Jihadist group the Islamic State [ISIS] on Tuesday claimed to have executed American journalist James Foley in revenge for US air strikes against its fighters in Iraq. The Islamist group released a video showing a masked militant purportedly beheading the reporter, who has been missing since he was seized by armed men in Syria in November 2012.
Foley was an experienced correspondent who had covered the war in Libya before heading to Syria to follow the revolt against Bashar al-Assad’s regime for the Global Post, AFP and other outlets. According to witnesses, Foley was seized in the northern Syrian province of Idlib on November 22, 2012. His family has not heard from him since, despite a public campaign for information. In the five-minute video, distributed online by known Islamic State sources, the group declares that Foley was killed after US President Barack Obama ordered air strikes against IS positions in northern Iraq. [reported at Newsmax.com 8/19/14]
Over and over, we’re told that Islam is a “religion of peace” and other nations have a right to choose the form of government they wish, and so long as the majority wants it — it’s valid.
Over and over, it’s likewise repeated that Israel — a paragon of civil liberties and individual rights when compared to beheading gangs like ISIS — is no better or worse (usually much worse) than any sort of gang of religiously fanatical thugs a bunch of politicized Muslims elect to cobble together.
The issue is deeper than Middle East politics. It’s about moral relativism, who it benefits and who loses the most by its toxic pretense.
Just ask James Foley; or his loved ones, that is.
Whenever you decline to pass judgment, you soothe those most worthy of your condemnation and you harm the ones whose virtue and goodness you otherwise might benefit from the most.
Our officials and leaders walk a moral tightrope. Depending on the day, they either insist that Islamic-run states are no better or worse than any other form of government or social system, including the United States; or they actively insist that the United States is worse.
You expect people capable of beheading an American journalist on video to say such things. But what does it mean when our own leaders keep insisting on it? Obama’s infamous “apology tour” for American sins speaks for itself. But don’t forget that his predecessor, almost immediately after 9/11, rushed to support Islam and chastise people who turn against this beloved “religion of peace.”
Watching the American policy in the Middle East is like observing a slow torture. Incrementally, we go through meaningless motions designed to do absolutely nothing except make it look like we’re doing something. The violence, hatred and retribution from the bad guys on the evil side — the side we keep treating as morally equivalent — simply gets worse and worse. Their apologists, in the White House and elsewhere, express initial outrage and then proceed to restore their incrementally circular policies as if nothing had ever happened. This has been going for decades — for all of my adult life, since at least the time of the Islamic takeover of Iran back in 1979. Nothing ever changes, and it has only become worse with the most recent American administration.
When you have moral clarity, you’re both able and willing to distinguish right from wrong, and assert yourself accordingly. Wrong judgments are always possible, because human reason is fallible, and we have to be careful. But by any standard of morality remotely worthy of the name, there’s no question who the bad guys are in relation to the conflict between the United States and Israel, on the one side, and Iran / ISIS and like-minded governments on the other. One side protects individual rights — imperfectly and inconsistently, but more or less in principle; and the other side beheads people it does not like, not only in the name of justice, but also in the name of religion and morality.
Assuming the reports of this latest atrocity are authenticated, one can only imagine the horror and grief for the journalist’s loved ones. But removing oneself from the personal level, it’s plain to see that we keep attempting the same moral relativism over and over again in the Middle East, always expecting different results and always getting the same ones — only worse than the last time — in the end.
I realize that many people assume that ideological issues do not matter, and in fact are part of the problem. “If only people weren’t zealous about their ideas, none of this extremism would ever happen.” But exactly the opposite is true. When the Islamic world attaches itself unflinchingly to an irrational, evil idea of right and wrong, and the rest of us simply say there’s no such thing as right or wrong, not really — then which side do you think is going to win?
Imagine if we treated a common criminal this way. Imagine if you responded to an attempted murder or rape, not by calling the police and demanding criminal prosecution, but by insisting that the murderer or rapist is really no morally better or worse than anyone else — and who are we to judge? It’s hard to imagine even the most strident of Obama State Department relativists ever responding to such an attack on their spouse or child in such a way. Yet when we treat organized, morally certain murderers on an international scale in that very way, we continue to act surprised when they do things like strap bombs to children and behead Westerners for being civilized people.
If you don’t believe me, simply consider the latest atrocity in the news. Look at how Obama responds, and then remember that precisely the opposite is how we need to respond, if this madness is ever going to stop.
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