The suicide bombers are not terrible people because they commit suicide in seeking to defend their philosophy or their cause. They are terrible people because they specifically target innocent people. There are many stories in which GIs went to sure death in defense of their country or their fellow soldiers. Many were decorated for their bravery and rightly so. But they were targeting enemy soldiers,not innocent civilian noncombatants.
Whether the targeted killing of innocent people in Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki should be treated differently than the targeted killing of innocent people by suicide bombers is a much debated matter. Certainly, no one who ordered these raids committed suicide, but is killing a man by committing suicide somehow less moral than killing a man without dying yourself? Certainly one difference is that the victims in WWII were in the tens of thousands, actually the hundreds of thousands, rather than in the hundreds. Another difference, in the case of the atomic bomb, is the many years that the killing and maiming went on. Of course, it may be that the intentional killing of innocent civilians is okay if we are the ones doing the killing.
Now,of course, it is time to play stereotyping. Vonnegut did this, so all liberals do this, that sort of nonsense that is commonly engaged in by people who lack honesty, integrity, reason, logic, fairness, balance and common sense. Did I mention a working brain? If there were no such stereotyping on the forum, it would probably occupy about half the space that it now does.
I'm reminded of the guy who said that all indians walk in single file. When asked how he knew that, he said that he saw three indians yesterday and they were walking in single file.
The interview is at http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/printpage/0,5942,17293730,00.html
It is pretty long, but here is the part noted in the post:
''Next I ask him about terrorism. It's not for any particular reason. It just seems a relevant thing to ask a writer who has seen war, who has written of war and who lives in New York City, where terrorism's horror is understood so well.
''What about terrorists? Do you understand where they're coming from? Do you regard them as soldiers too?'' I ask.
Vonnegut's reply is startling. ''I regard them as very brave people, yes,'' he says without a moment's hesitation.
''You don't think that they're mad, that, you know, anyone who would strap a bomb to himself must be mad?''
''Well, we had a guy [president Harry Truman] who dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, didn't we?'' he says.
''What George Bush and his gang did not realise was that people fight back. Peace wasn't restored in Vietnam until we got kicked out. Everything's quiet there now.''
There's a long pause before Vonnegut speaks again: ''It is sweet and noble - sweet and honourable I guess it is - to die for what you believe in.''
This borders on the outrageous. Is the author of one of the great anti-war books of the 20th century seriously saying that terrorists who kill civilians are ''sweet and honourable''?
I ask one more question: ''But terrorists believe in twisted religious things, don't they? So surely that can't be right?''
''Well, they're dying for their own self-respect,'' Vonnegut fires back. ''It's a terrible thing to deprive someone of their self-respect. It's [like] your culture is nothing, your race is nothing, you're nothing.''
There's another long pause and Vonnegut's eyes suggest his mind has wandered off somewhere. Then, suddenly, he turns back to me and says: ''It must be an amazing high.''
''What?'' I ask. ''Strapping a bomb to yourself,'' he says. ''You would know death is going to be painless, so the anticipation ... must be an amazing high.''
At this point, I give up. I can't be bothered asking him about any of the things I'd thought about: his mother's suicide, how he raised his sister's kids, the great writers he knew and partied with, how he looks back on Dresden.
Vonnegut has been many things: a grandmaster of American literature; a man who worked hard to support his family; a soldier who fought for his country.
But now he's old and he doesn't want to live any more. You only have to read his book to understand that. And because he can't find anything worthwhile to keep him alive, he finds defending terrorists somehow amusing.''
The interviewer also describes Vonnegut as someone who is tired of living, who is embittered, and who was a hero in WWII.