The crumbling difference between wrong and right

Unless Washblog is your first source for news, you already know that one person has been killed and five injured in a shooting at the Jewish Federation in downtown Seattle.  The first thing I wish to do here is offer condolences, I think safely offered on behalf of the Washblog community, to the victims of this tragedy as well as the friends and family who will help them bear the trauma of today's events.

I believe we should also offer our thanks to the emergency services and police who responded and seem to have gotten the situation under control very quickly.  Let it not be forgotten that we have some of the best emergency response organizations in the country here.

Little is known at this point.  No motive has been offered, and one person has been taken into custody - the police have just released information that the suspect is a Pakistani man from the Tri-cities, who has a criminal record.  

It is difficult to imagine this event not being related to the current violence between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon.  (News is quoting someone from the scene saying the shooter said "I am a Muslim-American and I'm angry with Israel" before he started shooting.  So far, this is just being reported from a witness)  I don't have a firm position on it - picking sides in that region is futile and wasted effort, and fails to account for the complexities of governments existing there.

However, assuming I'm right in my assumption that this is related to Israel/Lebanon, it brings to mind the title of this post (yes, cribbed from the lines of a song).  What has happened in our world to the concepts of right and wrong?  It seems to crumble daily, violence providing rationalization for further violence.  Those of you used to me know I take the always unpopular nuanced view of things in Iraq and elsewhere, but complexities and reality aside, there are things which are right, and things which are wrong.  

I see Hezbollah raiding the Israeli border, killing several soldiers and kidnapping two.  Does all the history which precedes that date justify their actions?  Israel begins a massive raid on Southern Lebanon.  Does the (very real, btw) threat from Hezbollah justify their actions?  As it continues and escalates, at what point have we crossed the lines of right and wrong?  Does anyone even care about right and wrong anymore?

Now, it seems possible we'll spend the next weeks reading about an attack on Jews for some sort of revenge against Israel.  What will be our response?  Will we take the side of Israel?  Will we support the apparent shooter's right to "fight back"?  

Or will we, finally, stand up and say STOP!  ENOUGH!  Attacking mosques as after 9/11, shooting Jews, attacking others for their religion or nationality is wrong, we must be better than this.  The person who lost their life today doesn't represent Israel.  They're just someone who came to work this morning.  This kind of thing is lunacy, and it doesn't matter who is the perpetrator, who is the victim, or what their reasons may be.  

For our part, I urge calm.  We should, and must, take a hard look at what's happened today and examine why it's happened at all, much less in our community.  But most of all, let's respect those affected and remember to separate international actions by nations from the daily life of average people.  This cycle of right and wrong blending into a useless mishmash of revenge and hate cannot stop if we don't keep a clear view of what is right and what is wrong.

--  A note:  There is a demonstration against Israel's actions happening in downtown Seattle as this event unfolds.  Expect this to be connected to the event by the absolutists on the right-wing.   --

< Heads Up WA Legislators; Congresswoman Woolsey calls for Repeal of President's Iraq War Powers | Republican politics: Who Would Jesus Screw? >
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The decision to start peace is in the hands of each individual person. Revenge has been thoroughly discredited as a means for peace.

The accusations from the Right have begun. Sound Politics is blaming the Jim Vesey at the PI because he called for Neocons to be weeded out. I didn't know that Neocon as code for Jew. http://soundpolitics.com/archives/006565.html.

by noemie maxwell on Fri Jul 28, 2006 at 08:47:12 PM PST

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While the events in South Lebanon, Gaza, and West Bank certainly raise passions on all side of the issues here, it is too soon to say whether they are the primary reason for the sensless attack at the Jewish Federation.

Reports I have heard this morning identify the suspect of the Seattle shootings as Naveed Afzal Haq, 30, who until recently had lived in Everett. Haq apparently has a history of mental illness. Court records show Haq has a charge of lewd conduct pending against him in Benton County. He may have been off his meds. Should we indict our mental health services?

The shootings of Jewish children and staff at the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills, CA in 1999 was perpetuated by another irrational hater of Jews, Bufford O. Furrow Jr. He wasn't a Muslim, but he was brought up in rural Washington. It would be no more reasonable to suspect rural residents because  of this tangential similarity between the two men.

There is no doubt that these men had a rage bubbling in them. Their hatreds don't excuse their actions, but the hatreds acted out by others may make violence seem to be the solution in the minds of the shooters.

The London subway bombers were brought up in England, Haq graduated from High School in Washington. What is it that the injustices they see in the Middle East seem relevant to their personal circumstances?

by Rupert Aegis on Sat Jul 29, 2006 at 10:59:47 AM PST

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Of course all the violence is connected.

I've been reading about the conflicts in the middle east all my life. At this point, I really don't care who did what to whom. I just want people to stop killing each other.

Whatever their other faults, Carter and Clinton sought peace. The virtue of Clinton's efforts was that he was going sit on all parties until it was more preferrable to make peace rather than have Clinton hanging around playing the role of Best Friend for Life. I expected more of the same from Gore. Then, after a generation or two of peace, growth, and prosperty, hopefully all parties would have more to lose than gain from violence and everyone would insist on keeping the peace.

The track records of Reagan, Big Bush, and Little Bush -- specifically capitulation, enabling bad behavior, and cowardice -- have always served to worsen the situation throughout the Middle East. And we're all worse off for their efforts. Lucky us.

I expect more violence as we continue this downward spiral.

by zappini on Sat Jul 29, 2006 at 01:39:10 PM PST

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The Seattle PI has an article that Haq converted to Christianity last year

by Cherisse on Sun Jul 30, 2006 at 03:08:05 PM PST

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criticizes Gregoire without balance, celebrates a far-right-wing-radio festival at a military base for being truly diverse and more welcoming to families than Seattle street festivals .. etc. etc.

I assume Mr. Schwartz is reality-based in molecular biology, which is his scientific speciality.

As far as politics -- uh uh. This is a person creating division.

by noemie maxwell on Sun Jul 30, 2006 at 03:38:59 PM PST

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By Jove!  I think this is one Christian that's not quite Christian, Jewish, or Muslim enough for the room.  

Play nice, or Daddy will take the computers away!

by Christian Oliver on Sun Jul 30, 2006 at 06:04:13 PM PST

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Sorry, my software does not have a good spell checker built in.

OF COURSE there are wonderful Muslims.  My own ancestors benefited greatly from living in Andalusian Spain.  I personally have learned a lot form the Quran and try to use some of what I learned in my own life.  I have admired Muslims who see Jihad as the struggle for fairness.

But, my admiration for spiritual Jihad and commitment, does not mean that I am willing to be tolerant of the endemic hatred in Islamic teaching.

I would say something of the same sort about the teachings of some Christian sects.  Bush's church certainly says hateful things.  But the Southern Baptists are only one clement in the patchwork of today's church.  That patchwork is evolving, sometimes in good ways.  Can anyone not admire the Friends?  Today's Roman Catholic Church has come a long way, but it would hardly be intolerant if we were living in 1942 to rail at the Vatican's refusal to stand up to the Nazis.  Or .for that matter, to criticize the entire American Christian missionary movement for the atrocities committed in he movement West.

Islam is not like the Christian Quilt.  There are fewer colors and the ugly threads are more universal.  Try and find a Muslim leader with the reform agenda of John Paul or Paul Tillich or Gandhi or  Siddartha Gautama.  Islam needs to find some way to escape the prison of Quranic literacy.

BTW, it may interest you that in Jewish law, an observant Muslim is considered holier than an observant Jew.  That's is because Judaism teaches that the non Jew has fewer obligations to fulfil.

by Stevesm on Sat Jul 29, 2006 at 11:41:55 PM PST

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We all want to wish muslims well, but there is a problem.  

Are there good muslims?  There were good nazis .. consider the current Pope.  There were good Southerns who fought under the Stars 'n Bars.  BUT THE NAZIS, THE SOUTHERN WHITES, AND THE MUSLIMS were all ... and in the latter case are raised ... with hateful beliefs.  

One of these is that Prophet justly slaughtered 200,000 Jews of Yathrib ... now Medina ... for the crime of resusing to accept him as their Prophet.  Am I, a Jew, any different then my Yathrib forebears?

Jews have their failing too.  There are Jew who hate Muslims ... but Judaism does not teach such hatred.  

I feel for the Seattle Islamic community, but I am angry that instead iof accepting their guilt they deny it.  That is not good enough.

See more on Islam's problems at WWW.SeattleJew.com

by Stevesm on Sat Jul 29, 2006 at 04:27:35 PM PST

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This even must not be viewed in isolation.  The pistol may have been in the hand of a depressed, out of work guy living in a rented room furnished  with a mattress ... but he also made a choice based on the education he received as a Muslim.  

Islam badly needs peace.  But peace is ahrd to obtain when children are taight that there is only one truth and that those who deny that truth are infidels. How is Islam different from the versions of Christianity we see in the Aryan Nation?  Both claim brotherhood amongst believers, bioth claim a unique truth.  The difference, ti seems to me is that the bulk of modrn Christianity rejects the Aruan Nation as it does the horrible acts of the past.  

Islam needs to grow in the same way or we are all headed for something horrid.

by Stevesm on Sat Jul 29, 2006 at 05:51:31 PM PST

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Jeez ..such reasoning.

Sorry if you like Gregoire , but I am not impressed.  BTW I voted for Ron Sims and her attacks on Ron were a major factor in my decision not to support her.  I guess you don't like Ron. hunh?  To liberal for you?  He actually supports taxes!

Have you ever looked at an Army base?  Or you uncomfortable around a lot of hispanics and blacks? Not a lot of yuppie pot makers at the Army 4th either ... not too many people can afford a $25 pot on military wages y'no?  If you read my blog, then you know I went expecting to see a far right fest and came way impressed at the ethic mix .. somehting one rarely sees in White Seattle.

As for Limbaugh, THAT really ticked me off.  
Don't know what link you mean, but then maybe you are a dittohead?

by Stevesm on Sun Jul 30, 2006 at 04:13:20 PM PST

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