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Being Sad Isn't Enough

Mark Steyn

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So "Allahu Akbar!", huh?

Photographed from above, the body bags look empty. They seem to lie flat on the ground, and it's only when you peer closer that you realize that that's because the bodies in them are too small to fill the length of the bags. They're children. Row upon row of dead children, more than a hundred of them, 150, more, many of them shot in the back as they tried to flee.

Russian bodies

Flee from whom? Let's take three representative responses: "Guerillas", said The New York Times. "Chechen separatists", ventured the BBC, eventually settling for "hostage-takers". "Insurgents", said The Guardian's Isabel Hilton, hyper-rational to a fault: "Today's hostage-taking," she explained, "is more savage, born of the spread of asymmetrical warfare that pits small, weak and irregular forces against powerful military machines. No insurgent lives long if he fights such overwhelming force directly . . . If insurgent bullets cannot penetrate military armour, it makes little sense to shoot in that direction. Soft targets -- the unprotected, the innocent, the uninvolved -- become targets because they are available."

And then there was Adam Nicolson in London's Daily Telegraph, who filed one of those ornately anguished columns full of elevated, overwritten allusions -- each child was "a Pieta, the archetype of pity. Each is a Cordelia carried on at the end of Act V" -- and yet in a thousand words he's too busy honing his limpid imagery to confront the fact that this foul deed had perpetrators, never mind the identity of those perpetrators.

Read the entire article on Jewish World Review website.

Posted: 9/9/04



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