I'm neutral" or "these guys are killers but I have some sympathy for them". Of course these two journalists have been through an ordeal; I'll give them time to say what I think they should.

Coisty said...

David Warren: I didn't condemn the two Fox News journalists for simple cowardice. I condemned them because they didn't think twice; because they took capitulation for granted. I condemned them because they showed no regret for having committed apostasy & treason, regardless of how they were pushed to it. Because they sold out the West without a second thought, & continue to sell us out now that they are free. That is what I found so starchless.

If, after their release, they had shown the slightest contrition for what they had done, I would never have bothered to write about them.

If Centanni and what's his name (the cameraman married to a BBC presenter) don't publicly renounce their forced conversion (and name change) they should be considered Muslims from now on. It's one thing to say "yeah, yeah, I'm a Muslim" whilst ignorant morons point a gun at you; it is quite another thing for them to continue to prattle on about "the great Palestinian story" (whatever that is) long after they've returned to the West. Are they sorry for apparently becoming Muslims or not? I can't tell as they've been completely non-judgemental about the whole thing. And to make matters worse they are encouraging (practically begging) other journalists to go to wretched Gaza and cover the "great Palestinian story". (That shouldn't take too long).

My suspicion is that they are more concerned about their careers than about standing up for what is right. In that respect they are typical of what has become of the West. No doubt Muslims will have been encouraged by their lack of resistance and failure to renounce their new identities. It'll be more evidence to the Islamic world that the West is a weak horse.

gumshoe1 said...

true peers -

you should write
for a year.

you have so much to say
and to share,
but your words get in the way.

Syl said...

Islam, the Roach Motel of religions---you can check in but you can never check out.

Even the idea of refusing to 'convert' and become a martyr to Christendom is unChristian IN THE 21st CENTURY.

Why revert to the old days when we're hoping Islam becomes more modern.

Quite frankly I would have no respect for someone that foolish.

Syl said...


My suspicion is that they are more concerned about their careers than about standing up for what is right.

This is a war. And it's going to get much worse before it gets better.

Your moral preening actually disgusts me.

Syl said...


but I would hope that I would refuse to mouth the words of conversion, because it is denial of Christ.

This wasn't the Last Supper.

The words are not magic.

Cross your fingers if only you are imagining you are doing so and Jesus will forgive you.

Maher is being condemned for his show the other night, but he DID say the 'magic words' and mocked them. To me that was a cartoon moment that more of us could emulate.

This soul searching is just giving them more power over you.

Coisty said...

Even the idea of refusing to 'convert' and become a martyr to Christendom is unChristian IN THE 21st CENTURY.

So Christianity is whatever is fashionable. Forget the permanent things, including the truth and go with the flow. Yup, that's worth sacrificing for!

Why revert to the old days when we're hoping Islam becomes more modern.

Equating Christianity with militant Islam is quite common these days on the far left. It's also disgusting.

Quite frankly I would have no respect for someone that foolish.

You don't respect someone for dying or even just fighting for what they believe in. I guess that's why you're by your keyboard and not in Iraq fighting for your sacred liberalism.

luc said...

I think that it is always wise to comment on facts rather that our interpretation of facts. Therefore, I ask the question:

Did Centanni and Wiig CLEARLY RECANT their conversion upon regaining their freedom?

It is imperative to note that claiming that they coerced into becoming Muslims IS NOT recanting and all possible explanations as to their conversion and/or lack of CLEARLY recanting that conversion is totally irrelevant to the question!

If the answer to the question is that they did not clearly recant their conversion, I feel that any criticism of Warren is inappropriate and the reasons given in the post are nothing but support for two clearly dishonest individuals.

As my comments relate only to Centanni and Wiig’s actions following their release, no questions of “courage under fire” are raised, only questions of the CURRENT moral rectitude of individuals that were once held captive.

I think the question of moral rectitude is more important that people realize. When thinking about moral rectitude consider the following:

1. How many of the current prisoners at Guantanamo do you think would convert if they were coerced?
2. A Ben Gurion University professor told Voice of Israel government radio Sunday that respondents in the survey were shown video recordings to public figures and that Nasrallah outdistanced Israeli leaders for telling the truth. "We reached a really crazy situation," the professor said.

terrye said...


Easy for you to say. You have nothing to lose. It is not your life or your loss or your business.

terrye said...


Whether or not they recanted is none of your business. That is the point. It is between them and their God, not yours.

maybe they are atheists and don't feel the need to recant.

I think the fact that people think they have a right to judge someone who has been through such an ordeal is in and of itself an unChristian act.

And I was raised a souther Baptist.

terrye said...


BTW, the prisoners at Gitmo are AlQaida, they are murderous religious fanatics. I doubt if any of them would convert and what is more I have not the slightese desire to be like them in anyway that is the point.

Are you saying we should fight fanaticism with fanaticism? Be more like our enemies?

terrye said...


And btw, you do not know what is in these men's hearts. I was raised to believe that Jesus loves us. I sang that song every day and I said my prayers and went to church and I blieved. I did not think that Jesus was like Allah, a vengeful God who demanded death and blood. And I still don't. The early Christians hid who and what they were, and signalled each other with a secret sign. Was this because they were cowards or because if they all died there would be no one left to believe?

Either way, it is not our place to judge people. expecially people who have spent weeks in terror. And a good Christian should know that.

I figure that since we are all in a preaching kind of mood I might as well jump in there and point out the fact that you are not God, it is not your place to judge.

terrye said...

Another reason Syl and I are at our keyboards and not fighting in Iraq might be that we are middle aged women. I doubt if they want us.

Luther McLeod said...

I think it unrealistic to say that we cannot ever "judge."

We all judge everyday. Dennis Prager, some time ago, had a most interesting discussion re this subject. Due to my advanced CRS I don't remember much, but one point I do remember. And that is, there is a big difference between judging and being judgmental.

Judging is a genetic "fight or flee" response to the world around us. An anatomic survival mechanism.

Being judgmental, OTOH, is a different ball of wax. A learned behavior, with myriad motivations.

Therefore I feel I can judge these gentlemen, in so far as their actions may threaten my existence.

But I should not be judgmental of them, realizing the particular ordeals they faced.

IOW's, a pass on their actions while being held hostage, but their future actions to be judged by the impact those actions have on the war that will decide our continued existence.

terrye said...


I disagree, we have no right sit in judgment of these men. We don't know enough about thier circumstances to judge them.

They are not criminals, they did not do anything to anyone including you. There is no way to say otherwise. After all, they were victims of a crime, not perpetrators.

So yes, if they were child molestors we could pass judgment, but the fact is the military does not even expect soldiers to do what so many people seemed to think these journalists were supposed to do.

I have to ask, who do people think they are?

loner said...

This is no mere ethics quiz: I invite my reader to ask himself what he would do in the situation those Fox journalists found themselves in. Not what I would do -- I am just the messenger -- but what you would do. And before you give any quick or clever answer, recall that our whole civilization stands or falls on what you decide. Do you, do we, have the courage to hold our spiritual fortress? Or will we, in the time of trouble, give everything away?

My quick and clever answer: If Warren's "civilization" stands or falls on my answer, it falls, but then I don't think Warren's "civilization" has all that much in common with mine.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

It's always a pleasure to be able to agree with Terrye and Syl.

Syl said...


Equating Christianity with militant Islam is quite common these days on the far left. It's also disgusting.

Then why do you do it?

I'm not the one endorsing martyrdom for Christians.

terrye said...


It does happen every now and then doesn't it?

Luther McLeod said...


As usual, I was not clear.

"a pass on their actions while being held hostage, but their future actions to be judged by the impact those actions have on the war"

Though I thought the above said I was "not" either judging or being judgmental re their actions while being held hostage.

I will judge and possibly be judgmental only in respect to their future actions. Those will be "free will" actions on their part and certainly open to "judgment."

If they take a side, which the affectation of neutrality is sometimes a result, can I not disagree with that action. And is not my disagreement "judging."

Else, why do we discuss at all?

By the way, I am having a terrible time getting comments to open and properly work. Anyone else?

terrye said...


I do have that problem sometimes too. I have no idea why it happens.

I think the thing I find the most annoying about this is the attitude on the parts of some people [not saying this is you] that these men owe us something.

I have heard them called traitors, dhimmis, cowards, useful idiots, and all manner of nasty things from people who seem to think they have the same rights the terrorists claim to have. The right to life and death. That is why I discussed it, because I was so taken aback by the presumptuous attitude on the part of some people who were judging these men.

I have no idea what Centanni and Wiig will say in the future. But just because they don't claim to hate all Muslims because of their ordeal does not make them moral cowards. And if they make a point of not being neutral as some people think they should then it might not only be dangerous for them to even work in the Middle East, they could make it dangerous for others as well.

Luther McLeod said...


I most certainly agree with you in respect too what some people are saying. I guess I was assuming that as a given. My bad.

I am not asking that Centanni and Wiig hate anyone, based on their ordeal or otherwise. I predicate my comments on the future based on my pessimism that things are going to get much worse before they get better. If things do get worse there will be a time when most all (journalists included) will have to choose sides. That may well be regrettable, but it may also be realistic if we want to survive.

As far as neutrality and safety, I think we have seen the results of that scenario, recently, in southern Lebanon.

truepeers said...

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

Geez Loner, you quote that, without adding any commentary, as if it were holy writ.

And, indeed, it is... But how can that be? - surely the Constitution belongs to the secular domain... but if indeed the Constitution itself is sacred, then how can the Constitution's authors say that those representatives of the people who inherit their sovereignty have no business passing a law on matters religious?... Surely, they must be assuming there is some way of distinguishing among different forms of the sacred and/or religious.

Might, then, someone give us a workable definition - workable in the sense that we can readily distinguish what is and isn't "religion "- of what the constitution's authors thought were the boundaries of religion?
And in doing so, wouldn't we have to assume the somewhat arbitrary, historically evolved and particular, boundaries of the Judeo-Christian tradition in which the founders were thinking and working, i.e. that tradition that distinguishes (unlike, say, Islam) secular and sacred spheres?

And instead of simply deferring to the Constitution's holy words, as if were, well, a Koran - i.e. perfect, eternal, with no need for historical re-interpretation - perhaps you might like to address the claim of Justice Jackson that the constitution is not a suicide pact. In which case, how can you be quick to assert that there can be no limits to "religious" freedom, if the representatives of a given, rapidly growing, religion seem quite overwhelmingly (and sometimes explicitly) on the side of the view that one day, if not yet today, Sharia should replace the Constitution that is your holy book? If now is not the day, but if it comes down to a clear-cut fight between Sharia and your Constitution, how then will you feel about converts to Islam?

Or forget about all this, but maybe you might like to address my claim that a "religion" that threatens its apostates with death is not really a religion, but a form of slavery? If so, do we have a right to put ourselves into bondage to a indistinguishably sacred/secular law, if not to a man?

In this whole discussion, it seems we are talking past each other because we don't agree on the seriousness of the situation we face. If you see the terrorists as evil but not a fundamental threat to western civilization, you will be quite rightly inclined to think we have no business judging the two journalists for what they did under duress. However, if you see our situation as near apocalyptic - i.e. quite possibly on the brink of a nuclear war, with Europe and our own societies' continued existence as western cultures in doubt - then I think you necessarily have to ask the question: if, through no fault of our own, we are taken hostage and used in the kind of hostage-beheading propaganda that is found at every Jihadist internet site, and on Arab tv - propaganda that exists precisely to show that we are weak and they are strong, and that if we threaten them they will appease us even though they are rich (but decadent) - then, once the ordeal is over, assuming we survive because we did what needed to be done to meet the moral imperative of survival, should we then be clear about which side of this apocalyptic conflict we are on? and, if we think we have been most evily used, should we say so?

I can side with Terrye if I assume the situation is not apocalyptic; but i think i have to respectfully differ with her if i do.

Syl said...


I can side with Terrye if I assume the situation is not apocalyptic; but i think i have to respectfully differ with her if i do.

Then we've already lost.

Hiding behind kidnapped civilians and using them as cannon fodder in reverse propaganda is what it looks like to me.

Look, we don't negotiate with terrorists. So they start to use new tactics--conversion is the latest.

All we have to do is make it clear that the West does not accept those conversions.

And that will come over time. Because believe you me this sooner or later will be happening inside the West as well.

I'd rather fight back with our own propaganda than force civilians to martyr themselves when kidnapped.

Pastorius said...

I think it is a mistake to equat what Islam is calling martydom with Christian martydom.

Islam calls blowing oneself up to kill innocents "Martyrdom."

Christianity was built on the backs of people who refused to buckle under to Rome's insistence that their faith was a lie. The Romans then, of course, gave the Christians a choice; renounce Christ, or die.

Surely, we all understand that our country and the Western world itself were built on similar acts of martydom. We have, throughout Western history, reached points repeatedly where certain threats to the forward march of freedom have arisen. At those points, brave men and women have decided that it was time to tell evil it would receive no more quarter, no matter what.

This is what Patrick Henry meant when he said, "Give me liberty or give me death."

I don't begrudge the Fox News Reporters their lives. However, I don't think they are an example for us. I think a healthy society would hold up its heroes, and ignore its cowards.

They can shuffle off into quiet obscurity and live with the fruits of Western Civilization.

And, I am not saying I would have had the guts to make any other choice myself. I am only saying that we as a society need to make a different choice about how we feel about acts of bravery and acts of cowardice.

terrye said...


Our founding fathers lived in a time when Catholicism was considered sacrilege by meaning people here. In fact there were Colonists who threatened to refuse to ratify the Constitution if the Catholic church was not outlawed. It was not.

Recently a Mormon was jailed in this country for polygamy and rape. That he can be jailed for.... his religion he can not.

So no, we can not outlaw Islam, it is against everything we stand for in this country. If any of these people get out of line and break the law, they will pay but we can not outlaw the religion itself.

BTW, what chance is there that Canada would ever do such a thing?

My point is that what these men say or do has to be their decision. We can not play by the rules of the terrorists by forcing people to accept death, if we do we are not a whole lot better than the crazy people who took them captive in the first place.

Death is what these guys want for us anyway. The truth is Warren and people like him are acting more than a little like zealots themselves.

Pastorius said...


I don't believe my prayers are magical incantations. You brought up the example of Peter denying Christ. Certainly, I know the story and do believe that God would forgive me if I did deny Him.

However, that story is not to be held up as an example of why we ought to deny what we believe in so that we may save our asses. You know that. I shouldn't even have to say it.

terrye said...


Those Christians were not volunteering for death. They hid who they were and had secret signs with which to identify each other and they were not encouraged to seek out martyrdom.

Besides the only people who seem to think that Centanni and Wiig should be martyrs are the people who were threatening to kill them and certain religous zealots who were not even there. How do you know these men are Christians? Maybe they are atheists and think the whole thing is just a ruse.

And do you really believe that Jesus is some spiteful God who can not see in the hearts of men? That he sits on his throne and demands the upmost obedience up to and including death? That sounds midieval in and of itself.

I am not saying the Fox men are examples for us, I am saying people have no right to judge them one way or the other. They did not volunteer to be martyrs or examples or anything else. There is something so presumptuous about that. I find it distasteful, really I do.

BTW, it could just as easily be argued that Christianity survived not through martyrdom but because Constantine converted to Christianity and made it the official religion of the Roman Empire.

terrye said...


I do know that. I also know that Jesus loved Peter and had faith in him despite his faults and weaknesses.

Pastorius said...

You said: "We can not play by the rules of the terrorists by forcing people to accept death..."

I ask: When did anyone ever say we ought to force people to accept death. I believe I can say for both TruePeers and myself that we are talking about societal standards, not coercion by force or threat of imprisonment.

Just to make it clear, by societal standards I mean mores, or values, or virtues, or, you know, things we believe in. That's what this is about. I believe the West allows and ought to allow, humans to make their own choices about what to believe and what to stand for. But, that does not mean that the West itself doesn't stand for anything, and that we shouldn't hold up as exemplary those who will stand up for the West's cherished values.

Pastorius said...

You asked: "How do you know these men are Christians? "

I say: It's not just about being Christian. I am a Christian, so that is something I would stand for. That's why I bring it up. However, I think I was clear in saying it is about Western values; Freedom of conscience and speech, and the like. Liberty, you know.

loner said...


I'll make it simple. No, and we don't.

The Constitution of the United States of America applies to the United States of America. It is not holy writ. It is the law. Someday, perhaps, someone will attempt to convince the courts that Islam is not a religion. For all I know, someone already has. I don't live in a country where they'll prevail and I'm not sure I'd want to live in a country where they'd prevail.


Pastorius said...


You said: "And do you really believe that Jesus is some spiteful God who can not see in the hearts of men? "

I say, here is what I wrote:

"I don't believe my prayers are magical incantations. You brought up the example of Peter denying Christ. Certainly, I know the story and do believe that God would forgive me if I did deny Him.

However, that story is not to be held up as an example of why we ought to deny what we believe in so that we may save our asses. You know that. I shouldn't even have to say it."

How did you miss that?

terrye said...

I tell you what, anyone who agrees with Warren should sit down and write Centanni and Wiig a letter.

Lecturing me is not really that productive.

So why not ask them why they betrayed their culture and religion by opting for life instead of serving as examples and dying?

Tell them how you feel about what they did, force them to expalin themselves to you and let them know how differently you would have handled the situation. I am sure Fox would forward any mail.

Go to the source.

Pastorius said...

You say: "I am not saying the Fox men are examples for us, I am saying people have no right to judge them one way or the other."

I say: I'm saying, we do have a right to judge as a society. We judge that they are not heroes and that it is best that they slink away into obscurity unless they want to start confronting the truth and telling us what actually happened.

terrye said...

I missed it because I wrote it before I saw your post pastorius.

And don't get snarky with me just because I think it is tacky to lecture these men for doing what they had to do to stay alive. Especially when the people doing the lecture are not in any immediate threat of death themselves.

What if they had refused to do this? Do you think AlJazeera would have aired some heroic tape of these men? Hell no, they would have been killed and their bodies dumped and that would have been the end of it.

terrye said...


And who decides what society is? You?

We do not agree on this so which one of us gets to be society?

Personally I don't think that saying what you have to in order to spare yourself torture and death is any more a sign of weakness than it is to sit in relative safety and expect a couple of hostages to die for your belief system. Just becsause you would rather see them stand up or whatever. That is not brave, that is not heroic.

Pastorius said...

Sorry about the snarkiness.

Pastorius said...

Obviously I do not get to decide what society is. The way it is determined is that people like you and me write a whole bunch of crap on the internet, and we talk about the ideas in public, and gradually a consensus forms. And usually there is a large group of people who disagree with the consensus, and they sit around and agitate against the consensus and try to bring it down, and then gradually a synthesis forms between the consensus and the ideas of the agitators.

I'm very aware of that fact. I just thought I'd write it down, so you could see that I haven't declared myself Emperor yet.

All that being said, I'm going to write and write on this topic because I wish to see our society change. I wish us to be braver than we have had to be in a very long time. Braver than I have ever had to be.

terrye said...


Giving terrorists what they want, your life, is not brave. It is suicide.

If you can kill them on your way out or if you can save another life, maybe then it would be worth it...but to just let them kill you is not brave. That is what they are all about anyway.

I am not saying that what these reporters did was right or wrong. I am saying that when you find yourself in a situation like that you may not have the choice of right and wrong. Just surviving might be the only thing you can think about.

I knew an old man who was one of the hand full of American soldiers who survived in a Japanese POW camp in the Philipines. He did and said a lot of things that he can not bear to think of today, but he survived and the men who ran that camp did not. Does that make him a coward?

There is a saying, discretion if the better part of valor.

Pastorius said...


You and I will probably not agree on this soon.

Here's something I think you and I would agree on. If these guys were threatened that they would die if they did not give up some information that would be useful to the Islamists in their fight against our civilization, then I think we would agree that it would be better to die, right?

terrye said...


I don't know how to answer that. The DoD changed its policy concerning what soldiers can and can say under duress. That came about after Vietnam when so many men were tortured and beaten and starved. So I guess I would say that these men are not soldiers, they are journalists, in fact Centanni is 60 years old and Wiig is a New Zealander, he is not an American at I can't imagine what information they would have..but I would say they should not be held to tougher standards than the US military is held to. And probably less.

terrye said...


If we were terrorized for weeks on end how can any of us know what we would do or say?

loner said...


Whatever the earlier problem (I could only get into coments by opening a new window) things appear to be fine now.


What Jackson wrote is: There is danger that, if the court does not temper its doctrinaire logic with a little practical wisdom, it will convert the constitutional Bill of Rights into a suicide pact.

It is the last sentence in his long dissenting opinion in Terminiello v. City of Chicago, 337 U.S. 1 (1949). Good reading.


More often than you know.


truepeers said...

I don't actually think Islam should be outlawed unless one day things become much more polarized than they presently are. I think we should start with trying to change Islam to make it compatible with western civilization. And one of the first things that has to change is the life sentence that hangs over apostates.

But how do you pressure a religion to change? Is it even possible? I think it is, in theory, but that's not to say we will succeed; perhaps, in the long run, we will have to come to terms with failure and start some kind of forecful separation of what is and is not compatible. But we should try first to remove what is incompatible with western freedom through engagement. And that's what I really want to talk about, and not get sidetracked into arguing about something I haven't (yet) suggested: outlawing Islam.

We need to make it clear that Muslims in our countries are involved in processes of reciprocity with the rest of us. As long as Muslim leaders refuse to criticize forced conversions and death threats for apostates, those Muslim leaders have no business converting anyone - this should be a law that reflects the kind of recipriocity we expect from those who enjoy religious freedom under our constitusions. I could give mnay other examples of how we have to engage "the other" to insure the kind of reciprocity that will make Islam compatible with the west. E.g. any Muslim leader who defends violent terrorism should be before a judge, pronto, and those who would defend his freedom of speech - "one man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter" - in the name of civil rights should be sternly reminded that we are in a war and that our constitutions are not suicide pacts that can allow for treason and sedition. And this means, among other things, that those who swear to uphold a constitution might one day have to choose between upholding the spirit and the letter of the constitution. If the majority elect (as in Weimar Germany), according to the letter of the constitution, parties that will undermine the constitution, then we need people who will fight to defend the constitution against the majority. If we can't make these kinds of distinctions between the letter and the sacred spirit of the law, then we are lost. Maybe the day is not here now. But it can come, in America as readily as elsewhere. People are always prone to idolize the order that presently exists, as if it were eternal; in the long run, it never is.

Terrye asks if we are likely to outlaw Islam in Canada. It sure doesn't seem that way at present - just the other day the Conservative government sent the top general to a Mosque to encourage Muslims to sign up to join the military and help change its dominant "white male" culture.

But depending on how you look at it, this means we are either closer to accepting Islam, and discovering new forms of reciprocity, or we are coming to a showdown sooner than perhaps our neighbor to the south.

Pastorius said...

As I said, I am not saying that I would have the bravery to do the right thing. I am only saying that I believe our society has to come to a consensus that we are willing to fight and die for our beliefs, and that those who don't ought not be proud of themselves, but instead should be ashamed.

truepeers said...

So I just said in my last post that Islam was a religion, which it is. But, it is also - sticking to common usage of these words in the west - a political system. It is the former we have to encourage at the expense of the latter, and if this means restricting "religious" freedom in the name of political freedom, so be it, because I really think I am advocating for religious and political freedom in the end.

terrye said...

This is going to sound as if it is neither here nor there but not so long ago in this country the KKK could terrorize people with virtual immunity. How long did it take us, as a people, to stand up these folks right here in our communities?

And right now we have drug dealers scaring people into submission every day.

The other day I was listening to some talking head going on about the poppies in Afghanistan and I thought to myself, hell these people can't get rid of the weed in Kentucky much less the opium in some desolate, sparsely populated third world country.

I hate these terrorists, I really do, but we can not interfere with a religion in this country until and unless they cross that line and in the past when the perpetrators of mindless violence were burning crosses in people's yards it was hard to find brave folks to stand up to them..right here. So before we pass judgment on all of Islam perhaps we need to remember that.

truepeers said...

ON the question of tactics, I largely agree with Syl and Terrye. We should not be devoting all our energies to arguing over the terrorist's narrative. Instead we should be belittling and desecrating that narrative - laughing out loud at the whole idea of forced conversion. But we still have to remember that in a war it is suicidal not to respect your enemy. Islam is a huge existential force - 1.2 billion people and as such it is deserving of a lot of respect and inevitably this means engaing it to some degree on its terms, if with the goal of undermining those terms in the event. So I don't think we can but argue over how western representatives have acted in their free or forced engagement with Islam. We must respect the Muslims as fellow humans, but we sure don't have to think they are closer to the ultimate truth than we are. Their idea of martyrdom is not ours, but it is ultimately part of a common conversation/conflict we have to engage.

terrye said...


I think laughing at them really drives them nuts.

The other day I saw this skit on Brit Hume, it was taken from Letterman...and there was that video of Osama and Zawhiri sitting in the mountains talking and voices they used were a couple of guys saying things like "We don't care what you have heard we are not gay. We know all the jokes, two guys in a cave and all that, but we are not gay. Oh yes and death to America."

I had to laugh. But I bet they didn't. So much of this seems to be about some wounded pride nonsense and so laughing at them and ridiculing them can be effective.

Of course they are not closer to any essential truth. Just look at how unhappy they are.

luc said...

edmterrye said... 4:43 AM, September 04, 2006

“Whether or not they recanted is none of your business. That is the point. It is between them and their God, not yours.”

Since I think that commenting on a news item is as much my business as it is yours, I consider your reply to my point of view is rude.

maybe they are atheists and don't feel the need to recant.

From your reply it is obvious that you did not understand my comment; I was not commenting on the consequences of converting to Islam as a religious act but on the moral fiber or, actually better said, the lack of moral fiber of someone submitting to such an act!

I think the fact that people think they have a right to judge someone who has been through such an ordeal is in and of itself an unChristian act. And I was raised a souther Baptist.

As I said in my original reply, my comments apply strictly to the actions of Centanni and Wiig following their release! It does not matter if they were Jews, Christians, Buddhists or whatever prior to their PUBLIC conversion. What I comment on is their just as public lack of contradicting their conversion FOLLOWIN THEIR RELAES from captivity.

You may chose to ignore and excuse that fact, however, I can tell you from personal experience that having experienced in my youth an equivalent situation as theirs (not identical); I did not maintain silence after regaining freedom!!

truepeers said...

Terrye, well, seriously for a Mo', I'd say they are either homosexual or really ascetic and celibate guys, because they sure don't value women and their sexuality as much more than things to own and control. The reason those jokes really hurt them is because Arab culture, by many reports, is full of male on male rape. It's all about dominance and submission, as a certain exemplary prophet no doubt told his slave women; so I guess the joke should be about being gay but not so "gay" - if i only had some wit...

truepeers said...


you say America can do nothing to interfere with a religion until it crosses a line of actively engaging in violence. But I think you would agree that something should be done if we can round up thousands of witnesses who would testify that they had been threatened with/received violence for apostasy (or other forms of sacrilege) as I think we could if we really put our minds to protecting apostates.

The obvious first thing to do would be to prosecute the individual offenders for their threats or violence; but what if it becomes clear that these offenses are part of a systematic pattern? At some point, a courageous people should challenge that system, but how? How can you, to take my example, pass a law against conversion without making a mockery of the law arresting every passionately believing convert?

It's a practical question I haven't seriously considered; but one idea i have is that you start with the assumption that Islam is both a religious and a political system; and you say we are not going to interfere in any way with the religious system but since Islam in many countries, and in the dominant interpretation of the faith as represented in the world today, is also a political and legal system, we cannot allow Islam to be led by those who support or practice violence - as is now common. If we can establish all this, then we should be able to defend our right, on behalf of the constitution, to monitor and license Mosques to insure that political violence is not advocated there.

Then, we can say that only those with a license - i.e. with a proven committment to making Islam compatible with the west - can convert people. And, on the other hand, those who allow themselves to be converted by advocates of violence can be treated under terrorism or gang laws, at least in extreme cases.

But all this assumes that Islam can be made compatible with western traditions. If in the long run this proves not to be so, and if Muslim numbers in the west continue to grow, then we will have no choice but to choose between one or the other - to defend the spirit and integrity of our constitutions, or the letter.

Gormless Norman said...

Sorry to come late to this discussion. I'm with Pasto on this one, and I think I can single out two key points where I differ with terrye:

1. Terrye said in the main post, our superiority to Islam lies in the fact that "we value individual human life." I see the same facts as leading to a different conclusion. We value nothing more than basic physical survival, there is nothing worth dying for. We have purged our universe of all transcendent ideas like honor, pride, courage, sacrifice, etc., in favor of the here and now, and sheer comfort and survival. Not so for Islam: as they show every day, there are plenty of things Muslims are willing to die for. I don't think our purging of transcendent values makes us superior. To the contrary, it renders us mere globs of cells and molecules, no better or worse than a bunny, or a sea urchin.

2. I disagree with using the term "chicken-martyr" for the same reason I don't buy the "chicken-hawk" argument. If you want my opinion about which MRE is most tasty, ok, I'll defer to a soldier. But being in the military has nothing to do with the question of whether a given war is justified. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and the best opinions should emerge on top as a result of dialogue and testing ideas against each other, not as a result of shutting-up certain people and promoting others on the basis of appeals to authority. Here, the "chicken-martyr" argument essentially says this: "I have not been in this tough situation, therefore I am not qualified to pass judgment on those who have been." This moral view is skewed, in my opinion, because it seems to imply that, if I'm not capable of meeting a certain standard of behavior, I can just adjust my moral compass so that my standards are not so strict. Turn down the dial a bit, and...Presto! I've done the right thing! Brilliant!

Excusing cowardice on the basis that it occurred under duress is ridiculous: it's easy to be brave when there's nobody threatening you! Would we turn down the dial in the same way for other things, like theft? Of course I stole that car, but look how nice it is, and it was guaranteed that I could get away with it! Sure I raped her, look how hot she was, and she was passed out drunk! Were you in the room too? No? Ok, then shut up, you're not qualified to pass judgment on me. Benedict Arnold? I'm not going to pass judgment on him. I was not in the Revolutionary war, so I'm not qualified to make moral judgments about him. Plus he was able to get some money, which was practical and pragmatic. Jesus died for our sins? I guess that might be a noble thing, but I'm not going to say it was either good or bad because I've never been threatened with crucifixion. Actually it was stupid of him, he should have done the pragmatic and practical thing and said whatever he had to to the Romans to let him live, right?

For those who think Centanni's behavior is not to be condemned, or (although I can't quite get my mind around this) is actually commendable, let me ask you: what would you not do to avoid being killed by Islamists? Of course you would pretend to convert; would you lick their boots? What about raping your mother for the camera? No, that's too much? Ok, what about spitting in her face for the camera, would you do that? I'm just asking. The point is, this is not just a Christian/Muslim issue. Even if Centanni is a complete atheist, he could still believe in things like dignity or honor.

luc said...

Gormless Norman said... 7:23 PM, September 04, 2006

“Excusing cowardice on the basis that it occurred under duress is ridiculous: it's easy to be brave when there's nobody threatening you! Would we turn down the dial in the same way for other things, like theft?” …………..

I do not mean to be harsh as I agree with you, but why bother asking the question? You already know the answer: The dial has been turned down for other things already!!

I would like to ask you a question: What do you think the commonly given advice to NOT resist somebody stealing your car or property is? When seeing a crime committed NOT to interfere but call the police? Is this not turning the dial down?

Then everybody is surprised when something like what happened to “Kitty” Genovese on a night in the spring of 1964 occurs.

Pastorius said...

Gormless Norman,

Good points. Now, I want to point out something. You brought up the question of what a person might do to their mother to get pardoned by the Islamofascists. The sad thing is I think that one would probably hit home for a lot of people. They would finally say, "Oh, see now that I would never do. I wouldn't spit in my mother's face, or, I wouldn't piss on my mother's head, if the Islamofascists said do it, or you die."

But, the thing about that is basically then what they are telling us is while they wouldn't die for the ideas that go to make up our civilization, they would rather die than have to insult and degrade their mother.

In other words, they are tribalists, just like the Islamofascists.

Luther McLeod said...

OK, I've had me brandy.

Forgive me my naiveté. But, good discussion. These are the issues we 'will' be confronted with in the coming years. A true test of our values and beliefs.

At the heart for now, is Islam. And, as we all know there is comity between Islam and other totalitarian systems, fascism and communism come to mind.

But, in the sense that religion is involved. We are making that the centerpiece. When in fact, it is, in this case, just another enabler of total control by a minority few.

We require another definition of religion (and just what is that based on anyway, numbers?) When Scientology was admitted to the group I somewhat lost my forgiveness of religion as a concept upon which I should give credence. I see both Islam and Scientology as wayward beliefs, but under my constitution, on which I have sworn allegiance to on several occasions, I am obligated to commit to dying for them to continue.

Frankly, I don't care for that.

Gormless Norman said...

Luc, good point about Kitty Genovese, that's a good example of what most people would agree is cowardice. In his original article, Warren gives the example of 14 "men" who stood by and watched as a lone gunmen executed a number of women, and then excused their cowardice by saying, "We couldn't do anything, he had a gun." As far as why bring up the question of our moral dial being turned because we should crank it back up?

I went back up and read some of what other people said: Terrye, I can't believe you would actually condone someone committing treason by turning over vital secrets to the enemy on the basis that they "had to" do it because they were threatened with death. Is this right? Maybe you're not convinced that values like pride, honor, and courage matter, but I'm assuming you value sheer human life: in your view, the most important thing is to have a pulse. So let me add a bit to the hypo, using the thing you value, a pulse: as a result of the treason the traitor will live, but 3 Americans will die, their pulses will stop. Ok, how about 12 Americans. 100? Do you condemn his cowardice yet? What if the pulses of 3000 human-molecule vertibrates stop? Or no, are you withholding judgment because to pass judgment would make you a "chicken-martyr"?

Pasto, if someone in Centanni's position were to accept death rather than abuse their mother in some way, I'll still take it. It's better than nothing, even if it comes down to a "tribal" mentality, or a primitive urge. It's still some spark of pride, and as things stand in the West, I'll take whatever I can get in that department. Ideally, the same spark would prevent a Centanni from licking his captor's boots, or what's basically the same thing, pretending to convert to Islam -- which nobody, not him, not his captors, not the millions of Muslims who will download the video and laugh at his degradation believes was sincere. This is about how easy it is to make Westerners humiliate themselves, not about converting two people to Islam. This act will end up converting a lot more people to Islam, as it goes one small step towards showing that Islam is strong, and the West is weak. That's what it accomplished. Someone above said basically, if Centanni would have done a Quattrocchi, Al Jazeera wouldn't even have showed his video! Um, yeah, that's sort of the point.

Syl said...


Hey, what are we going for here? Mob rule?

We have a police force.

We have the military.

We have strict rules about how and when we can use our guns.

Our society has worked out who gets to enforce the laws and who doesn't.

Centanni wasn't a soldier, he was a journalist.

Analogizing and slippery sloping is lots of fun to indulge in but he converted at the point of a gun and I think so many are angry simply because he hasn't told us what he thinks about it.

And, in case you haven't noticed, not all muslims are willing to die for their faith.

Yes, we DO value individual lives and much prefer staying alive. I'm not one bit ashamed of that. It's our culture, our society, our values.

And, heck, we're Americans. So we'll figure out a way to handle this.

Meanwhile I refuse to advocate becoming a martyr when captured by these f*cks.

Luther McLeod said...

"And, in case you haven't noticed, not all muslims are willing to die for their faith."

Would that be the one's who have not yet been asked?

"angry simply because he hasn't told us what he thinks about it."

I, personally, think he should. He enjoys the fruits of our freedom and forgiveness, should he not be honest with us?

Syl said...

Furthermore, and I know this is snarky, but all this navel gazing is serious to you and THAT's what is so worrying.

Loner said: What Jackson wrote is: There is danger that, if the court does not temper its doctrinaire logic with a little practical wisdom, it will convert the constitutional Bill of Rights into a suicide pact.

Please bear in mind that Christianity is not a suicide pact either.

Seems to me a course of action that would be good for devout Christians, those who are Catholic anyway, is to ask the Pope. If he hasn't already, perhaps he will make a statement that forced conversions to Islam are not considered valid to the Catholic church.

Gormless Norman said...

Seems to me a course of action that would be good for devout Christians, those who are Catholic anyway, is to ask the Pope. If he hasn't already, perhaps he will make a statement that forced conversions to Islam are not considered valid to the Catholic church

OMG, that is so not the point. Nobody thinks this conversion is "valid," ok? It's not about converting these 2 journalists, it's about humiliating the West by showing that we no longer have any values worth dying for, including not only religious conviction, but also simple things like honor, dignity, and pride. Capice? I can't believe you don't understand that. The millions of Muslims who are going to download the "conversion" video onto their iPods to laugh at Centanni's debasement certainly understand it.

Syl said...


Would that be the one's who have not yet been asked?

Oh, please.

Ask the shopkeepers in Baghdad, or the guys waiting for day jobs, or the women at the market, or the families attending funerals. Ask them if they're willing to die so a caliphate can be imposed.

Ask the women in Afghanistan if they're willing to die for Taliban style sharia instead of going to school.

Syl said...

OMG, that is so not the point. Nobody thinks this conversion is "valid," ok? It's not about converting these 2 journalists, it's about humiliating the West by showing that we no longer have any values worth dying for, including not only religious conviction, but also simple things like honor, dignity, and pride.

OMG, you're hysterical about this.

The West is about individual freedom and that includes freedom to be stupid, to choose your religion, to renounce your religion, to have NO religion, to show most of your boobs at the beach, to not want to see boobs at the beach.

It's our FREEDOMS to do almost anything we want that they hate--not whether some journalist converted to Islam.

Yes, they probably don't get it because THEIR religion to THEM is ALL. But they don't have the capacity to understand us anyway. Capice?

Are you expecting them to admire us for some reason?

Luther McLeod said...


I was half joking and half serious with my comment. My point was, who is it, exactly, among the 1.3 billion hordes (yes, bad word choice), that we can trust. Who is it that is stepping out and saying, no more. Who is it, that is saying we respect the country we live in and its institutions. I know there are many muslims who just wish to live in peace. But if they never speak up, does it make any difference?

Yes, the purple fingers of Iraq were stupendous, yes, the Afghan women walking many miles to vote were also inspirational.

But how do we instill in these folks the knowledge that their religion, if practiced by its most basic beliefs, is their downfall in an attempt for individual freedom. Their downfall in living the life they would die for, if given the freedom of choice. We have yet to think of all the questions, much less the answers.

Work calls, so OTB. Very good thread.

Gormless Norman said...

Ah, I think I get it now. Centanni did a cowardly thing by humiliating himself and denouncing his country when threatened with death, but I should praise this act because, by making the choice to be cowardly, Centanni was exercizing his right to choose how to behave. And he was exercizing his free speech rights. On the other hand, if he would have said "f*** you" to the terrorists, that would be worthy of my derision, because then Centanni would have been buckling in to society's notions of "cowardice" and "courage," rather than making his own free choice to save his life by debasing himself on video for the enjoyment of the Muslim world.

It all makes sense now, thanks for helping me out.

luc said...

Syl said... 9:58 PM, September 04, 2006

“OMG, you're hysterical about this.”

Since I agree with Gormless Norman and, without being hysterical about this, and living religion completely out of the question, if you were in trouble, like somebody trying to rob you, who would you rather have pass by at that moment Centanni and Wiig or Gormless Norman and I?

I think it is fairly safe to predict that if Centanni and Wiig were the ones passing by, there would be a nice write up of your robbery and maybe that is all you need and want in life….

Syl said...


It may never happen. But civilizations have periods of peace and periods of unrest. I believe the current radicalization is due to the Saudi response to the Iranian rise over the past decades.


There's no Door C? Doesn't seem to be fair choices to me.


You have NO idea what Centanni would do in those circumstances.

What offends me about some of the 'arguments' here is that you're laying the responsibility of the entire war on the shoulders of two men who were kidnapped while doing their job in a dangerous part of the world.

terrye said...


Well maybe this is too late but don't jump on me buddy.

I mean it.

I think that going after Centani for what he said or did not say minutes or hours after his release is absurd and stupid.

Remember Jill Carrol? She was told that someone would be watching her for days. She was told that might kill her at anytime if she said the wrong thing. After being held like that, helpless for a long time people are not sure when they can feel safe. That kind of feeling does not just go away that easy.

And you know what? You do not know what those goons said to Centanni but whatever it was, he did you no harm. it is not his job to die to make you feel big and bad.

terrye said...


I never condoned treason. What I said is that these men were freaking journalists, they don't have any state secrets for God's sake.

And then I added that the US military has said that under certain circumstances soldiers who are forced to mouth bs are not held accountable for it, if they suffer torture.

And then I said who knows what people might say if they were tortured.


Now maybe you are such a big strong man that you would just spit in their eye..but we are talking about a 60 year old journalist for Fox news and a camera man from New Zealand and it is tacky as hell to sit home on your ass safe and sound and lecture them on their bravery.

terrye said...


As for who I would rather have passing by if I were mugged, I don't think you ranting on the internet is any real judge of physical courage, hate to tell you that but it is the truth.

Centanni was the first journalist on the scene after Saddam's sons were killed. That lead these crazy people to think he was either CIA or military, that is why they took them. It was not an accident or a chance encounter. They went after them.

So in other words, they were taken because Centanni had been on the scene in a dangerous place, where he might actually have been killed.

Now that might lead a guy to wonder if they were watching his colleagues or in the case of Wiig, his wife, who was also in the region.

Remember Daniel Pearl? I am sure they did.

So maybe, we need to leave these guys alone.

luc said...


We obviously disagree on the subject of Centanni and Wiig. I have specifically emphasized in every one of my posts that my comments applied strictly to their lack of recanting their conversion following their release; I did not comment on the act of conversion itself or its religious implications. I clearly stated my opinion as to the lack of moral courage of somebody who placed in an untenable position accepts to be PUBLICALY humiliated and then when given the opportunity does not object to humiliation. To the best of my knowledge Centanni and Wiig did not recant their conversion to this day.

I understand this is your blog and I wish to thank you for giving me the opportunity to comment. I also wish to state that although this is your blog, this gives you the right to insult somebody when they disagree with your point of view by accusing them of “ranting”.

Insults are no substitute for a well thought out argument. I could have ignored your post and not visit your blog again but, in a way, by meekly accepting your insult I would be exhibiting the same lack of moral fiber that I am accusing Centanni and Wiig of showing.
By posting my reply to your comment I let you and anybody else reading it judge for themselves our behaviour in this matter.

Good day!

terrye said...

Nothing I said to you was anywhere near as inuslting was what you said about these men. Not even close. Their families did not know if they were alive or dead for days. They did not know if they would end up shot, tortured, beaten, beheaded wor what would happen to them.

And you have the audacity to demand they recant something they said at gunpoint?

To sit in the judgment of them because they failed to say something you wanted to hear is so insulting as to be mindnumbing. They are not the criminals, they are the victims.

Just who do you think you are?

Gormless Norman said...

who would you rather have pass by at that moment Centanni and Wiig or Gormless Norman and I?

Luc, I don't know how I would act in a life and death situation, where my real courage/cowardice was put to the test. The fact that I believe in these categories doesn't mean I would live up to them any more than Centanni did. But, at least I believe in them.

Or, I should say I did, until Terrye convinced me that the best way to look at questions of morality is as follows: first, determine what standard you are capable of living up to; next, decide that the standard you're capable of living up to is perfectly co-extensive with what is right. For example: if, when I witnessed a rape, I was such a weak person that I trembled with fear and ran away rather than doing something to help, it would therefore follow that the appropriate course of action is to tremble and run. Further: if I was such a weak and evil person that, instead of merely trembling and fleeing, I actually had the urge to join in the rape, well, ok, that's what I'm morally capable of, so that becomes what is right. After all, God doesn't want us to strain ourselves, does He? Just do what feels basically good. Oh yes, and at all costs, make sure your pulse keeps going "thump, thump." That is the most important thing in the universe: my pulse going thump, thump.

terrye said...


The arrogance is astounding.

I am a middle aged woman and in spite of that I once pulled an injured young woman from a wrecked car that I thought might explode at any moment.

So I guess that means I get to sit in judgment of these men.

Truth is it is none of your business. They did not ask to be heroes, they did not claim to be heroes, you were not there and they were the victims not you.

I say leave them alone.

terrye said...

Tell me what did I say that can be taken by a sane individual as a call to mass rape?

I think that gorm and luc have more in common with the terrorists than they do with me. After all they and the terrorists all seem to think that grabbing a couple of guys and holding them at gunpoint is perfectly reasonable thing to do and since it is reasonable it then falls to the captives to say the brave things that will get them killed because after all it is not as if they have any inherent right to life or anything.

Gormless Norman said...

I am a middle aged woman and in spite of that I once pulled an injured young woman from a wrecked car that I thought might explode at any moment.

There's no question, that was a very courageous act, and I can only hope I would have the courage...

Wait, what am I saying? I've never been in that situation, so by your logic I'm not qualified to say whether your actions were courageous or not.

Never mind.