Saturday, February 07, 2004

Iraq's intellectuals murdered 

From the NYT:

These white-collar killings, American and Iraqi officials say, are separate from — and in some ways more insidious than — the settling of scores with former Baath Party officials, or the singling-out of police officers and others thought to be collaborating with the occupation. Hundreds of them have been attacked as well in an effort to sow insecurity and chaos.

But by silencing urban professionals, said Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, a spokesman for the occupation forces, the guerrillas are waging war on Iraq's fledgling institutions and progress itself. The dead include doctors, lawyers and judges.
The people being killed represent the foundation of Iraqi civil society. Whoever is killing them is against progress and against modernity. I'm reminded of a passage from Ian Buruma's "The Origins of Occidentalism:"

Calculation -- the accounting of money, interests, scientific evidence, and so on -- is regarded as soulless. Authenticity lies in poetry, intuition, and blind faith. The Occidentalist view of the West is of a bourgeois society, addicted to creature comforts, animal lusts, self-interest, and security. It is by definition a society of cowards, who prize life above death. As a Taliban fighter once put it during the war in Afghanistan, the Americans would never win, because they love Pepsi-Cola, whereas the holy warriors love death.
The people who are trying to kill Iraq's future fear it. There has been very little mention of an Islamic fundamentalist element within the Iraqi resistance. But the growing number of attacks on secular intellectuals makes one wonder if fundamentalists are playing a part after all.
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