Saturday, April 15, 2006

During World War II, an amazing example of faith and one’s love for his fellow man occurred. On Feb. 3, 1943, at 1 a.m., the U.S. troop transport Dorchester, torpedoed by a German U-boat in the icy waters of the North Atlantic, quickly began sinking. With more than 900 crew and soldiers onboard, chaos erupted. There were not enough life vests for everyone. Four chaplains onboard — two Protestants, a Roman Catholic priest and a Jewish rabbi — unhesitatingly surrendered their life vests to others. As Dorchester’s bow rose up before making her final plunge beneath the sea, survivors observed the four, arm in arm, praying to the one God each loved and served. The chaplains were among 675 men who lost their lives that morning.

As we fight the war on terrorism, it is of note to compare the courageous and loving acts of the four Dorchester chaplains to the acts of the Islamofascist imams who spew hatred in sermons to their followers. Such religious extremists justify acts of violence in furthering Islam, such acts always to be undertaken by followers but not by them, even encouraging believers to sacrifice their lives as suicide bombers.

French filmmaker Pierre Rehov has done several documentaries on the intifada. His most recent film is on suicide bombers, based on interviews with their families. What he feels is very telling about the bombers is that all were observed smiling just before blowing themselves up. He attributes this to a “culture of hatred in which the uneducated are brainwashed to a level where their only solution in life becomes to kill themselves and kill others in the name of a God whose word, as transmitted by other men, has become their only certitude.”

He suggests the culture of Islam breeds frustration among its young people, creating a system of values completely backward to ours as their interpretation of Islam worships death much more than life, promoting death as a door to the afterlife.

It is clear such a sense of frustration permeating Islamic culture is one imam extremists easily exploit as they are the men transmitting the word of God to which Mr. Rehov alludes, giving the interpretation that any act of violence against nonbelievers is condoned by Allah.

But this raises an interesting point. In other religions, spiritual leaders recognize they must practice what they preach, i.e., they must observe and, by personal example, lead the same kind of life they encourage their flock to lead, or else be held accountable by their followers for failing to do so. However, this point seems lost on these extremist imams and their followers. In an attitude more reflective of “do as I say and not as I do,” not a single imam extremist has yet to strap on a suicide belt to sacrifice his own life in furtherance of the cause of Islam. Nor is there any report of an imam’s offspring doing so. While relentlessly preaching selfless acts of suicide by their fold, these same imams selfishly fail to practice what they preach — an absence of accountability their followers have failed yet to grasp and question.

It is clear were an imam extremist onboard Dorchester 63 years ago, his actions would have been most telling as to the disparity between his religious beliefs and those shared among the other four religious leaders present. For as the others selflessly gave their life vests to others, the imam would have selfishly clung to his, refusing to sacrifice his life to save another.

James G. Zumwalt, a Marine veteran of the Persian Gulf and Vietnam wars, is a contributor to The Washington Times.

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