Last week the body of Tom Fox was recovered in a Baghdad trash heap. After holding him prisoner for more than three months, his captors bound his wrists, tortured him, and shot him in the head several times.
Tom Fox was a peacemaker sent to Iraq by Christian Peacemaker Teams, founded in 1986 by members of the Mennonite church and other Christian anti-war activists. The homepage of Christian Peacemaker Teams includes a link to “Adopt a Detainee in Iraq”, along with an “Iraq Body Count” link. You can learn more about the organization on their website at: http://www.cpt.org/index.html
By all accounts Tom Fox was a truly righteous and gentle man. The day before he was abducted he wrote, “As I survey the landscape here in Iraq, dehumanization seems to be the operative means of relating to each other. U.S. forces in their quest to hunt down and kill “terrorists” are, as a result of this dehumanizing word, not only killing “terrorists,” but also killing innocent Iraqis: men, women and children in the various towns and villages.”
Fox went on, writing: “It seems as if the first step down the road to violence is taken when I dehumanize a person. That violence might stay within my thoughts or find its way into the outer world and become expressed verbally, psychologically, structurally or physically. As soon as I rob a fellow human being of his or her humanity by sticking a dehumanizing label on them, I begin the process that can have, as an end result, torture, injury and death.”
In my hometown of Winona, Minnesota there is a group of people who periodically stand on Broadway Street and hold up signs against the War in Iraq. Tom Fox would fit in well with that crowd. He reminds me of a lot of well-meaning people who protest against all war, determined to convince others that the United States is the enemy, rather than the ally of peace. Radical Muslims, wherever they roam, would find Tom Fox an enthusiastic friend. He would not call them “terrorists”, but refer to them as people who have suffered injustice. If anyone on this earth loved Iraqi’s more than Tom Fox, it would surprise me. Tom Fox was the last person who would “rob a fellow human being of his or her humanity by sticking a dehumanizing label on them.”
I think that the anti-war protestors here in Winona believe that if we just reasoned with those who have been treated unjustly (terrorists), they would understand us and dialogue with us toward creating a peaceful world. I have always suspected that if our local anti-war protestors actually met these Islamic terrorists face to face the terrorists wouldn’t waste five minutes before they would cut their heads off.
Tom Fox was true to his word and put his life at risk. I doubt he ever dehumanized anyone, especially his captors. Tom had four months to convince them of his love for them, which was undoubtedly genuine. They rewarded him by torturing him and shooting him in the head. Knowing Tom he was probably praying for them when the bullets penetrated his brain.