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When is a rescue not a rescue?

Posted by Helen Thursday, March 23, 2006

The three hostages

When British, American and other coalition soldiers risk their lives to save one British and three Canadian peace campaigners from terrorists who had kidnapped them. Then it becomes “release”. Or so it seems from the various comments on the BBC Website.

The Kember family, for instance, released the following statement:

“We are very pleased that Norman and his friends are safe.

We are grateful for all the support we have had from so many people since Norman was taken hostage.

We also thank everyone who has worked so hard for him to be set free.”

Well, how nice. Who worked so hard? And who actually set him free? Common decency requires gratitude to the soldiers who had gone in there not knowing whether they would come out alive and unharmed. But common decency seems to be in short supply among Christian peace campaigners.

Presumably, by all those who “worked so hard for him to be set free” they mean people like Moazam Begg, former Guantánamo detainee who had, one assumes, been taking a walking holiday in Afghanistan, carrying arms and ammunition when those perfidious Americans picked him up. He, too, is quoted by our own BBC:

“I am extremely pleased. I am very, very happy and hope to meet him soon after he gets back here.

I am a little concerned about the military operation and hope that nobody was hurt during that. It is the best news to come out of Iraq in a long time.

I just know the experience of being kept away from your home for such a long time. He needs time to recover and I hope that everybody gives him that.”

Gosh, how caring.

In fact, in the long list of people quoted by the Beeb, only the Prime Minister’s spokesman used the word “rescue”. Even that statement was mealy-mouthed but better than the Foreign Secretary’s who appeared to think that all these people had somehow been freed in some unexplained fashion.

Michelle Malkin (who else?) prints some letters of outraged Christians to the Christian Peacemakers Teams, who are rejoicing on their website at the “release” of their friends and comrades.

I can’t resist quoting from one letter:

“Congratulations on the safe return of your activists. I'm sorry they did not all make it home safely. I read your press release relating the "release" of the activists; please note that they were not released, they were rescued. The term release implies that their captors let them go. You know that is not true, they were rescued by a team of American and British soldiers who risked their lives to free people whom apparently have no gratitude for their actions. It is one thing to be against war and the actions of our military (I'm not justifying that position, just acknowledging your right to it), but another to deny when they SAVED YOUR ASS!!!!”

Couldn’t have put it better myself. (Well, I could, actually, by using the correct nominative case instead of the accusative in the third sentence.)

I am overcome by a strange and, no doubt, unworthy wish that the soldiers had left this bunch of ungrateful brats where they were.

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