In Memoriam Tom Fox

Other American Christians ask "What Would Jesus Do?" from their bumper stickers. Tom Fox answered that question to the best of his ability.
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The body of Tom Fox was found today in Iraq. Fox, a Christian who fought war with the selfless courage of the truly nonviolent, was murdered by his kidnappers. He lived and worked for peace in obscurity. He'll get his moment in the spotlight now.

The mainstream media paid scant attention to the kidnapping of Fox and his fellow Christian Peacekeepers while he lived, giving it far less attention than the abductions of civilian employees. We wondered (here and here) whether that had anything to do with the fact that these witnesses for peace challenged two pet media objectives: to paint all religionists as conservative, and to avoid drawing attention to the questions of conscience that trouble this war. (When was the last time you saw pictures of wounded Iraqi children?)

The kidnapping got greater attention in the Islamic world, where many Muslim leaders pleaded for the release of Fox and his colleagues. These included the Canadian Muslim Congress, the Iraq Islamic Party, radical cleric Abu Qatada, and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.

Rush Limbaugh, on the other hand, said "part of me likes this" (meaning the kidnapping), and also said: "Well, here's why I like it. I like any time a bunch of leftist feel-good hand-wringers are shown reality."

The Associated Press story on Fox's death carried the government's water to the end, noting:

Iraqi and Western security officials repeatedly warned the activists before their abduction that they were taking a grave risk by moving around Baghdad without bodyguards.

As if that had somehow escaped their attention. The point was not the warning, or the danger itself, but their bravery in the face of that danger.

Tom Fox knew what he was doing, and why, as his blog makes clear. Nor was he in any way a terrorist sympathizer. "I am to stand firm against the kidnapper as I am to stand firm against the soldier," he wrote.

That's what he did. He went to Iraq and stood firm against the kidnappers, risking his life for his beliefs in a way that the leaders of this nation never have.

He inverted the belief that peace is something 'soft,' the mere absence of war:

It seems as if there is a tendency to see war as a very active force and peace as a very passive one. We refer to peace in the negative - nonviolence or non-aggression. As if peace is a vacuum created when the force of war is absent ... Is it possible that (the force of war) is in reality a negative, mirror image of the force of peace?

Though a Christian, he was an inclusive man who grieved for all the victims of sectarian violence in Jerusalem. "Whose city is it?" he wrote. "It's God's city, and not the sole possession of any of God's children. It belongs to all and it needs to be open to all."

Fox was a progressive follower of Jesus, one of the many I describe - because the media tends to ignore them - as America's Secret Christians. Other American Christians sometimes ask "What Would Jesus Do?" from their bumper stickers, as they drive through secure suburban neighborhoods.

They could do worse than follow the example of Tom Fox, who answered that question to the best of his ability.

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