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    I’m unable to get as foulmouthed here as I can be in intimate conversation because I post under my own name. Good thing Rosemary Esmay doesn’t have the same constraints. I heartily concur.

    May I also say that if just one more person talks uncritically about how Muslims of whatever stripe are driven to film themselves hacking the heads off American civilians, blow up Israeli cafés with nail-filled bombs, or hang bodies from bridges by their “sense of honor,” I will not be responsible for my behavior? Certainly, given the cooperation of Western governments with morally cloudy regimes in the Middle East and elsewhere, the degree to which we’re reaping what we’ve sown is a legitimate topic for debate and self-reflection. But I’m sorry, honor is an English word being used among Westerners; it loses all meaning if you define it as something others do to you but you don’t have to do back. That simply is not what it means.

    And I’m doubly revolted as someone who lives in Japan. It’s not that the Japanese are innocent of atrocities against civilians, of course. But I’m reminded in these cases of the story of the 47 ronin. The story is world-famous, but people often forget that the man the 47 samurai killed had not actually killed their lord. They held Kira responsible for Lord Asano’s death because his merciless goading provoked Asano to commit the breach of protocol that got him executed, but Kira wasn’t technically a murderer. They stormed his house and offered him the chance to commit seppuku to preserve his honor; he froze, and they beheaded him. After laying Kira’s head on Asano’s grave, they went to Sengaku Temple and waited for the inevitable: an order from the shogun to commit seppuku themselves. Bear in mind that seppuku involves slicing your own intestines open and is about as painful a way to die by dagger as can be imagined. In other words, the 47 ronin avenged their lord’s honor with a willingness to die more painfully than the man they killed.

    No one is ever going to convince me that civilians are properly thought of as equal to combatants, but to the extent that I can even imagine such a thing, I can only do so under such circumstances: If those who attacked the unarmed pledged to sacrifice themselves in a fashion that involved suffering equal to their victims’, and then did it. That’s why I think the dead-in-a-flash suicide bombers in Israel look like milquetoasts, and those who off civilians and just move on to the next task shouldn’t be mentioned in the same sentence as the word honor.

    (Of course, I didn’t realize until after posting this that that was Dean’s post on Rosemary’s site. Whoops.)

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