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We did not bring on terrorism.

Byline: GUEST VIEWPOINT By Bill Lioio For The Register-Guard

`Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.'

- Voltaire

My quote from Voltaire is the short version of the reason we must fight the terrorist fanatics who happily kill anyone, anywhere, of any religion, as long as such killing brings about the new order that they want to impose on the world. It's foolish to believe that we can negotiate with people who say to us, "Convert and submit to our beliefs, or die."

Many in the democracies don't understand this murderous behavior and ask why they hate us. The reasons can not be affected by aid programs or changes in foreign policy.

These people are zealous believers in a distorted and dark faith that says their ideology is the will of God, and that their duty is to spread it by force to the unwilling. If others are unwilling to accept this faith, those others are evil and can be slaughtered with the approval of God. They require us to accept theocracy, submission and conformity. They hate us for our democracy, liberty and diversity.

They could try to change what they don't like through political action, civil disobedience and other nonviolent methods. But they know that they can't persuade everyone to follow their path to paradise, so they choose jihad.

We did not create these people. They are the natural result of what they have chosen to believe, or have been made to believe.

Voltaire also said, `The best is the enemy of the good." It's a mistake if we let our idealistic hopes for the best possible society defeat a realistic acceptance of what is good in the society we have. The progress of humanity has not been achieved by absolute good defeating absolute evil, but by better triumphing over worse. Civilizations should not have to achieve moral perfection to justify self-defense.

What makes our imperfect democracies better than the societies our enemies hope to create is that ours recognize the notion that people's rights are inherent, endowed by either God or nature. Rights are not gifts to be handed out by some supreme authority to the politically or religiously correct. We recognize that life is a constant stream of decisions, many of which require moral choices. The democracies try to leave most of those decisions to individuals. The fanatics say you must accept our faith or ideology, and we will provide you with the correct answers.

We rightly agonize over what is the right level of response to each new atrocity, and ask ourselves how far we should go in trying to extract information from the killers we capture. They're not having those debates on the other side. If Osama bin Laden says it's one's religious duty to kill Americans wherever and whenever you can, his followers do it. No further thought is required.

The extremism represented by these religious fanatics is not and has not been exclusive to Islam. Millions of Muslims live in peace with their non-Muslim neighbors and reject the homicidal perversion of their faith. The pursuit of a political or religious utopia has been the cause of much of the horror, destruction and misery that has been seen in the modern world. It has given us ethnic cleansing, killing fields, gulags, cultural revolutions, death camps, purges, genocide and now jihad.

The enemy of all these true believers is reason. If we let them win, we will be welcoming back the Dark Ages.

Bill Lioio is a private investigator and a University of Oregon graduate. He has lived in Lane County since 1971.
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Title Annotation:Columns
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Column
Date:Jul 25, 2005
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