Desecration (n : blasphemous behavior; the act of depriving something of its sacred character; “desecration of the Holy Sabbath” [syn: profanation, blasphemy, sacrilege]).
Fighting in a holy city is an act of desecration. Storm troopers entering a church in Germany in search of Jews were desecrating the place, but that was the least of their crimes. I think that either everything is holy (hence all acts of warfare are desecration) or nothing is holy (and therefore everything is permitted regardless of motivation). Since adopting this latter posture puts book burning and witch burning and ice cream socials on equal moral grounds, let’s just go with the everything is holy perspective.
The holy city of Mule Fart, Arkansas has never seen the face of war, but if the aggressors come boiling out of the deserts of Asia minor and land in Mule Fart, then they will be invading a holy city. But the medieval mind-set of the mass media nurtures the distinction. So they will be less willing to call Mule Fart a holy city in their breathless puff pieces about the invading rebel cleric and his rag tag armies of mullahs and imams and schmoes.
It’s the labels that make a good story. Hector, he of Iliad fame, would have been just another spear carrier if Homer hadn’t gifted him with the label “tamer of horses.”
Rebel clerics and holy cities are medieval meme propagation. They exist to maintain a distinction. If you believe in holy cities, you should have no trouble limiting your self expression to quiet conversations within the barbed wire of the free speech zones. This place is holy, that one isn’t. Within the wire you have liberty, outside the wire you have it not. War is peace. Big brother is more than a community child support organization.
I suppose the point of view that “Yes, it is a holy city, but we intend to bomb the shit out of it regardless,” voices the pragmatic warrior’s perspective. But I prefer to set Najaf equal to Mule Fart and assert that bombing either is a travesty.
I think that this outre litte post may be better understood in the context of re-framing public debate, so I’ll refer you to people who know more about it than I, and who have a program for doing something about it too.