Tuesday, February 10, 2015

When Wrong is Right

When I was growing up, my father always had the same response to news about any murderer of innocent people: "Take him out and shoot him."

In my idealistic youth, I would be horrified that my kind, thoughtful, funny father could make such a cold-blooded statement. "Dad!" I would protest in shocked outrage. "That's just wrong!"

Time is a thorough, patient, and effective teacher. I have learned my lessons well watching world events over the decades. In the wake of the fourth US hostage, Kayla Mueller, being murdered at the hands of Islamic terrorists, I think "You were right, Dad. We should just take them out and shoot them."

A conversation we had during the Iranian hostage crisis gives me a clue how Dad might deal with ISIS. I was visiting my parents in New York; it was summer 1980. The hostage crisis had dragged on since November 1979. Dad and I were watching television, and a review of the hostage crisis showed images of our US Embassy employees when they were first seized. The American captives were bound and blindfolded; their Iranian captors were celebrating as they paraded their human prizes to cheering crowds. I had never seen my father seething with such controlled anger. Curiosity got the better of me, and I asked, "What would you do if you were in charge, Dad?"

He turned from the TV and looked at me, his eyes blazing blue fire. He pointed sharply at the screen, "I would have told them, 'You've got 24 hours to let them go. Or we're coming in to get them.'" He stopped speaking and turned back to the program, but an unspoken "Take them out and shoot them" directed at the Iranian captors hung in the air. For the first time, I began to realize that perhaps such a course of action was not "just wrong," as I had always maintained.

Whenever I see footage or photos of the current Islamic terrorist atrocities being inflicted upon innocent and helpless people in the Middle East today, "Take them out and shoot them" now makes perfect sense to me. I wish I could tell Dad.