Blaming the Victim: The Tom Fox Tragedy
A Column by Cal Thomas with Comments by Chuck Fager
Wrong analogy: the CPT team members saw the risks they ran as exemplified by the life and sacrifical death of Jesus. The "animal" on the "ancient altar" was the Lamb of God. and Tom's sad fate replicates this sacrifice with great faithfulness. It's puzzlng that Thomas, purportedly a Christian, doesn't see this.
The death of "peace activist" Tom Fox, and the threatened execution of the three others held with him in Iraq, is doubly tragic.
It is tragic whenever an innocent person is murdered. It is also tragic because the likelihood that the presence of Fox and his colleagues would change the attitude or behavior of their captors was zero to none. That the "peace activists" believed their brand of Christianity would trump the fanatical Muslims who regarded them as infidels and worthy of death meant that Fox and the others would either be used for propaganda purposes by the enemies of freedom, or made to sacrifice their lives like animals on an ancient altar in the furtherance of the fanatics' dream of a theocratic state. In this instance they were used for both.
This sweeping, unsupported generalization is basically a falsehood, driven by Thomas's pro-war political vision.
The motive of the activists was exposed in a statement from Christian Peacemakers Teams, under whose auspices Fox and the others traveled to Iraq. Spokeswoman Jessica Phillips said, "We believe that the root cause of the abduction of our colleagues is the U.S.- and British-led invasion and occupation of Iraq."
Strange thing about these peace movements: they rarely mobilize to oppose the killing, torture and imprisonment practiced by dictators. It is only when their own country attempts to end the oppression that the activists become active against America, not the initiators of evil.
Peace, like happiness, is a byproduct, not a goal that can be unilaterally attained. Peace happens when evil is vanquished.
These statements are not so far off; but the idea that the US invasion/occupation of Iraq has "vanquished evil" and brought anything resembling "peace" to that battered land is refuted by each day's new headlines.
Further, regarding Iraq, the idea that the US ever had the capacity to "vanquish evil" there, or ever had the prerogative to do so, is presumptuous and arrogant, and has likewise been proven false on both counts.
Does Thomas's Bible include the first chapter of the Gospel of John?? If it does, I defy him to show how this bit of Tom's theology as expressed here, departs from it.
The theology of Christian Peacemaker Teams is as wrong as its politics. The statement about Fox's death claimed that Fox had a "firm opposition to all oppression and the recognition of God in everyone."
Perhaps if Christian Peacemaker Teams had gone to Iraq during Saddam Hussein's murderous regime, or to China while Mao Zedong was slaughtering millions, or to Moscow while Josef Stalin practiced genocide on his people, or to any number of other capitals of carnage, they might be taken more seriously, though under those regimes they might have disappeared much quicker. Was God "in" these mass murderers, or was it Lucifer?
I can answer this last question for Tom, because we have much of the relevant background in common: God WAS in these arch-villains. Tragically, God's grace in them was evidently buried under an avalanche of evil. But God was still there. This too, contra Thomas, is entirely orthodox theology.
And CPT, for better or worse, was not in existence during the reigns of Stalin and Mao, so could not have visited there regardless. And in places like Colombia, my understanding is that CPT has indeed borne witness against various contending violent forces. (I'd say which one was the good guys, but I'm not sure.)
This is an interesting anecdote, but did not involve CPT or Tom Fox, and proves nothing about him or them.
A far more credible and compelling insight about peace activism and its consequences comes from Charles M. Brown, who was 19 when he fought in Operation Desert Storm, a conflict that repelled Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait. When Brown returned home, he worked in homeless shelters operated by liberal Catholic Worker activists and gravitated toward their position against U.N. sanctions imposed on Iraq for failing to comply with its promises to cease hostilities.
Brown says he traveled to Iraq in 1998 in order to see the effects of sanctions. He says he made two speaking tours of college campuses to denounce sanctions. When he tried to return to Iraq with a Chicago group called "Voices in the Wilderness," Brown says he was told by Iraqi government officials he could not speak about Saddam's "horrendous human rights record, (his) involvement with weapons of mass destruction (or) the dictatorial nature of the regime. We were allowed to speak only of one thing: the deprivations suffered by ordinary Iraqis under the sanctions regime."
Brown says he realized this was pure Baath Party propaganda: "As I came to see this as a complicity and collaboration with one of the most abusive dictatorships in the world, I tried to get the rest of my group to acknowledge that our close relationship with the regime damaged our credibility. I failed to persuade them, so I quit." His "Confessions of an Anti-Sanctions Activist," published in the summer 2003 issue of Middle East Quarterly, is sober reading for people who believe the United States is the problem and that evil people will be nice to us if we are nice to them.
Ah but they did, namely that the US pre-emptive Iraq war was an immoral enterprise. This was an understanding they shared with most of the Christian world, and even with the late Pope.
It is too bad that Tom Fox and his three colleagues did not have an epiphany similar to that of Charles Brown.
Actually, it often doesn't, and was not designed to. If Thomas would read tom Fox's blog, he would know that Tom understood very well just how "bad" his witness could make him feel.
Peace "activism" may make its practitioners feel good,
Which, of course, they were. Sacrifical efforts to make peace are always aligned with the will of God. Even if they seem to fail. Even if they lead to a cross, or an assassin's bullet. This agan is entirely orthodox theology.
or validate their belief that they are doing the will of God,
Surely we are to struggle against evil. But we are also to be aware of our own continuing state of fallenness and sin as we do so. Thomas is repeating the arrogrant presumption that God has somehow appointed the US, under its current regime, to eliminate evil from the world. This is false theology, terrible politics, and destructive folly as statecraft.
but evil cannot be accommodated. Evil must be defeated if peace on earth is to exist.
No it is not. Tom Fox and his colleagues saw very well what they were up against. That Cal Thomas cannot or will not see what a tragic, apostate, self-destructive morass his US-as-God's-crusader program has become is much more tragic -- and dangerous.
That Fox and his colleagues could not, or would not see this, is most tragic of all.