Friday, September 22, 2006

The "M" word

I hate how the word "martyr" is getting co-opted by those who are blowing other people up in the name of Allah, or the Palestinian people, or who knows what, and killing themselves in the process.

For centuries, "martyr" in the West has denoted a person who is put to death because of his witness to the Christian faith (the word itself derives from the ancient Greek legal term for a witness in court -- who, I presume, did not then blow up the court). Though the Christian might enter a dangerous situation expecting or even hoping for death, he did no harm to those around him. Death was inflicted on him, and his very defenselessness lent additional power to his witness for Christ.

Then along came the suicide bombers of Islam, and the perverse habit of translating the Arabic "shahid" as "martyr". So now what used to be a word for honorable self-sacrifice while doing no harm is being expanded to encompass killing yourself while doing others the ultimate harm. And consequently we have to read about such things as the Al-Aqsa "Martyrs" Brigade. What evil nonsense.

Followers of Muhammad, there's a better "M" word for what you're doing: Murder.

Ah, yes. The Al-Aqsa Murderers Brigade. That's better.