By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

The words of Tom Fox

Tom Fox sounds like he was a remarkable person. A Quaker working with the people of Iraq, he was kidnapped several months ago. This weekend it was learned that he’d been tortured and murdered by his captors. Lest we forget, he leaves three fellow hostages behind. Their organization, Christian Peacemaker Teams, released a statement on Friday that says in part:

We mourn the loss of Tom Fox who combined a lightness of spirit, a firm opposition to all oppression, and the recognition of God in everyone.

We renew our plea for the safe release of Harmeet Sooden, Jim Loney and Norman Kember. Each of our teammates has responded to Jesus’ prophetic call to live out a nonviolent alternative to the cycle of violence and revenge.

Fox kept a blog during his time in Iraq called Waiting in the Light. At the moment, it’s still online. has posted excerpts here and here. I find Fox’s analysis of how the United States ended up in Iraq particularly striking. Wrote Fox:

It has become increasing evident to me that after stripping away all the rationales for the US invasion of Iraq, what is left is the reality that the current U.S. Administration felt compelled to invade from a basis of hate. I can envision them saying, ‘Saddam is evil. We hate evil. Therefore we need to rid the world of this evil man and his cronies.’ I can see that actions taken by Saddam could lead them to feel hatred towards him. He and his associates built palaces and enclaves where they lived in luxury while across the Tigris River was a slum where over a million residents of Baghdad lived in poverty and squalor. He maintained control of the country by devoting huge amounts of material resources to his military and security forces, a decision that allowed the infrastructure of the city to deteriorate. And most hateful of all was his use of imprisonment and torture to keep the population of Baghdad living in a state of fear.

This is rather complex — after all, shouldn’t we hate evil? What I think Fox is saying is that though it may be natural to hate evil, it is dangerous to act on the basis of that hate, because it becomes easy to become caught up in the same evil that you’re trying to vanquish. Sadly, Fox himself, a man who had transcended such weaknesses, fell victim to the weakness — to the evil — of others.

By the way, there’s a story making its way around blogland that Rush Limbaugh actually poked fun at Fox and his fellow missionaries when they were taken captive last November, saying, “But any time a bunch of people that walk around with the head in the sand practicing a bunch of irresponsible, idiotic theory confront reality, I’m kind of happy about it, because I’m eager for people to see reality, change their minds if necessary, and have things sized up.” See the Daily Kos on this. Unbelievable, except that it’s not.

If he wanted to, Limbaugh could have an apology up on his Web site right now. He does not.

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  1. Anonymous

    A Quaker activist name of Fox … is he a direct lineal descendant of the founder?, Tom Fox quoted both George Fox and the Gospel of Thomas (deutercanonical pacifistic)– BillR

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