Local Vocal: There is nothing funny about the consequences of ignoring Iran

by Derrick P. Nantz

In the Nov. 7, 2007 YES! Weekly, in the column “What’s so funny ’bout fear and hate?” Daniel Bayer comments on the “climate of fear and paranoia” surrounding the direction in which the Iranian government is moving. Bayer urges readers to brush aside the “fear and terror… frantic finger pointing and Orwellian overreaction” our government and media is instigating. According to Bayer, we have nothing to worry about because the IAEA has recently reported (Sept. 7, 2007) that Iran is years away from building an atomic weapon and that “they could find no evidence that Iran was even intending on doing so in the first place.” Accepting such astounding naïvete in regard to Iran and Islamic fascism is a danger far worse than any of Bush’s follies, on which Bayer comments.

President Bush is right that terrorism is the new major threat to security and liberty in our age, on par with German Nazism. Like these historical examples, Middle Eastern terrorist groups pose a danger not only to their own people, but to those abroad as well. They repeatedly announce that their goal is the expansion and violent imposition of Islam on those outside their borders. Islam, in fact, means “submission to God” in Arabic.

Fundamentalist Islamists who are now in control of a number of Middle Eastern governments adhere to a pure form of Islam which interprets Islamic scripture literally. The following are a few passages from which these Islamic ideologues gain inspiration: “Fight those who do not believe in Allah” (Surat At-Taubah 9:29) and “I will instill terror into the hearts of the unbelievers, Smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger tips of them.” (Quran 8:12)

Where US citizens and politicians should be most concerned is in how the radicalization of Islam has turned violent in the last half century. Watch the progression: In the 1950s and 1960s Islamic terrorism was directed only at Israel. In 1972, terrorists began targeting Israelis abroad, murdering a number of innocent Israeli athletes at the Olympic Games in Munich. In 1979, the US Embassy in Tehran was invaded and 52 hostages were held and subjected to mild torture for more than a year. In 1983, the US Marine barracks in Beirut were blown up, killing 241 US soldiers in their sleep. In 1988, Pan Am flight 103 was bombed, killing 270 people, mostly Westerners. In 1993, the first major terrorist attack occurred on American soil with the bombing of the World Trade Center, killing six and injuring many more. In 1998, US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed, resulting in more than 200 dead and 4,000 injured. In 2001, we all witnessed the complete destruction of the World Trade Center killing more than 3,000 Americans, and subsequently we have seen similar bombings in London, Spain and Bali that have killed hundreds. All of these attacks and countless more were perpetrated by fundamentalist Islamists hell-bent on destroying heretics and blasphemers.

It may be true that IAEA reported that Iran is years away from building a nuclear weapon and that Bayer thinks Iran has no intentions of going nuclear. But consider just two recent statements by Iranian President Ahmadinejad: “Anybody who recognizes Israel will burn in the fire of the Islamic nation’s fury.” And, “In the nuclear case we are ready to take the final step and I hope that by the end of the year we will be able to hold the great celebration of Iran’s nuclear right,” he said. Putting these two statements together does not paint a peaceful picture.

Regarding the existence of nuclear technology, we cannot afford to be wrong. If the Iranian president’s nuclear aspirations are fulfilled, and he were to let one terrorist get ahold of one nuclear weapon to detonate in New York City in order to fulfill his wish of seeing us “burn in the fire of the Islamic nation’s fury,” millions would die.

Hate is necessary toward those who wish to destroy you; fear is a natural response when one realizes that one’s life is in danger. Bayer is right that there is nothing funny about hate and fear, but this is precisely why we should not follow Bayer’s prescribed course of pacificism and naïvete in regard to dangerous nations like Iran. Iranian threats and belligerence must be met with stern condemnation, with the reassertion of the correctness of the principles of political freedom on which the US stands, and, if necessary, with crushing force.

Derrick Nantz holds an MA in philosophy and is currently a graduate student at Wake Forest University.