Back in the Mess, Toby's arrived. His first words: "Kill 'em all, yeah." One kid says, smirking slightly, "All the Islamic extremists?" Toby: "No, no, I mean everyone. You're all bothering me. I want to be left alone. Clearly the only way that's going to happen is to be alone, so I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to let you all go." Toby is so my boyfriend right now. ["Toby's been on the forums lately, I gather, because he is so on my length right now." -- Wing Chun] Then he adds, "'Cept the Yankees and the Knicks." Well, you lost me there, Toby-wan. "And the Yankees and the Knicks are going to need someone to play, so keep the Red Sox and the Lakers. And the Laker Girls. And the Palm. And we'll need to keep the people who work at the Palm. That's it, though: the Yankees, the Red Sox, the Knicks, the Lakers, the Laker Girls, and anyone who works at the Palm. Sports, Laker Girls, and a well-prepared steak: that's all I need." He pauses. "Sometimes I like to mix it up with Italian...Chinese...all right, you can all stay, but don't bug me. You're on probation. Don't forget: I was this close to banishing you." ["Now I know for sure Toby's been on the boards." -- Wing Chun] Josh says, "This is Toby Ziegler, and actually, he's in charge of crafting our message to the public." Toby, to the students: "And today that message is...?" One of the kids: "'Don't bug me'?" Toby: "That's right." The first girl says, kind of half-dreamily, half-sarcastically, "Nice beard." Toby replies, "My choice, sister. And by the way, there's nothing wrong with a religion whose laws say a man's got to wear a beard or cover his head or wear a collar. It's when violation of these laws becomes a crime against the state and not your parents that we're talking about lack of choice." He reads the statement on the white board: "'Islamic extremist is to Islamic as KKK is to Christianity.' That's about right, that's a good religious analogy. What's a political analogy? What's an analogy using governments?" One kid replies, "They don't have a government." Another says, "They have the Taliban. They're the government of Afghanistan." Toby points out that the Taliban is not the recognized government of Afghanistan, but that they took over the existing recognized government, "and there's your political analogy." One student asks what he means. Time to crib from the widely circulated letter written by Afghan-American Tamim Ansary, which I can't imagine that anyone in the Western world with email hasn't been pointed to at least once in the last three weeks; I myself have received it or seen it linked no fewer than ten times. Toby sighs and says, "When you think of Afghanistan, think of Poland; when you think of the Taliban, think of the Nazis; when you think of the citizens of Afghanistan, think of Jews in concentration camps." I wonder why they avoid naming bin Laden. He looks down briefly. "A friend of my dad's who was at the camps, he used to come over to the house and he and my dad used to shoot some pinochle. He said he once saw a guy at the camp kneeling and praying. He said, 'What are you doing?' Guy said he was thanking God. And my dad's friend said, 'What could you possibly be thanking God for?' He said, 'I'm thanking God for not making me like them.' Bad people can't be recognized on sight. There's no point in trying." Toby eats a piece of an apple. Josh says, "Actually, we already covered that." Toby, chewing: "It's worth covering twice, don't you agree?" Josh does. Someone has a question for Toby: "Pinochle's a card game?" Toby: "Yeah, I've changed my mind again: kill 'em all." Josh: "Laker Girls?" Toby: "No. All right."
One student asks what the first act of terrorism was. I'm not sure that's a question that can be definitively answered, never mind in a couple of sentences on primetime television. That may be just a bit bigger piece than should have been bitten off. I think Toby and Josh know it, too. Toby looks at Josh and says, "What was the first act of terrorism?" Josh responds, "I could answer, but I think he's asking you, man." Toby knows he can't squirm out of this. He says he knows it's not new, and starts talking about the eleventh century. "I'm going to have trouble pronouncing this...in the eleventh century, secret followers of al-Hasan ibn al-Sabah, who were taught to believe in nothing and dare all, carried out these very swift and very treacherous murders of fellow Muslims." If they believed in nothing, how is it that the Muslims they allegedly killed were their fellows? "And they did it in a state of religious ecstasy." Again I ask: religious ecstasy for those who believe in nothing? My reading on this particular political/philosophical sect is very limited and occurred quite a long time ago, so I am sketchy on the details. But I think if the show is going to bring it up, it has an obligation to be clear and accurate about it. A cursory search of some of my reference books indicates that the members of this sect actually are alleged to have killed some of the Crusaders. I wish I had time to do more research on this at the moment. As Sam wanders in, Toby continues: "Young men between twelve and twenty were given hashish, and smuggled into -- I really don't know what to call it -- smuggled into a kind of specially designed pleasure garden complete with concubines. They were told this was Paradise and that the Master's angels would carry them back if they carried out murders of the Master's enemies." Hmm: so it sounds like they drugged them and manipulated them. What this has to do with religion, never mind Islam, which has always prohibited the use of mind-altering substances, is beyond me.