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Jon Schwarz

Jon Schwarz is editor of and was research producer for 'Capitalism: A Love Story.' He's also contributed to the New Yorker, New York Times, Atlantic, Wall Street Journal, Slate, Saturday Night Live and NPR.

June 5th, 2013 1:39 PM

Let's Send Tony Blair and the Woolwich Killer to Debate Extremism on Mars

After Michael Adebolajo decapitated Lee Rigby on May 22nd, he stood on the streets of Woolwich and told the Western world that "you lot are extrem[ists]."

More than most Americans, I'm open to hearing this perspective. The $4 trillion invasion of Iraq that killed hundreds of thousands of people, all based on lies – I feel that was pretty extreme. Torture in a worldwide network of secret prisons – also extreme. President Obama claiming the right to murder U.S. citizens with flying killer robots – extreme.

Yet I can't help questioning Adebolajo's belief that he was the ideal spokesman to bring this message to humanity. I don't know, it's hard to put my finger on exactly why, but maybe it's the way he was carrying a hatchet and literally covered in blood.

I suspect this is how most of the world's Muslims look at Tony Blair's new declaration that the Islamic world is full of "extremists."

It's not that most Muslims necessarily disagree. They hate and fear people like Adebolajo who slaughter people in the name of Islam – just like I hate and fear George W. Bush for invading Iraq because God told him to, due to something or other involving Gog and Magog. 

At the same time, Muslims likely are puzzled by Tony Blair's conviction that he's the perfect man to speak up and help them over this rough patch. It's not just that Blair bolstered Bush's mission-from-God in Iraq with his own enthusiastic lies. It's that "Blair the Warrior" was "part of Tony living out his faith," according to a longtime member of Blair's inner circle. Blair is also "very happy" to see British public schools handed over to private foundations that teach "creation theory as literally depicted in Genesis."

Then there's the extreme fact that Blair is lying again about mideast WMD in his new manifesto, this time claiming there's conclusive evidence the Syrian regime "is using chemical weapons" (there isn't) or that Iran is "still intent on getting a nuclear weapon" (U.S. intelligence services agree Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program and has not decided whether to move ahead with one).

And there's the extreme way Blair okayed $2 billion in bribes to Saudi Arabia's Salafist royal family, and received a "Golden Medal of Freedom" from his buddy Hashim Thaci, who runs a crime-ring that murdered Serbs and sold their organs. (Oddly, while both the Saudis and Thaci are extreme and Muslim, they do not make Blair's list of Muslim extremists.)

Of course, all that said, I obviously don't want to say that Blair and Adebolajo are exactly the same. For instance, Blair's hands are only metaphorically covered in blood.

But I am tired of both of these guys, and would like to propose some possible new guidelines to apply to everybody of all religions and all nationalities everywhere:

1. No matter how strongly you feel on certain subjects, everyone should strive not to slaughter other human beings, whether via hatchet in Woolwich, white phosphorus in Fallujah, or (coming soon) tungsten rods dropped at supersonic speeds from space.

2. If you absolutely must slaughter other people, please refrain from following up the slaughter with a lugubrious explanation of how the people you massacred were "the real extremists."

3. If you can't follow rules #1 and #2, we will send you to Mars, where all of you can engage in a fascinating debate over which of you is truly extreme and which is merely defending their people from the other's dangerous extremism. The rest of us will get back to what we were doing previously regarding people from other places, which is finding their accents sexy.

What do you say? If the technology isn't ready yet for the whole Mars concept, I'm open to just making Michael and Tony bunkmates, so they can spend the rest of their lives thrashing it all out in the same cell.

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