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Congresswoman compares Osama to U.S. founders

In preparation for a seminar she will participate in tomorrow for priests and Catholic educators, an Ohio congresswoman compared Osama bin Laden to America’s revolutionary founders.

“One could say that Osama bin Laden and these non-nation-state fighters with religious purpose are very similar to those kind of atypical revolutionaries that helped to cast off the British crown,” Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, told the Toledo Blade.

Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio

Before launching a military strike against Iraq, Americans should consider their own history to remember how powerful the mix of religion and politics can be, she said.

“If you think back to our founding as a country, we are a country of revolution,” said Kaptur.

She gave the interview in promoting a workshop for local Catholic leaders on the subject “Preaching and Teaching Peace in the Face of War.”

When America “cast off monarchical Britain” in 1776, it involved the help of many religious people who had fled repression in other countries, the 11-term Toledo congresswoman said. She referred specifically to the Green Mountain Boys, a patriot militia organized in 1770 in Bennington, Vt., to confront British forces.

“I think that one thing that people of faith understand about the world of Islam is that the kind of insurgency we see occurring in many of these countries is an act of hope that life will be better using Islam as the only reed that they have to lean on,” she said. “I think that people of faith understand that for many of the terrorists, their actions are acts of sacred piety to the point of losing their lives. And I think that people of faith understand that there is a heavy religious overtone to the opposition.”

She added that a U.S. military campaign to oust Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein will not resolve the underlying problems leading to political and social upheaval.

“Even if we take the ground, we do not share the culture,” she said. “And in the end we have to learn to coexist in a world with religious states that we may not agree with and find ways to cooperate.”

Kaptur said her political and moral views were influenced by her family’s tradition of Roman Catholicism and service in the U.S. Marine Corps and Army infantry.

“Our tradition is to exhaust all reasonable means before one goes to war, because our family, like so many others in our area, knows the price of war,” she said.

Kaptur said she does not believe the standards of the “Just War Doctrine,” developed by Saint Augustine in the fourth century, apply to the U.S.-Iraq showdown.

“I think that’s why there is so much angst and division over this because we’re in the gray area here,” she said. “People of religious tradition are making their voices be heard very loudly on this one. I think there’s sort of an instinctual sense that something isn’t right here, and while they know there is a problem they are not sure that war is the solution.”

Kaptur said the Catholic tradition calls for embracing the poor and the dispossessed. Thus, she believes, rather than initiate military action, the United States should try to counter the poverty and repression that she says breed terrorism in the Mideast.

“I think food and education will help stem the poverty of the young people who are being drawn into terrorism every day,” she said.

Yesterday, Kaptur and Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, presented 13,000 anti-war poems to their colleagues in Congress.

Kaptur’s pronouncements about bin Laden are reminiscent of Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., lauding the terror leader’s nation-building tactics in December.

Murray said at the time that bin Laden has been “out in these [poor] countries for decades, building schools, building roads, building infrastructure, building day care facilities, building health care facilities, and the people are extremely grateful. We haven’t done that.”

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