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The Slaughter of Innocents

September 15, 1986

Conflicts in ideas and identity that degenerate into armed attack seem repeatedly in history to take down with them the cultural greatness of the combatants, and it is perhaps there that the most long-term damage is done.

The recent slaughter of innocents in Pakistan and Turkey is deplorable as human behavior, regardless of the religious, national or cultural identity of the victims. Perhaps the most depressing aspect is the testimony it gives to the degree to which the greatness of a people has been sacrificed in the process.

In the Middle Ages, while European intellectual activity dried up, it thrived in the Muslim world. At the same time, the warriors of Islam were more than a match for most of the armies of the world, including the knights of Christendom. How terrible it is that in seeking resolution to the problems of the Middle East, and of the Arab Palestinians in particular, a people with so noble a history and world contribution have allowed such degenerate behavior to be identified with national objectives and be classified as heroism, and such insane dedication vented against unarmed men, women and children to be called bravery.

The world awaits the brave and intelligent men (and behind the scene, the women) of the Muslim world, whose reaction to this wanton slaughter of innocents must surely be as strong as anyone else, to rise above and take control of the situation.

L.W. COHEN

Claremont

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