James Foley, an American Hero

bnr-phonecall

James Foley, an American journalist who was kidnapped by ISIS in Syria, has been beheaded.

Mr Foley, who was wearing a mike, made what appeared to be a statement prepared by ISIS before he was murdered. This is followed by a statement from his ISIS murderer. This murderer speaks fluent, well-educated English with what sounds like a mix of a Middle Eastern and British accent. If you can help the FBI identify James Foley’s murderer, call the FBI.

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If you can help identify James Foley’s murderer, call the FBI. Photo Source: LiveLeak

James Foley was doing what the massively over-paid talking heads don’t do: He was practicing journalism, and that at great risk to himself. His kind of reporting is the only information we the people get about what is really happening in dangerous parts of the world. We base our conclusions on what they tell us.

I regard his death as the savage murder of a captive American soldier in an army that has become almost extinct: Journalists who go out into the world and get the story. James Foley, along with his brother and sister journalists who risk their lives to give us the news about important world events, are the life-blood of true democracy. May their tribe increase.

Mr Foley, who had been captured once before in Libya, reported from the Middle East for five years. He was the oldest of five children.

He was also a Catholic, a man of faith. He wrote feelingly about the power of prayer and praying the Rosary during his first captivity in Libya. “I began to pray the Rosary,” he wrote, “I said 10 Hail Marys between each Our Father. It took a long time to count off 100 Hail Marys on my knuckles.”

His colleague, Paul Conroy, discusses James Foley’s work in the last video below, calling it a “vocation.” “If people like James didn’t go out there, people would be in the dark … and he’s paid the ultimate price, as has a number of my colleagues … all I can say is that they deserve all the respect that we can offer … the world should mourn the loss of people like James. He was a good, good person.”

I hope that James Foley’s family never forgets that he died for his country just as surely as any soldier.

James Foley is an American hero.

Message from James Foley’s mother, Diane:

A message from Jim’s mom, Diane Foley: 

We have never been prouder of our son Jim. He gave his life trying to expose the world to the suffering of the Syrian people. 

We implore the ktidnappers to spare the lives of the remaining hostages. Like Jim, they are innocents. They have no control over American government policy in Iraq, Syria or anywhere in the world.

We thank Jim for all the joy he gave us. He was an extraordinary son, brother, journalist and person. Please respect our privacy in the days ahead as we mourn and cherish Jim.

This video describes what sounds like a bartering of abductees among various Islamic groups. It implies that Mr Foley, who was taken prisoner outside of an internet cafe, was not originally kidnapped by ISIS, but was “given” to them at a later date. I do not know if this accurate, but it may be.

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James Foley discusses his work and the dangers to free lance journalists.

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I wish I knew more about what he’s discussing here.

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James Foley discusses being captured in Libya.

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James Foley’s colleague discusses his death and work.

 

 

 

From Xyklon B to Machetes: Our Lady in the Age of Genocide

I wrote this a couple of years ago. Since I was too busy to write anything yesterday, I’ve decided to post it again today. It’s in serious need of updating in light  of recent events, (which I may do on Monday) but I think it’s still worth a look, as it is. 

Genocide was the 20th Century’s iconic crime. It was, for much of the world, a 100-year bloodbath.

Murderous governments used killers armed with everything from Xyklon B to machetes to wage war against civilians with the aim of wiping entire tribes and populations of people from the earth. It began with the Armenian Genocide and kept on rolling through to the Sudan. Other eras were guilty of genocidal war. But when it came to efficiency and numbers, nobody did it better than the genocidal warriors of the 20th Century.

Our hope, as we left the old century behind, was that we had somehow contrived to leave these impulses for organized murder behind us. We thought they belonged in the forgotten junk drawer of that era, beside the vacuum tubes and eight track tapes. Unfortunately, genocide trailed us into the 21st Century and is already making a real name for itself here.

Not so long ago, within living memory, we stood beside the mass graves and crematoriums of the Third Reich and vowed “never again.” But, as my grandmother used to tell me, “Never say never.”

Genocide led us on a blood-drenched march through the last half of the 20th Century. In 50 short years of history, it drug us from the Nazi death camps to the Killing Fields of Cambodia, through the slaughter in Rwanda, and on to the Sudan.
 Today, it is the Christians who are being targeted for extermination.

Each day brings a new and horrific story of Christians murdered because they are Christians in many places around globe, but particularly the Middle East and parts of Africa. Deacon Greg Kandra, over at The Deacon’s Bench, posted Monday on the plight of Christians in Syria.

In his post, Can Syria’s Christians Survive? Deacon Greg quotes a Wall Street Journal article that says in part:

“… Syria’s Christian communities are being severely tested by the uprising that has racked the country for more than a year. They think back to 636, when the Christian Byzantine emperor Heraclius saw his army defeated by Muslim forces south of present-day Damascus. “Peace be with you Syria. What a beautiful land you will be for our enemies,” he lamented before fleeing north to Antioch. In the 8th century, a famed Damascus church was razed to make way for the Umayyad Mosque—today one of Islam’s holiest sites.

Not a few Christians in modern-day Syria worry that the current crisis could end the same way for them if Bashar al-Assad and his regime are defeated by the rebel insurgency … ” Read more here:  Can Syria’s Christians Survive?

This is especially poignant today, on the Feast of the Assumption, since this feast honors Mary, Our Lord’s mother. Our Lady spent her last years in what is modern day Turkey. Her last home is believed to have been high on a hillside not far from the city of Ephesus.

When I visited this site last year, I was impressed by the long lines of believers who had traveled from all over the world to stand in the cool shade of this hillside. It was equally striking to see Muslims and Christians in line together, waiting their turn to enter the tiny rooms of the reconstructed ruin of Our Lady’s home.

You can touch the stones that formed the lower portion of her original house, hear the breeze riffling through the trees, and drink from a spring that may have supplied her water. It’s easy to imagine how peaceful this home would have been for her, especially after visiting the stone metropolis of Ephesus not far away. Her empty grave must lie a short distance from this place. She was assumed into heaven from here.

I wanted to attend mass at this spot, but we got there too late in the day. What I did instead was break the “no entry” rule posted beside the ropes surrounding the little outdoor chapel and take a seat in one of the chairs. I wanted to be alone, to feel the Presence in that place and to pray. The guard eyed me quietly and then respectfully backed away, his rifle hanging limp at his side.

When I had told one of my Muslim companions that I wanted to be alone to pray, he said, “Pray for me too,” and I did.

It was easy here, in this quiet bubble of grace next to the long lines of pilgrims chattering in their many languages, to believe that we could put it all aside. We could give up the things that divide us and remember the things that make us one.

We are all born of woman. We will all die. We are children of the same One God Who loves us the way any parent loves his children.

That should be enough. It should be more than enough to make us think long and hard about this nasty habit we have of killing one another.

What are we going to say when we stand before God and try to explain ourselves?

It was unfathomable to me, sitting in that holy place, that there are people so demented and lost that they honestly believe that God will reward them for the wanton killing of His children. But I know that such people exist. I’ve witnessed first-hand the carnage that terrorists cause.

If there is one message in this Feast of the Assumption, it’s that we not only have One Father; we have One Mother, as well.

I saw Muslims and Christians, standing in line together to honor her. A hardened Turkish guard respectfully backed away to let me pray my Christian prayers. From The Deacon’s Bench, to the bleached stones of Ephesus and on uphill to the riffling breezes of her last home, Our Lady does what mothers always do.

She makes us family.

Mary truly is the Mother of God. Jesus gave her to humanity when He told the Apostle John, “This is your mother.” She is mother to us all, Muslim and Christian alike.

I think her love is the bridge that will one day bring us together.

Pope Francis and the Miracle of Peace

The Roman Catholic Bishops of the Middle East and East Africa said that the pope’s efforts for peace are changing the dialogue in their countries. They call it a “miracle.”

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Syrian Rebels Attack Christian Village in Syria

Christians in Syria have enjoyed relative tolerance under the Assad regime. My questions earlier were Who are the rebels and Why is our government willing to go to war to help them win? Do we really want them to win?

I still don’t know the answers to those questions.

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Don’t Stop Praying, But We May Be Out of the War-Making Woods

Way out

I don’t think there are any lambs in this particular gathering, but it appears as if the lions may decide to, if not lie down together, at least make war another day.

Presidents Putin of Russia, Rouhani of Iran and Assad of Syria have been talking about a proposal to remove chemical weapons from Syria to Russia for several days now. I first read about this before the weekend, but didn’t write about it because the sources were publications inside Russia that I didn’t know anything about.

Haaretz, an Israeli news outlet, has also been running stories about it. The proposal became quasi official yesterday and today the New York Times wrote that President Obama has “tentatively embraced” the idea.

I expect that the war-promoting members of the press (which is a substantial portion of the press) will react to this with an analysis that President Obama has been “weak” and went to Congress “looking for a way out,” etc. I want to say, in anticipation of that, that if this compromise works, a good portion of the reason why is that this president made the decision to involve the American people, through their representatives, in this debate.

I’ve been critical of this attempt to take this country into another unnecessary war from the outset. I expect that I am going to be equally critical of the inevitable future attempts to do the same thing. Our press has become a powerful lobby for armed intervention all over the globe. There is one cable news network in particular that never stops agitating for war. The place where they want this country to use armed force changes, but the demand that we do it is almost constant.

I am not a pacifist. I believe in self-defense.

I am most definitely a patriot. From the soles of my feet to the hair of my head, I am an American.

I believe without equivocation that if we do not take an honest and critical look at this situation, we are dooming ourselves. I’ll write more about this, but we are spending ourselves into bankruptcy to finance a war machine that is out of touch with reality. Then, we are being sold on wars and “military actions” one right after the other to use it and justify it.

War has become our major industry.

This cannot go on if we are to survive. We need an economy that is based on manufacturing the goods and services of the people of this country, not an economy that is based on manufacturing weapons.

As I said in the title of this post, Don’t stop Praying.

We are not out of the woods on this yet.

And the peacemakers in this situation are hardly peaceable people.

But it looks as if there is a real possibility that we will be able to avoid firing Tomahawk missiles at the people of Syria. There may even be a possibility that we can let them work out their own civil war without shedding American blood.

We need to continue praying for peace, and for our Christian brothers and sisters who are so very vulnerable in this war. I’ve read that President Assad has treated the Christian minority in Syria with tolerance and that the rebels have targeted Christian villages for attacks and attempts at forced conversions to Islam. Again, this information has come largely from the Russian press and the Russians have a stake in this war, so I’ve been slow to write about it.

But, the Christians in Syria who have contacted me have said much the same thing.

I am grateful to the Holy Father for his powerful leadership in this matter. I am also grateful to President Obama for making the decision to allow Congress to vote on it.

I hope that is a precedent-setting move that future presidents will take seriously.

Don’t stop praying. It appears to be working.

Vigil for Peace: Pope Francis’ Homily

Pope Francis called the world to negotiation, not war, yesterday. He also called all Christians to follow the Gospel teaching of reconciliation.

Thousands of people responded by standing reverently for four hours throughout the lengthy Vigil for Peace.

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EWTN Nightly News on the War in Syria

I just learned about this new effort from EWTN.

It’s an impressive beginning that I will watch as often as I can. Compared to the unprofessional approach the most of the cable news networks take, EWTN’s Nightly News is a breath of fresh air.

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Nine Out of Ten Americans Back Bold New Strategy for Syria

The link for this article came from reader Ken. I think The Onion may very well have found a solution for Syria, as well as many other problems this country faces.

Enjoy.

Poll: Majority Of Americans Approve Of Sending Congress To Syria

 Sep 5, 2013

A majority of U.S. citizens believe congressional leaders in both the House and Senate must be sent to war-torn Syria immediately.

WASHINGTON—As President Obama continues to push for a plan of limited military intervention in Syria, a new poll of Americans has found that though the nation remains wary over the prospect of becoming involved in another Middle Eastern war, the vast majority of U.S. citizens strongly approve of sending Congress to Syria.

The New York Times/CBS News poll showed that though just 1 in 4 Americans believe that the United States has a responsibility to intervene in the Syrian conflict, more than 90 percent of the public is convinced that putting all 535 representatives of the United States Congress on the ground in Syria—including Senate pro tempore Patrick Leahy, House Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and, in fact, all current members of the House and Senate—is the best course of action at this time. (Read more here.)

Pray and Fast for Peace: What Would Peace Look Like?

The Holy Father Pope Francis has called on all Catholics to pray and fast for peace tomorrow.

What exactly, other than “peace,” are we praying for?

The video below gives a few ideas, and I think they are good ones. What if the president used his considerable powers to convince other leaders around the world, beginning with our great ally Great Britain, and moving onward through the list of nations, including Russia to come together to demand a negotiated peace in Syria?

I don’t see, how, if everyone got together, that they could resist.

That would save lives, and it would prevent this nation of ours from enmeshing itself further in the cycle of violence that is tearing the Middle East apart. I am mindful of what President Dwight Eisenhower said:

Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties.

America has reached the point where we seem to react to every problem around the globe with an almost automatic call to arms. There are teens in this country today who have never lived in a peacetime nation. We can not continue to try to solve every problem by firing off missiles.

The Holy Father is absolutely right: We should give negotiation an all-out effort.

War should be the last option we consider when faced with a crisis, not the first.

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The Marine Times Answers My Questions, and They Didn’t Even Know I was Asking

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The  Marine Times answered a couple of the questions I have about this rush to war in Syria, and they didn’t even know I was asking.

Frank Weathers, a former Marine who served in the Middle East, passed the article US considers training Syria rebels along, and the minute I read it, I thought So that’s why we’re being pushed to war in Syria.

It turns out that the president is

“… considering a plan to use US military trainers to help increase the capabilities of the Syrian rebels, in a move that would greatly expand the current CIA training being done quietly in Jordan.”

That one sentence answers just about all the questions I raised in this morning’s post. I asked what we would accomplish by hitting the people of Syria with Tomahawk missiles, given the paucity of legitimate military targets in the country.

While I was typing and musing, I wondered aloud, Is the plan to devastate the infrastructure so that the government crumbles and the rebels win this civil war?

Then, this afternoon, I had time to read the article Frank had found and it was one of those Spoing! moments when the pieces fall into place.

Of course the plan is to destroy the infrastructure of Syria so that the government falls and the rebels win. That is the only military objective for firing Tomahawk missiles that makes any sense. All this stuff and nonsense about “red lines” and “chemical weapons” has always had a How dumb do they think we are? quality to it. 

After all, chemical weapons have been used on civilian populations a number of times in past years and there were no “red lines” and no talk about bombing people for humanitarian purposes. That never added up. 

Our government knows the goodness in the American people. They know that we can be motivated, even against our own self interest, by calls to save innocent people from terrible suffering. They know that we are ignorant about our military, how much it costs us in dollars and lost growth to our economy and our nation. They know that we are so disconnected from these realities that they can feed us any sort of gobbledy-goop imaginable about how bombing people “helps” them, and we will believe it. 

I don’t think there is any other people on this planet who are willing to sacrifice so much to help others as the American people. Our government knows this and it is using it to try to push us into intervening in the civil war in Syria to help the rebels win.

I have a small question. Who are these rebels?

Do we really want them to win?

Why do we want them to win?  

And don’t give me any more lies about humanitarian needs. Tell me the truth. 

That would be refreshing, wouldn’t it, if our government tried telling us the truth? 


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