Domestic Disturbances, Terrorism,
and Collateral Damage
If you’ve ever talked with anyone in law enforcement, you’ll know that one of the most dangerous issues they get called out on is a domestic disturbance. If they answer a call about an armed robbery, odds are that they will be one of many law enforcement personnel on the scene, every one of whom will be heavily armed. Someone shoots the bad guy and you go home – job over. With domestic violence, the entire situation is much more unpredictable and volatile.
In a domestic disturbance, the uniform’s job is to take charge, de-escalate, and pray for backup to arrive, because nothing prevents further violence like the presence of overpowering force. When the cop initially arrives on the scene, he/she knocks on the door forcefully but not aggressively and announces “police” in a firm but controlled voice. Upon entering the residence, they might encounter a sobbing woman on the couch with one eye swollen shut and a visibly angry male counterpart standing over her.
Using every psychological trick in the book, from posture, to tone of voice, to resting their hand on their gun, the officer talks the man down into a suitably distant chair and begins to feel an easing of tension as the man buries his face in his hands. That is, until the officer hears the cocking of a gun and senses an angry wife right behind them. Apparently, she resents the intrusion into her personal space even more than she resents her husband’s violence.
If the couple is seriously engrossed in their emotional tug-of-war, and completely beyond rational thinking, they might well answer that knock on their door by firing a gun through the closed door, possibly even hitting the responding officer. That’s the perfect example of terrorism. It’s irrational, anger-based, and designed singularly to incite fear.
Terrorists are delusional if they hope to outfight the occupying power. Their only hope is to do something so unimaginably repugnant that it will incite panic and possibly buy time. A terrorist is much like a camper who returns from a hike only to discover a grizzly bear asleep in his tent. Without hesitating to consider the options, he applies a swift, hard kick to the bear’s testicles, hoping that the animal will awaken in intense pain and scramble away to safety. That kick will unquestionably awaken the bear. The rest of the story may not go so well, especially if the slow-witted, swift-footed camper/terrorist seeks to hide behind his wife and kids.
Unless you’ve been in a coma for the past month, you’re aware of the current violence plaguing the Middle East and inciting strong emotion-based responses right here at home. What you may not realize is that this is just the latest episode in a very old domestic disturbance. And it’s a story which the former governor of California might well have benefitted from reading.
All Jews and all Muslims (practically the entire population of the Middle East) trace their roots back to the prophet Abraham. Problem is, Abraham was just another screwed up human being like the rest of us. To top things off, Abraham and his wife Sarai had a monumentally dysfunctional marriage. On more than one occasion during their early marriage and while traveling about the continent, Abraham passed his smoking-hot wife off as his sister and encouraged powerful local officials to have sex with her in return for favorable treatment. Lest you think Sarai was the poor helpless victim in all this, check your intrinsic bias and keep reading. She wielded a lot of power in that relationship.
Once Sarai got old and grew tired of having sex with Abraham, she said, “Here, take my handmaid, Hagar — translated personal slave — and do the nasty with her. That way, I can at least get some sleep and we can generate some heirs.” Sarai’s reasoning was that since she owned Hagar outright, she would also own any offspring her handmaid might produce. Everyone was happy until Hagar gave birth to a son named Ishmael — whom his father, Abraham, showered with affection.
This is the part where “poor, helpless” Sarai flexes her jealousy muscle. She tells Abraham, “Get rid of that woman and her son that you love.” (i.e. run them out of the camp, which was in essence, a death sentence since the camp was in the wilderness). Abraham obeyed. So much for Hagar and Ishmael as far as Sarai was concerned. To celebrate her victory, or to pacify dejected Abraham, Sarai resumed having sex with her elderly husband, and as occasionally happens in nature, they produced an unexpected baby. They named him Isaac and he is the father of the Jews. You can probably guess what powerful tribe sprang forth from Ishmael who miraculously survived his youth in the wilderness.
So, for the past four thousand years, the step-related offspring of Abraham have engaged in an ever-escalating family feud that will one day result in the war of all wars.
Back to the Cop on the Street
Now imagine you’re that cop on the street who gets called out to a domestic disturbance. You show up expecting to confront a quarreling husband and wife, only to find an entire family reunion where everyone is carrying a lifetime grudge towards everyone else and every single one of them has access to nuclear weapons. Do ya knock on that door? Or do ya run away and hope that the issue resolves itself?
Remember that “collateral damage” in the title? When the nukes start flying in the Middle East, we’re all likely to become collateral damage, and it all harkens back to one married man sleeping with the maid.
Only the dead have seen the end of war.
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