Just the other day, I received the following email:
I don’t actually read your blog, but here’s a good topic if you’re willing to take a break from Hamas and Israel.
from the NY Times: U.S. Jets and Drones Attack Militants in Iraq, Hoping to Stop Advance
So we dropped some more bombs in Iraq last night.. the article itself isn’t anything you haven’t heard on the radio already. The Times picks comments make me sad though – very split between doing nothing and doing more. Do we let the IS run amuck in the region and keep killing everyone or start in with our forces again? There’s no real good answer here.
My correspondent is correct, of course. There is no real good answer here. A whole lotta new questions, but not one comes with an answer.
Caught in the middle of the Middle East, and with much too much exposure in this game of drones, the Kurds are getting it from all sides. They are not their own masters. There never was a single country called Kurdistan…it started with a bunch of small principalities, grew into an amalgam of emirates usually under the “influence” of a caliph-type overlord, and eventually a few bigger states. But endless war took its toll, and by the end of the 16th century, the country was divided up and taken over by the Safavids (Persians) and the Ottomans (Turkey.) Now, that area straddles Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and Armenia. Despite their regional, religious, and cultural differences, the Kurds considered themselves Kurds and dreamed of being in charge of their own land.
The jihadists fight under the banner of ISIS/ISIL:The Islamic State of Syria and Iraq / The Islamic State of Syria, Iraq, and the Levant. The group goes after the smaller, more diverse ethnic populations with a convert-or-die position. One group, the Yezidi, are clinging to the top of a mountain trying to escape. Some who remained in hiding below have been airlifted out, but the ones on the mountain are dying from hunger, thirst, and exposure.
While the attention of the world was focused on other battles in the Middle East, ISIS/ISIL were marking the doors of non-Sunnis and targeting them for death. There is substantial photographic evidence of crucifixions, beheadings, point- blank executions, and other barbaric practices that are impossible to fathom in the 21st century.
My mind keeps cycling back to gas chambers. And ovens. And mass graves. And silence. The world was very silent when news of the Final Solution emerged from Germany. There was no outcry protesting the murder of Jews at the beginning…or the middle, for that matter…except from other Jews. In America, we have louder voice, but not loud enough to get President Roosevelt to let the passengers of the St. Louis disembark in the United States. On June 6th, 1939, the St. Louis sailed back to Germany.
Martin Niemöller, a Lutheran pastor and outspoken foe of Hitler, is best remembered for a little poem he wrote. That poem has morphed into a thousand memes, but the original is quite succinct and sufficient:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Folks, I get the part about not getting in the middle of a civil war. I get the part about Muslim v. Muslim violence is a whole ‘nother bag of crazy. And I get the part about not getting in the middle of another Middle East debacle. I get all that and I pretty much agree with the “no boots on the ground” thinking. But how do we sit here in silence and let the Kurds die the same way the world let us die? How do we not get involved? We are damned if we do and damned if we don't.
My correspondent was spot on when he said, “There’s no good answer here.” There isn’t. As the governments try to navigate the morass, the one thing we can do is NOT be silent.
6,000,000 Jews died because the world was silent when people were needed to stand up to genocide. Now, it’s our turn to stand up to be counted in the quest to get the would-be victims out of harm’s way.
NEVER AGAIN applies to everybody.
The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
If your neighbor refuses to stand up to genocide, make sure you do enough standing up for three people. A little extra never hurt.