Web Analytics Trust People (once an Englishman in Philly): Off with her Tonge...

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Off with her Tonge...

Just had brought to my attention a quite shocking comment about suicide bombers by LibDem MP Dr Jenny Tonge.

When talking to pro-Palestinian lobbyists she said that she 'might just consider becoming one herself'. Well I don't normally like to weigh in to the Israeli-Palestinian, Jew-Arab arguments but in instances like this I am genuinely outraged. How can any politician even harbour an inkling of an expectation to be taken seriously and respected when they would contemplate killing innocent people?

Now I know that the life of many Palestinians is dreadful. I know, too, that there is a lot which could be done for them that isn't and a lot of oppression which can have no justification at all. Nevertheless, when I first heard about this I wondered if I could ever foresee a situation in which I would want to take the lives of other innocent people to prove a point? If I was so persecuted that I lost all hope, respect for myself and man and was ritually persecuted day-in, day-out would I ever feel anything other than repulsion for any flickering of an idea involving causing death to others?

The only answer I could find was a negative to both questions.

In what instances might I kill someone at all? Well, preferably never. I still think that I could find it in myself to take another's life in some circumstances though - and I hope this doesn't come over as just ghoulish:
-If I felt my life was being seriously threatened then I may not regret a killing of the individual threatening it or the individual endangering it. Here there has been a positive decision on that person's behalf to 'raise the stakes' though.
-In war, for my country, to kill another militant to protect national security. I would only want to do this in very narrow cases though.
-I could also, I hope, live with myself if I was involved in an accident and, with no fault on my behalf at all, someone was so seriously injured as not to survive.

Sitting here tonight I can contemplate no other similar situation. These are fundamentally different from the instance mentioned by Dr Tonge though. Firstly I would greatly and deeply regret any of the deaths. I would wish that none of them had happened. Yet it seems that part of Dr Tonge wouldn't; she could take the decision to kill in advance! For me there could never be any premeditation or planning. Furthermore, in no circumstance could I foresee any justification for killing someone innocent, someone who hadn't chosen to be in that situation any more than choosing to walk down the street in which you live should be a choice to risk being blown up by one of Dr Tonge's comrades.

This all seems very reminiscent of the row involving Cherie Blair a few years ago. My views then were that this was quite clearly an outrage. No circumstances can or should ever permit any harm being caused to innocent people. There is only one course of action open to her, as there was to Cherie Blair. That is an immediate apology...

...but what we are seeing is defiance. A shameful comment followed by a shameful response. The horrific thing is that the defences which will be trotted out as justifications for her comments are as applicable to bombings of the World Trade Center on September 11 2001. That is how absurd her stance is: any attacks aimed at innocent people are the lowest form of cowardice and the worst form of evil. There is and can never be any justification or motive deserving of sympathy.

But, beside the truly disgusting notion that in some circumstances it can ever be understandable to deliberately kill someone innocent, her comments are damaging for any hope of peace. Does she truly think that it is helpful to send out the message that the use by either side of the conflict of violence indiscriminately against innocent people is understandable? Does she think that this way the main problem, which is escalating and retaliatory violence, can actually be remedied? I can scarcely believe that she could be so blinkered in her pursuit of the revolutionary left for the LibDems that she can do anything other than condemn any killing of innocents. It should be for leaders to show those who live lives of despair, hardship and misery the way then can improve their world; that they need not let their desperation boil over into such horrific atrocities. Not to sympathise with or endorse their brutal and evil actions.


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