The Blob

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Because we are not them

I've been thinking a lot about the senseless bombing attacks on innocent tourists in Mombasa and Bali. The cowardly attacks were targeted at young tourists, often of the backpacking variety. These are not high-rolling capitalists, but young people who typically stay in local hotels and who spend money that benefit the local economies of developing countries that badly need it. The victims of these attacks are the youth of the world, people with only the future in front of them. Instead of trying to build bridges, the Muslim extremists of Al Queda only seek to destroy them.

One of the Bali bombing suspects, when questioned by police on what he would say to the families of the victims that he killed said only this, and without remorse:

"Convert to Islam."

That angered me. In the eyes of a Muslim extremist, I am less than human. I stand in the way of their end, which is to create a pan-islamic state that stretches from North Africa through the Asian Pacific island archipeligo. Because I am not them, I am to be exterminated unless I submit to conversion to Islam. And even then, I doubt that I would be embraced.

Because I am not them.

I can neither accept or understand any of this logic. If Islam is a religion of peace and love, it is time for the mass of Islam to show this and to resist the seduction of hatred that is undermining a large part of the world. There are those in Al Queda that would return the world to that of the 17th century, to the time of the origins of Islam. But of course they would still want their weapons of mass destruction. And probably their cell phones. But in their minds, these are trivial matters.

They are not to me. I view this as a threat no less in stature than the rise of Nazism or Stalinist Communism. That my life, freedom and mobility is treatened by someone who have no incentive in understanding me is where I draw the line.

In response, I suggest this: send in the Daleks.

Look at Saturn tonight

Tonight, bundle up and take a walk outside to look at the stars. In the eastern sky, near the constellations of Taurus, Gemini and Orion, you will see a bright yellow object, perhaps the brightest object in that region of the evening sky. It's Saturn, making its closest approach to earth in many years. Best of all, Saturn has tilted on its access to give someone with even a modest telescope a spectacular look at its rings.

Tonight is a great night to look up and explore the universe. And Saturn will put on a show into January. But take a few minutes tonight, for this evening will be the best view of this amazing ringed planet.

Want to find out more? Here's a good story about it on the CNN Web site.