It’s Pink Shirt Thursday, which is something I’ve considered blogging about for some time.
Kidnapping is not the answer – wait, isn’t this post about Pink Shirt Thursday, since when were we talking about kidnapping? Well, yes, we are talking about both. I can’t write about one without the other.
Taking somebody hostage, taking them, for some purpose of your own that you know they won’t agree to willingly, that is wrong. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you think your cause is, your needs are, it’s plain wrong. It doesn’t matter if you think the person you are taking deserves it in some way, is complicit in some wrong that has been done to you, it is still wrong.
It’s wrong that three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and killed in the West Bank, and it’s wrong that many Palestinians are taken and incarcerated, children included, without much, if anything, in the way of judicial process. And it’s wrong that a Palestinian teenager has been kidnapped and killed in apparent revenge for the three Israeli lads.
It was wrong when westerners were kidnapped and held for years in Lebanon years back and it’s wrong of western governments to use extraordinary rendition and it’s wrong that various governments across the globe and across the years have conveniently ‘disappeared’ their critics. It’s wrong that various terrorist organisations have kidnapped those they think will either give them some leverage or have offended them in some way, even if they suspect the person has been informing on them. Yes, even then it is wrong.
Where there is a legal process it should be used. If there is no legal process then why not, for the love of all you hold dear, use the local power, organisational skills and resources that you are currently using for kidnapping and put them to better use.
If you are feeling like life has given you the extremely fuzzy end of the lollipop stick that is still not an excuse. Kidnapping is wrong. Period.
It’s been wrong since before Africans were kidnapped and traded into slavery and it will continue to be wrong long after the last hostage held by Somali pirates has been released.
And so to Pink Shirt Thursday.
One morning many months ago I was waking up to my husband getting dressed for work. There was some rifling through the wardrobe when he exclaimed that he’d found the correct shirt for Pink Shirt Thursday.
Is that a Thing?
Yes, it’s a Thing.
Back many years ago Bob Levinson started Pink Shirt Thursday at his place of work, which happened to be the FBI. I have no idea if it was an idea that came out of the blue (!) to him, or whether he’d heard of it being done elsewhere and thought it would be a good idea to introduce it. Whatever, it became a Thing.
Years later Bob retired and became a private investigator. The next bit of the story seems to be contentious, as there are some who cannot believe the official story, just because it’s the official story, and there are some who believe that anything FBI, even anything American, is just inherently untrustworthy. These people have posted online in comments below the line in other articles various ways of disbelieving the official story which pretty much add up to, ‘He deserved it’, ‘what do you expect?’, and many more along that theme.
To all of which I refer you to my preamble about kidnapping and it always being wrong, above.
The official story (which is the only one I have access to apart from equally unsubstantiated conspiracy theories) is that Bob traveled to Iran to investigate the smuggling of pirated cigarettes, and there he was kidnapped on March 9th, 2007. There is more detail here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Levinson
Exactly who kidnapped him and why has never been fully established, although there are suspicions and rumours. Somebody, somewhere, does know, but they aren’t telling.
One of Bob’s daughters works at Deutsche Bank, and has started Pink Shirt Thursday there. To raise awareness of the fact her father now has the dubious distinction of being the American held as a hostage for the longest period. To try and keep the issue at the top of the American government, to put pressure on all those who can do something to actually do it.
No matter what you think of Bob’s previous employers (he also worked for the DEA, as well as the FBI), no matter what you think of what he was doing in Iran, no matter what you think of the fact that he’s an American – he’s a kidnap victim and his family and friends are dealing with the fall-out from that and it’s just plain wrong.
UPDATE: the recently implemented US policy of separating children from their parents, just because those parents happen to have crossed a border to seek asylum, is as wrong as any other form of kidnapping. It’s wrong on absolutely every level. There are no excuses, no possible justifications.
It seems so reasonable, doesn’t it? So plain that it’s simply a given. Some things are good, others are bad. Most of society agrees with where the division belongs, and those that cross the line into dangerous territory are usually handed out punishment from the rest of us in order to keep our moral map aligned.
Except that we’re seeing that morality is not such a widely used ruler any longer. Religion, politics, and power are changing the rules of the game, and life is in a tailspin because of it.
It’s a worrisome thing to wonder who it is that’s going to find the answer to these growing problems, or if anybody is going to find solutions. But we must keep trying.
Thank you for sharing a powerful post, Laura. Fingers crossed we make some headway soon.
Thank you for reading and appreciating – it’s taken me some time to get my head around the whole thing. Today it just felt like the right time, even if I couldn’t do it full justice.
A colleague recently left Deutsche. He’s spending the summer travelling before resuming his career in the autumn. As a keen cyclist, there was only one thing we could get him as a leaving present. He will now be able to spend Pink Shirt Thursdays on his bike.