From the Ivory Tower

Holy War

War has long been accepted as a necessary evil, but what about the unnecessary evils of war?

Rising protest against the remaining 90,000 troops in Afghanistan has increased across the occupied country in light of recent events.  The outcry against U.S. forces has reached Washington, where the Obama Administration is considering withdrawing an additional 10,000 troops by the end of this year.

Sunday morning, in the village of Panjwai, an Afghan farmer returned home to find his entire family murdered. The youngest victim was 2 years old.

The family, displaced by war, had recently returned to the village after government officials promised protection from the nearby American forces.

The murderer, who ultimately killed 16 people, was an American soldier. Reports are unclear as to whether the United States Staff Sergeant, who has so far remained nameless, turned himself in or was detained after committing the crimes. He is being held at a NATO base in Afghanistan.


The incident has further stoked anti-American sentiment in the region.

Last month, American military personnel burned copies of The Koran, spurring nationwide protests and riots that resulted in the deaths of both American soldiers and Afghan civilians.

According to a military official, the books were removed from the detainee library because of their “extremist inscriptions.”

In wake of the riots, the UN released this statement:

“… we call upon those who would wish to express their legitimate religious sentiments to reject calls to violence, to exercise self-restraint and to avoid resorting to protests and demonstrations in order not to allow the enemies of peace to take advantage of the situation.”


Though the Taliban took credit for American casualties of the riots, it suddenly isn’t quite so clear who we are fighting to protect and who we are fighting against. The line between civilians and members of the Taliban has always been blurry in this war. But the violence and disrespect shown to the Afghan civilians and their culture is blurring the lines of necessary evil and corrupted power.

Here in the U.S., the term “war against religion” has been batted around recently in regard to a law that requires health insurance to fully cover contraceptives for women. Consider a media figure, safely situated behind a layer of makeup, arguing for women’s rights. Imagine the patriotic Senator in his three-piece suit and his carefully coordinated tie as he signs his name to a public statement on the matter.

This is how our modern “war against religion” plays out.

Can we even comprehend what it truly means to have our most sacred religious text not only disrespected but flagged as extremist and destroyed? Is it realistic to believe that the most powerful military in the world found a threat in the holy text?

The act of incinerating the books was contemptuous, and all holy wars begin with contempt.


Categories: Commentary