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Gary Horton: Plight of Iraqi Christians

Posted: August 27, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 27, 2014 2:00 a.m.

“Oops!” Gov. Rick Perry infamously uttered during the 2012 Republican primaries.

Has George W. Bush ever uttered a private, “oops!” for the approximately 1.5 million Iraqi Christians dislocated and slaughtered since his ill-considered Gulf War II?

Most Americans had long forgotten the horrific story of Iraq’s abandoned Christians until public awareness was again jarred with yet another round of Christian killing — this time, courtesy of the ISIS gang.

This is the Christian slaughter news of today, but a decade ago, part of what was accomplished in “Mission Accomplished” was the careless opening of Iraq’s previously padlocked Pandora’s box of sectarian hatred, violence and hell.

When we took out the heavy hand of Saddam Hussein, Islamic radicals, previously controlled by a strong state, were freed to run amok. And 2000 years of ancient Christianity has since suffered devastation continuing through today.

Now we’ve learned of a hyper-radicalized ISIS chasing some last remaining Christians up a mountainside for one last grand killing. “Oops.”

Americans are just waking to a hazy, fuzzy understanding of just what mischief our meddling made.

Indeed, facing an internationally viewed humanitarian crisis of tens of thousands of Christians slaughtered on a mountaintop, Barack Obama dispatched fighter jets and drones effectively pushing back a blood-crazed ISIS.

It looks like we’re now headed back to Iraq to clean up some of the mess left behind by our prior intervention.

Boy, we went into that China shop and tore it up — and only now, with our recent jet attacks, are we repairing scant shards of Christian dishes we trashed.

It just so happened that our Lutheran church had a guest Egyptian pastor speak this past Sunday. This pastor runs emergency humanitarian aid in Iraq and visits Christian congregations raising funds for the Christian crisis in Iraq and Syria.

He spoke of whole churches bombed, abandoned, or both. Entire Christian enclaves and neighborhoods emptied, the families driven out, killed, expelled, raped, maimed.

He showed pictures of men and women yet wandering without anything but clothes, completely left to themselves like abandoned dogs with nowhere to sleep and nothing to eat save for literal food scraps.

“How could this have happened after nearly two thousand years of substantial Christianity in Iraq?” so many must have wondered.

Our Iraq II war unleashed this Christian genocide when we upended Iraqi civil order. Yet Americans have largely turned blind a eye to the slaughter.

“Mission Accomplished” felt so much more rewarding than “Christians slaughtered.”
Where there had once been more than 1.5 million secure Iraqi Christians, just short years into the war a million had been chased from their churches and homes, with tens of thousands murdered.

Last night I reran a 2007 “60 Minutes” episode featuring then-Bagdad Anglican Vicar the Reverend Canon Andrew White.

Asked “60 Minutes,” “You were here during Saddam’s reign. And now after. Which was better?”

“The situation now is clearly worse than under Saddam,” White replied.

“There’s no comparison between Iraq now and then. Things are the most difficult they have ever been for Christians. Probably ever in history. They’ve never known it like now.”

“Wait a minute. Christians have been here for 2,000 years,” “60 Minutes” replied.

“Yes,” White said. “And it’s now the worst it has ever been.”

Saddam was plainly a dictator covered in blood — but this same dictator kept a lid on the religious boiling pot simmering under his dictatorial thumb.

It may hurt our American psyche and mythos to face it, but in toppling Saddam’s state, America unleashed the “evil-doers” who’ve annihilated a 2000-year ancient Christian population.

Until Barack Obama’s bombing of ISIS, no official American effort was made to protect Iraq’s vulnerable Christian population. Left to fend for themselves, most survivors ended up refugees in what was then “religiously tolerant Syria” or sought the protection of tolerant Kurdish areas.

George Bush’s ill-conceived Iraq war diminished America’s morality as we ignored the resulting genocide against a defenseless Christian population.

As Americans wake up to the slaughter their war support enabled, one hopes our national soul can be washed clean by acknowledgement and ownership of this tragic outcome at our hands.

Obama’s bombing and intervention will surely help on the margin — but it is too little, too late, as a timeless and stoic people have tragically already been disposed and eradicated as casualties of a casually considered war.

This grand tragedy of Christian genocide is a sin of war Christian America yet largely remains to acknowledge, to confess, and to forever again forsake.

Gary Horton is a Santa Clarita resident. “Full Speed to Port!” appears Wednesdays in The Signal.


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