CPT activist killed in Iraq
March 11, 2006 8:48 AM   Subscribe

The body of Tom Fox (a Quaker peace activist and Christian Peacemaker Team member who was abducted [previous MeFi discussion] by insurgents last November) has been found in Baghdad.
posted by the_bone (64 comments total)
 

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posted by matteo at 8:59 AM on March 11, 2006


Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.

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posted by ottereroticist at 9:08 AM on March 11, 2006


Tom Fox was undoubtedly a good man. I have read numerous accounts of him and was very impressed. And I continue to be interested in the Quaker approach to religion (no need for intermediaries like priests and such to have a relationship with "god" however you perceive that).

But...and there's always a but...Mr. Fox's death was entirely predictable...and preventable. It served no real purpose, IMHO, in the scheme of things. He should never have gone too Iraq. The world would have better off with Mr. Fox alive back in Virginia.

Hats off to a good but somewhat misguided man.

**putting on my flame retardant vest now**
posted by bim at 9:15 AM on March 11, 2006


Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.

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posted by EarBucket at 9:16 AM on March 11, 2006


Hats off to a good but somewhat misguided man.

Although I don't like to criticize someone who actually tried to do something, I think I agree with you. I'm sorry it's ended this way for him.
posted by 327.ca at 9:16 AM on March 11, 2006


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posted by mr.curmudgeon at 9:17 AM on March 11, 2006


327.ca writes "Although I don't like to criticize someone who actually tried to do something, I think I agree with you. I'm sorry it's ended this way for him."


Unfortunately, his death will now be used to further frighten the American public, as "evidence" that it's impossible to make peace with "Islamofascists", and as a retroactive excuse for the war ('"we're fighting the terrorists there so we don't fight them here -- see what they do to American civilians?").

It's heartbreaking to contemplate, but peace activist Tom Fox's death is just fuel for Dubya Bush's war machine.
posted by orthogonality at 9:21 AM on March 11, 2006


I had a chance to meet with the CPT team in Hebron a few weeks ago. I came away with many of the same concerns. I can't impugn their integrity, or their courage. I wondered, though, what their presence was meant to accomplish.

Still, this is a real tragedy.

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posted by felix betachat at 9:26 AM on March 11, 2006


I find it pathetically tragic, when people kill the folks that have the most open mind and heart towards them. Here, at least, is one true martyr in the Middle East.
posted by Atreides at 9:29 AM on March 11, 2006


Hats off to a good but somewhat misguided man.

The man died for what he believed in. Surely you do not know better than him.
posted by iamck at 9:30 AM on March 11, 2006


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posted by nickyskye at 9:39 AM on March 11, 2006


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posted by digaman at 9:41 AM on March 11, 2006


For those interested, this is what CPT has been working on in Iraq.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 9:46 AM on March 11, 2006


Way down at the bottom - you'll find what I personally believe could be their most important contribution to the region,

"CPT’s persevering presence and establishment of trusting relationships throughout the shifting sands of circumstance laid the groundwork for today’s exciting partnership with Iraqis committed to forming a “Muslim Peace Team.”
posted by Baby_Balrog at 9:48 AM on March 11, 2006


Here's hoping that there's still a chance for the others that were with him.

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posted by furtive at 10:01 AM on March 11, 2006


no need for intermediaries like priests and such to have a relationship with "god" however you perceive that

And weren't Quakers the first group (or one of the first groups) in the US to challenge the practice of slavery?
posted by j-urb at 10:01 AM on March 11, 2006


And weren't Quakers the first group (or one of the first groups) in the US to challenge the practice of slavery?

Yes.
posted by delmoi at 10:07 AM on March 11, 2006


"Act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God."

Requiescat in pace, Tom.
posted by darkstar at 10:08 AM on March 11, 2006


And yes, he is a martyr.
posted by darkstar at 10:09 AM on March 11, 2006


iamck --

While I don't debate Mr. Fox's right to risk his life as he saw fit." But dying for what you believe in isn't in itself inherently noble or good or anything else.

People have died for all sorts of causes that they believed in. And history has judged some of those causes bad (Nazis and Aryan superiority, for example) and others good .

IMHO, the average person in the U.S. has become desensitized to just another beheading or shooting in some far off land. A lot of people can't even name the Governor of their home state let alone recall anything about yet another hostage.

As I believe the late Tip O' Neill said, "All politics is local." The death of a well-meaning but misguided non-combatant is not local.
posted by bim at 10:17 AM on March 11, 2006


While dying for what you believe in may not in itself be noble, I find it hard not to see a nobleness in his cause. The man put himself in a place where he was risking his life, true. But should the death of all others who have died for noble causes be attributed to misguided behavior? Was Jesus misguided for dying on the cross?

All politics are local, indeed. He went to the heart of the matter, and his death, while possibly not making a difference here, was relevant there. His travels to Iraq made him local, and perhaps his interactions with the people who held him and killed him will influence their lives.
posted by iamck at 10:29 AM on March 11, 2006


It is profoundly tragic that someone with a heart of peace and such a selfless desire to help others could be so cruelly and inhumanely put down. Truly there can be no sanity left in Iraq, for those who come bearing peace to be met with such mayhem. I am saddened today.
posted by baphomet at 10:42 AM on March 11, 2006


What happened to that christian science monitor girl?
posted by delmoi at 10:50 AM on March 11, 2006


Check out this revolting shit.
posted by brittney at 10:53 AM on March 11, 2006


What happened to that christian science monitor girl?

Still no word. Another video (without sound, though) surfaced even though "the date" had passed.
posted by bim at 10:53 AM on March 11, 2006


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posted by JHarris at 11:08 AM on March 11, 2006


Unfortunately, his death will now be used to further frighten the American public, as "evidence" that it's impossible to make peace with "Islamofascists", and as a retroactive excuse for the war

You're right, orthogonality, that this is bogus as a retroactive justification for the war. It is, however, indisputably evidence that it is impossible to make peace with Islamofascists - no quotation marks. That they would butcher such an obviously good and peaceful man shows that religious intolerance and hatred know no bounds for these people. The people who did this are not the nationalist Iraqi resistance, but depraved Sunni jihadists who want to kill infidels as infidels - including not only Christians and Jews, but Shiites. There can be no peace with these people. We can (and should) try to change our policies to lessen the attractiveness of their message, but when someone becomes so radicalized that they would murder someone like Tom Fox in cold blood, they are beyond the reach of dialogue, and peace.

Having said that

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posted by Dasein at 11:13 AM on March 11, 2006


Tom Fox fought the good fight, so to speak. Westerners have done precious little leading by example in the Middle East, and he and his fellow Christians helped knock a few bricks out of the wall that al Qaeda is building between the West and the Arab world.

Let's just revisit one of the key phrases from his blog, shall we?

"Muslim Peacemaker Teams"

No wonder Zarqawi and his ilk want the CPTs dead: their small bands of dedicated and selfless activists are one of the greatest long-term threats to al Qaeda in the Middle East.

RIP, brother.
posted by xthlc at 11:31 AM on March 11, 2006


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posted by trip and a half at 11:31 AM on March 11, 2006


(As an aside, I think the term "Islamofascist" is a laughable non-sequitur that betrays a potentially fatal ignorance of both fascism and Islamists. I think "Islamist" ought to be enough of a slur on its own.)
posted by xthlc at 11:32 AM on March 11, 2006


"a very quiet man, very thoughtful and had a very subtle and quiet sense of humor."

Ouch.
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:34 AM on March 11, 2006


That they would butcher such an obviously good and peaceful man shows that religious intolerance and hatred know no bounds for these people.

This is a very old song, sung in each era of mankind by those who make it possible to slaughter thousands of people by insisting that they are not people, but beasts who "know no bounds."

Try singing it to the hundreds of Iraqi mothers and fathers who have lost their children to US bombs in this war. From their side, we don't know any bounds either -- which is why people like Tom Fox are heroes, even after a cruel death like this.
posted by digaman at 11:45 AM on March 11, 2006


Damn! When I first heard about Tom Fox and company, it was via an email at work "praying for their release". At first I dismissed it - some guy goes to Iraq to preach/proseletize. Sad, but not unexpected. And maybe futile. Kind of typical religious nuttery. (Me being an athiest, and all.)

But after doing some research, I found out a little more about the organization. I was actually quite impressed by their commitment, their mission and their sincerity. They're practicing what they preach. And the more I think about it, the more I admire what they're doing. It's just sad that their being puinished by the very people they're there to help. Same as Jill Carroll. Just a damn shame...
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 11:52 AM on March 11, 2006


digaman, I would be happy to tell any Iraqi that there is no moral equivalence between unintentional civilian casualties and the deliberate torture and murder of a defenceless person.
posted by Dasein at 11:53 AM on March 11, 2006


it is impossible to make peace with Islamofascists - no quotation marks. That they would butcher such an obviously good and peaceful man

Please, tell us more about "them" - Tom's murderers are people too, not one singular entity with a hive mind. This line of thinking is the reason that a couple of guys hijacked some planes and flew them into buildings a couple of years back.
posted by iamck at 11:59 AM on March 11, 2006


And of course, the Freepers are digging a new cellar beneath their usual cesspool:

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This man was no true American. He left the good old USA to encourage those who would murder me and my family, and you and your family.
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I think he was committed to his insane agenda every bit as much as the Islamofascists that killed him are to theirs. They are both willing to get us all killed for their warped world view. That, my friend, makes them equally dangerous to our freedoms and lives.
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. . . and, as usual, while pissing on his grave, they take the opportunity to indulge in a few disgusting snuff fantasies . . .

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So I think for every person the terrorists kill we should take maybe 100 of them and kill them by disembowellment. Which consists of being disembowelled, and the genitalia and entrails burned before the victim's eyes; the heart was the last to be removed and was then shown to the victim before the entrails were burned.
--

These people are truly our own homegrown Taliban.
posted by xthlc at 12:00 PM on March 11, 2006


Tom's murderers are people too, not one singular entity with a hive mind.

Since when did you need to be part of a "hive mind" to participate in an extreme ideology and sacrifice your own rationality to it? Fascists, whether religious or secular, are "people too," (though why you would use that phrase here baffles me) but that doesn't make them any less characterizable according to their shared beliefs.
posted by Dasein at 12:13 PM on March 11, 2006


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posted by unrepentanthippie at 12:21 PM on March 11, 2006


Please, tell us more about "them" - Tom's murderers are people too

I am open to the idea that you can't extend the acts of Tom's murderers to all Sunnis or Muslims or people living in Iraq.

But for the individuals directly and actually involved in his murder -- "people too"? Not so much, especially not if they understood why he was there. Not if you believe you can give up part or all of your humanity through inhumane actions.
posted by weston at 12:24 PM on March 11, 2006


Dasein, it's your characterization that is dangerous. Idealogies may exist, but they are loose ideas that have no physical form. People operate independently of idealogies, and put them on like they put on clothing. People can be many different things, and hold many different ideas. Lumping people into idealogies (which can be considered morally good and evil) lumps people into good and evil, and that type of duality begets violence by looking past individuality.

Tom's murder was committed by a person, or a few people, not by an idealogy. Idealogies don't murder people.
posted by iamck at 12:26 PM on March 11, 2006


But for the individuals directly and actually involved in his murder -- "people too"? Not so much, especially not if they understood why he was there.

Your definition of people doesn't include people?
posted by iamck at 12:27 PM on March 11, 2006


Idealogies don't murder people.

The gas chambers do?
posted by Atreides at 12:30 PM on March 11, 2006


Tom's murder was committed by a person, or a few people, not by an idealogy. Idealogies don't murder people.

Yes, but you're underestimating the power of extreme ideologies to motivate behaviour and negate individual agency. "Lumping people" into ideologies is not the problem - the problem is extreme ideologies themselves. You're implying that there is a problem in categorizing people according to their beliefs; in this case, it's the beliefs that are the problem. They would be just as murderous, and just as motivated by their ideology, whether we identified them with that ideology or not. To say that it's the categorization of people that begets violence...well, if you're talking about these religious fanatics categorizing others as infidels, I agree. If you're talking about us categorizing them as fanatics, you've got it completely backwards.
posted by Dasein at 12:33 PM on March 11, 2006


well, if you're talking about these religious fanatics categorizing others as infidels, I agree. If you're talking about us categorizing them as fanatics, you've got it completely backwards.

You concede that the categorization as infidels by religious fantatics begets violence - what makes this categorization uniquely violent in tendency?

It seems to be that impersonal violence (that which is committed namelessly and facelessly) can only be justified to the self by creation of "the other." Does our categorization of "them" beget violence? Not necessarily. But the creation of categorizies is the first and most important step in that direction.
posted by iamck at 12:59 PM on March 11, 2006


Well, I would say not just the creation of categories (there's nothing inherently wrong with identifying people as Americans, or Catholics, for instance), but dehumanizing others.
posted by Dasein at 1:06 PM on March 11, 2006


Look up a few comments, at another poster:

But for the individuals directly and actually involved in his murder -- "people too"? Not so much, especially not if they understood why he was there.

posted by iamck at 1:09 PM on March 11, 2006


Well, weston is pointing to sacrificing your humanity through inhuman actions, rather than just belonging to a group. So it's not quite the same.
posted by Dasein at 2:10 PM on March 11, 2006


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I bet they saw him as a spy or something.

And very telling difference between the reaction to him as compared to Rachel Corrie, where even plays about her can't be performed.
posted by amberglow at 2:34 PM on March 11, 2006


Dasein

"unintentional civilian casualties"? I could spend a career on parsing all the erroneous assumptions in that description of the deaths caused by coalition forces prosecuting their war.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:42 PM on March 11, 2006


Your definition of people doesn't include people?

A defense that includes "______ are people too" is generally making an appeal for empathy based on a shared humanity. I'm comfortable with that in a lot of cases, up to and including Muslims and Iraqis as a population.

In the case of people who murder a peace activist in cold blood because he's one of the closest Americans they've got within their reach even though he would have been happy to be a personal advocate for the welfare of their people, I think that appeal for empathy has considerably less merit.
posted by weston at 2:45 PM on March 11, 2006


"unintentional civilian casualties"? I could spend a career on parsing all the erroneous assumptions in that description of the deaths caused by coalition forces prosecuting their war.

You'd need a career to do it. It takes considerable training in sophsitry and postmodernism to equate deliberate murder with unintentional collateral damage, but I have faith.

I await demonstration of coalition forces deliberately targeting civilians. I've already seen plenty of evidence that the people they're fighting use civilians as human shields.
posted by Dasein at 3:24 PM on March 11, 2006


I met Cliff Kindy, one of the CPT who was kidnapped and escaped. He told a story of being kidnapped by Iraqis the CPT had befriended. Their friends kidnapped them, not because they wanted to, because other people in Iraq were going to kill the friends should the friends not capture the CPT/MPT.

This story, plus the fact that the cause of death is undetermined, should encourage caution; let's please not slip into some useless internet rage against "Islamofacism" or "those people" or whatever; there are so few good (english-speaking) journalists and so many crazy stories coming out of Iraq. I think a person trained in conflict resolution and so dedicated to the nuts-and-bolts work of peace would not ask anyone to fly into a rage on their behalf.

Cliff didn't seem to regret a minute, and was speaking the college circuit to raise monies to go back and support the MPT project, which he said was in great demand from the Iraqi community leaders they had befriended.

I think Tom Fox lived and died gloriously, and Odin willing, we'll see him in Vahalla.

And those of you who think these guys and gals are in Iraq "for nothing," I urge you to read up on Conflict Resolution, and maybe go to a training yourself. It in no way requires that you believe in any religion, but the practice of believing in the impossible does help, when it comes to confronting the problems of humanity.

From the words of the man himself:

I have read that the word in the Greek Bible that is translated as "love" in the word "agape". Again, I have read that this word is best expressed as a profound respect for all human beings simply for the fact that they are all God's children. I would state that idea in a somewhat different way, as "never thinking or doing anything that would dehumanize one of my fellow human beings."

As I survey the landscape here in Iraq, dehumanization seems to be the operative means of relating to each other. U.S. forces in their quest to hunt down and kill "terrorists" are as a result of this dehumanizing word, not only killing "terrorist", but also killing innocent Iraqis: men, women and children in the various towns and villages.

It seems as if the first step down the road to violence is taken when I dehumanize a person. That violence might stay within my thoughts or find its way into the outer world and become expressed verbally, psychologically, structurally or physically. As soon as I rob a fellow human being of his or her humanity by sticking a dehumanizing label on them, I begin the process that can have, as an end result, torture, injury and death.

"Why are we here?" We are here to root out all aspects of dehumanization that exists within us. We are here to stand with those being dehumanized by oppressors and stand firm against that dehumanization. We are here to stop people, including ourselves, from dehumanizing any of God's children, no matter how much they dehumanize their own souls.
posted by eustatic at 3:29 PM on March 11, 2006


[that was meant to be smaller, i don't know why the font size thing didn't work, it worked in preview i swear.]
posted by eustatic at 3:33 PM on March 11, 2006


[I've had the font size thing work in live preview but not preview. Weird.]
posted by Dasein at 3:38 PM on March 11, 2006


Tom Fox was also a Marine of 20 years' service to this country in The President's Own. They play at Presidential inaugurations, and also at Arlington National Cemetery funerals and the Tomb of the Unknowns. He may never have been in combat, but he must have had a sense of what he was risking.

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posted by dhartung at 4:04 PM on March 11, 2006


We are here to stop people, including ourselves, from dehumanizing any of God's children, no matter how much they dehumanize their own souls

Well said.
posted by iamck at 4:20 PM on March 11, 2006


A Quaker-written blog re: the CPT hostages: http://freethecaptivesnow.org/main.php

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posted by blueloggy at 8:10 PM on March 11, 2006


Quaker Shmaker. Ask your average man on the (baghdad) street if he knows what a Quaker is. To the people who killed him he was just another Infidel Ameican. (or is that redundant?)
posted by Gungho at 8:12 PM on March 11, 2006


As someone with a small connection to one of the kidnapped CPT men I am just glad that Tom Fox's family and friends now know his fate. Not knowing is worse.
posted by arse_hat at 10:24 PM on March 11, 2006


What I can say about Tom Fox: a DailyKos diary by a member of Tom Fox's Society of Friends Meeting House.
posted by dhartung at 1:44 AM on March 12, 2006


Dasein, et al.:

Yes, there is a difference between premeditated murder and negligent homicide. Our own justice system recognizes that and punishes people differently, accordingly.

However, in Iraq, there are decisions made by people with full knowledge that collateral mass casualties among civilians will occur from their actions. That seems to exceed simple negligence.

Sure, the actions aren't being understaken specifically to kill civilians, but they are being undertaken knowing full well that they will occur.

So perhaps we need a new technical term to refer to it. I propose either "Grossly Negligent Genocide" or perhaps "Premeditated Involuntary Mass Manslaughter". Others, feel free to suggest your own formulations.

In any event, I'm absolutely sure Tom Fox was closer to reflecting God's hope for mankind than was the Pentagon official that approved dropping a bomb on a residence complex.
posted by darkstar at 3:39 AM on March 12, 2006


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posted by LeeJay at 10:36 PM on March 12, 2006


Great thing from Body and Soul: Most of us can barely understand the courage of a soldier, how can we understand the far greater, nearly divine, courage of unarmed warriors?
That hostility, I think, contains so much discomfort at its own weakness. But my lauding of his work contains an equal discomfort in the knowledge that it isn't in me to follow his example. He doesn't let any of us off the hook.
Tom Fox's death jabs at our consciences, and doesn't allow us to fall back on our usual, violent responses, or a self-righteous sense (no matter which side we're on) that we're the forces of peace.
He makes us all uncomfortable.
God bless him. In that, he is still with us.

posted by amberglow at 11:55 PM on March 12, 2006


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posted by Smedleyman at 6:40 AM on March 13, 2006


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