Tom Fox went to Baghdad to wage peace. He was captured by a group calling itself the Swords of Righteousness Brigade, and held hostage along with three other members of Christian Peacemaker Teams. In the latest film released by the Swords of Righteousness, Fox was missing from the group. Fox’s body was found in Baghdad Friday, and the identity confirmed this week by the FBI.A statement released by Christian Peacemaker Teams said, “
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.
In response to Tom’s passing, we ask that everyone set aside inclinations to vilify or demonize others, no matter what they have done.
While the ACLU was busy filing a lawsuit in federal court today to get the FBI to comply with Freedom Of Information requests related to improperly investigating law-abiding human rights and advocacy groups like the Thomas Merton center for peace and justice in Pittsburgh, the FBI was busy in the Chicago area spying on the United Methodist Church. It seems that one of Tom Fox’s cohorts at Christian Peacemaker Teams has been staying in an unused parsonage building owned by the denomination. The FBI has been around asking questions about Christian Peacemakers Teams.
Tom Fox’s website tells us what was so threatening about Tom’s work.
“Why are we here?” We are here to root out all aspects of dehumanization that exists within us. We are here to stand with those being dehumanized by oppressors and stand firm against that dehumanization. We are here to stop people, including ourselves, from dehumanizing any of God’s children, no matter how much they dehumanize their own souls.”
It seems as if the first step down the road to violence is taken when I dehumanize a person. That violence might stay within my thoughts or find its way into the outer world and become expressed verbally, psychologically, structurally or physically. As soon as I rob a fellow human being of his or her humanity by sticking a dehumanizing label on them, I begin the process that can have, as an end result, torture, injury and death.
And what did the Swords of Righteousness have to say? They said Fox was a spy.
Would that be an example of a dehumanizing label?
Update: This writing was migrated from a different site, the comments appeared there and are reprinted with the names obscured.
3 Responses to “Requiem for Tom Fox: A Threat to the Swords of Righteousness Brigade AND the FBI.”
March 14th, 2006 at 9:05 pm I am not, as you know, a Christian. Still, I have an immense amount of respect for what these people were doing – as I do for people of all backgrounds, philosophies and religion who stick their necks out – sometimes literally – for peace.
People say it takes courage to go into battle with a gun. I imagine it does. But it takes much much more courage to go into a battle zone without a gun, working to help other human beings caught in the crossfire of people who believe that the only way to be brave is to fight.
These people were an example to us all. I would one day like to do something as noble as what Tom Fox was doing – though of course I would never want to meet the same fate.
March 15th, 2006 at 12:39 am
Thank you for your nice words.
There is a story about someone from the embassy meeting with Tom Fox. Supposedly she showed up with an armed guard and several armed vehicles, and Fox thought it was overly restrictive.
If your readers have never seen one, this is what a polite refusal for a temporary job in the green zone looks like, pasted from my Email. I hear they have no shortage of people who want to go there:
From: firstname.lastname@example.org Add to Address Book Add Mobile Alert
Subject: Thanks For Applying
Dear XXXXX XXXXX,
Thank you for your application for vacancy announcement number:
Portfolio Press Officer (Iraq)
This is to advise you that the vacancy has been filled.
We appreciate your interest in employment and encourage you to apply
for future vacancies for which you are qualified.
Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs
Civil Service Personnel-Civil Service & Iraq Jobs
While I was moved by Fox’s story, and I have certainly wandered around the Middle East unarmed, I’m afraid I would want to be the one arriving in the armored vehicle in this situation.
March 15th, 2006 at 12:46 am Fox was Quaker.