People like Kayla Mueller give me hope for the future of humanity. She was the humanitarian aid worker captured by the Islamic State who died one way or another on 6 February. Even if I didn’t agree with Mueller’s politics (although I do), I greatly respect people who care about the state of the world and go out and do something about it. Some call such people naive, I call them the best of who we are. But there are a few things about her death that I think ought to be discussed.
How Mueller Died
There is the question of how Mueller died. The Islamic State has claimed that she died as a result of a Jordanian airstrike on a building where the young aid worker was being held. The United States has been very aggressive in dismissing this claim. It noted that similar claims are typical of terrorist groups. But the truth is that the government doesn’t actually know. Personally, I don’t see what the Islamic State would get out of lying about this. The group has no problem with murdering people on camera — including burning a man alive. What purpose would they have in trying to hide their savagery?
In the end, it doesn’t matter. The Islamic State abducted her — taking someone doing humanitarian work and thrusting her into the middle of a war. So they are ultimately responsible for her death. And if she was killed due to an airstrike, it was one that was directly the result of their murder of Muath al-Kasasbeh. So I really don’t see why the United States government feels the need to counter the claim that Mueller was not killed directly by the Islamic State. And given what we know the Islamic State capable of, it’s somewhat comforting that Mueller was killed quickly.
Slander Back Home
Aside from the unjust death of this idealistic young woman, back here at home, some conservatives are attacking her. For example, Debbie Schlussel wrote on her website, Kayla Mueller: Dead ISIS Hostage Was Jew-Hating, Anti-Israel Bitch. Of course, Schlussel actually has no facts to back this up. It is just that for many on the right, disagreeing with Israeli policy or helping the Palestinian people means you are a Jew hater. Talking Points Memo provided a couple of other examples of conservatives who think it is great when any liberal dies.
I don’t much get it. Certainly, I wasn’t at all sad when Andrew Breitbart died. But that was largely due to the fact that everything Breitbart did was bad for society. Even if Schlussel and other vile commentators don’t like one part of Mueller’s work, that doesn’t change all the other good work that she did. What these right wing loons really hate is that people are trying to make the world a better place. So they look for anything that people like Mueller might do for something they can complain about. Mueller worked to help African refugees in Israel. It doesn’t sound like she hated Israel or Jews. But conservatives don’t believe in helping other people — especially those people. So they must applaud Mueller’s death. It isn’t enough that she was wrongly killed at a young age after living the kind of life we should all strive for. They need to turn her into an antisemitic monster based upon nothing but a lack of full-throated support for Israel and everything that it does. It’s the same old thing: protesting Israel is protesting “the Jews.” This kind of thing is ironic: racism masquerading as anti-racism.
The death of Kayla Mueller is a tragedy. And it is made all the worse by the conservative hit job on her character. A hit job by a bunch of pundits who do nothing but sit in their well appointed offices with nothing to fear except a car crash while being chauffeured in a Lincoln Town Car. Kayla Mueller worked to make the world a better place. And the world is diminished because of her absence. The same will not be true when Debbie Schlussel and her ilk leave this world. Kayla Mueller was the best of who we are.