World Is Diminished by the Death of Kayla Mueller

Kayla MuellerPeople 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.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

2 thoughts on “World Is Diminished by the Death of Kayla Mueller

  1. Jesus, such evil today. Usually I like knowing what conservatives are saying and doing — but this, and the hate rally at the Muslim Capitol Day . . . Jesus wept.

    At one point Orwell mentioned, vis-a-vis fascist lies in the Spanish Civil War, that you do not truly injure humanity by shooting at it. Everyone dies. You do more damage by ruining the belief people have in each other, the possibility for those who live on to make the world a better place.

    I fully expect Republicans and their promoters to support all kind of noxious policies which harm and kill people today. I like to believe some of the policies can be reversed in the future.

    This stuff is just poison to the human soul. As foul as ISIL is, the people who wrote those slanderous posts about Mueller, and the elected officials who stoke anti-Muslim racism here (or in Europe), are fouler.

    The core concept is, who has the power to commit evil. Who has the most power to commit evil. Representative White presents herself (and surely thinks of herself) as standing up to a scary, dangerous force of evil. For one thing, she’s not (and inciting anti-Muslim racism surely empowers terrorists); for another, she’s simply doing as her campaign contributors insist. Following orders, not being any kind of badass. People like that have all the courage of rats in a maze motivated to find cheese; a bad analogy, as rats aren’t as cowardly.

    Mueller was actively trying to help people harmed by evil, and died for it. As to who was responsible, take a number. ISIL wouldn’t exist if we hadn’t invaded Iraq. As you’ve written, who’s “wrong” in a geopolitical conflict depends on how far back one looks.

    “Terrorists” (the world strictly applies to Muslim violence now, as Greenwald and many others have noted) have scant power. Compared to us, virtually none. We have the power to kill anyone anywhere and often do, collateral damage be damned. One optimistic individual who chooses to help suffering people and publicly states she doesn’t like our foreign policy gives almost zero help to “terrorists.” Heartless idiots who decry the best attempts at establishing human comity in tough times give a ton of help to those in positions of tremendous power to inflict more harm.

    Those posters savaging Mueller and the politicians stoking racism would never behead anyone. No; they’re far too civilized. They merely incite murder, they don’t commit it. Far be it from them to dirty their hands. (They “support our troops” whom they command to commit murder, then belittle the ones irreparably psychologically scarred by the experience.)

    I’ve long thought you have to be mad to kill anyone. Whether temporary madness, as happens in stressful situations, or programmed madness, as is systematically trained into battle recruits on any side. (I recently read that huge numbers of American combat soldiers in WWII manufactured firing jams in their weapons and such, to avoid having to shoot directly at a person.)

    The posters savaging Mueller and the anti-Muslim racist politicians are mad. God only knows how they became that way. I suppose in some sense they deserve our pity. But they are certifiably mad, no less than the dragons they rail against.

    • I think they are that way because is sells. There is always a big audience for the worst instincts of tribalism. Despite all the words over the years that the war on terrorism is not a war on Islam, it is now clear that it is very much a war on Islam — or at least a war on Islamic terrorism. Republicans are big on complaining that Obama doesn’t use particular words and phrases like “Islamic terrorism.” But the truth is that conservatives (and many others) have a very hard time calling anything terrorism unless it is related to Islam. The 2011 Norway attacks are still not usually referred to as terrorism, and if they aren’t, I don’t know what is. The same thing goes for the 2014 Las Vegas shootings. Part of it is just that in America we can’t seem to call right-wing political terrorist attacks terrorism. But mostly, it is just that white people aren’t terrorists. They have to be Muslims.

      I fully believe that the Christian fundamentalists who spew out this kind of garbage are the same as the Islamic State leadership. They were just born in different places. But they think the same way. And if what happened in Iraq happened in Texas, these Christians would be stoning heretics — if not burning them alive.

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