Thomas Wictor

Words are worse than killing

Words are worse than killing

Today I had an utterly fruitless conversation. It was a giant waste of time, but I didn’t realize it until I went out on my walk. I do some of my best thinking while walking. It struck me again that for many people, words are worse than killing.

What happened was that someone posted a photo meme of Pope Francis meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.


There’s controversy over whether or not Francis called Abbas an “angel of peace.” I’ve asked for Arabic speakers to tell me what the interpreter says in this video at 1:23-1:29, but so far I’ve gotten no response.

The photo meme posted on Twitter compares Mahmoud Abbas meeting with Pope Francis to Adolf Hitler and Pope Pius XII.


Despite what virtually the entire Internet says, the photo actually shows Hitler meeting Cardinal Michael von Faulhaber, archbishop of Munich. Von Faulhaber is a complex figure whose views on Nazism are inconsistent. However, by all accounts he delivered a sermon during Advent 1933—the period beginning four Sundays before Christmas—that contained the following line.

God always punishes the tormentors of His Chosen People, the Jews.

Hitler probably chuckled when he heard that. Twelve years later, as one million Russian artillery shells rained down on Berlin in three weeks, I wonder if Hitler remembered von Faulhaber’s warning?

Although the Twitter photo meme is incorrect, someone took issue with comparing Mahmoud Abbas to Hitler, saying it makes Jews look absurd. I don’t have the right to tell Jews how they should or shouldn’t feel when the head of the Palestinian Authority is granted legitimacy by the Vicar of Christ. After all, Mahmoud Abbas has enthusiastically called for the murder of Jews who dare to set foot on the Temple Mount.

It’s not enough for us to say: “There are those carrying out Ribat” (religious conflict / war over land claimed to be Islamic). We must all carry out Ribat in the Al-Aqsa [Mosque]. It’s not enough for us to say: “The settlers have arrived [at the Mosque].” They have come, and they must not come to the Sanctuary (i.e., Temple Mount). We have to prevent them, in any way whatsoever, from entering the Sanctuary. This is our Sanctuary, our Al-Aqsa and our Church [of the Holy Sepulchre]. They have no right to enter it. They have no right to defile it. We must prevent them. Let us stand before them with chests bared to protect our holy places.

I mentioned this to the man who objected to comparing Abbas to Hitler, and it led to a long back and forth. We achieved Peak Moral Equivalence, in that for every murderous action or word I attributed to Palestinian terrorists, he said that the Israelis had done the same. He stated that Abbas had ended violence against Jews; I pointed out that Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades had fought in Operation Protective Edge.


When there was no response, I asked him how many Israeli political parties had terrorist wings. He brought up the Irgun, which in reality wasn’t the armed wing of any Israeli political party. None of the Jewish paramilitary units are analogous to the Palestinian terrorist groups in organization, political affiliations, methods, and goals.

“What’s the difference between terrorist attacks on civilians and bombing civilians in retaliation for those attacks?” the man asked me.

I hold this truth to be self-evident: Deliberately killing civilians is not the same as accidentally killing them in a war. This is so basic that I find it infuriating that someone would make the claim that fighting terrorism is as bad as terrorism.

The discussion went on and on, and gradually the man revealed that he supported Israel’s military response against terrorists, and he didn’t think Mahmoud Abbas is interested in peace. His problem, he said, was with the narrative.

I told him that I had no idea what he was talking about.

Well, the US loses wars because it doesn’t have the right narrative.

After more back and forth, including my asking him what caliber narrative is effective against terrorists, he said, “Okay. Go on talking about how big and tough the US is, and keep losing wars.”

I went out on my walk, and that’s when it hit me: It’s the words that this man finds offensive. We Americans can kill as many terrorists as we want, as long as we don’t talk about how big and tough we are, and we don’t insult the terrorists by comparing them to Nazis.

This man wants Israel to kill terrorists but not talk about it. As he said himself, he needs a narrative—a story—that will convince an invisible audience that he’s a deeply moral person who abhors offensive words. Though he supports the killing of terrorists, his support is more sober and thoughtful than that of a strutting American braggart, so he’s a better person.


You know, just…whatever.

I wish I hadn’t wasted so much time on him. I could’ve been doing much more worthwhile things, like cleaning my giant cats’ giant litter boxes or pounding my face with a ball-peen hammer.

For everybody who wants to engage me, please take this to heart: The one thing that’ll make me drop you like a red-hot cat-litter scoop is if you reveal yourself to be someone who just pays lip service to ideals. I don’t give the slightest damn about “the narrative.” You win wars by killing the enemy. Do you think Hamas and the Islamic State are grading you on how reluctant and tortured you are at having to fight them?

Are you worried that Hamas and the Islamic State might not like you? Is that what this is about? You’re okay with killing them, but if they don’t like you, it’ll rob you of sleep and break your heart?

More and more, civilized people are becoming fatuous poseurs constantly playing to that invisible audience that they haul around with them wherever they go.

Can you imagine having to perform all the time, even in private, even inside your own head?


Talk about a hell of your own making.

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