In wake of James Foley’s beheading, can we finally say the I-word? – Rex Murphy

ISIS senior commander Abu Waheeb in Iraq

Rex Murphy“When will the world take the jihadists at their word? Is there any doubt whatsoever that ISIS — which is currently slaughtering Christians, beheading its opponents, purging ‘non-believers’ and storming about Iraq and Syria with the cry ‘Convert or Die’ — is not fanatically, ruthlessly and irredeemably rooted in religious extremism? What, in any god’s name, does the first ‘I’ in ISIS stand for?” – Rex Murphy

James Foley being decapitated by ISIS“What’s in a name?” That famous question came from the mouth of Shakespeare’s Juliet Capulet while under her rhapsodic infatuation with Romeo Montague. What Juliet means is that she doesn’t care about Romeo’s last name — nor the feud between Capulet and Montague. The name is meaningless. Love is all.

But as adults, we know that there is much in a name. Name is identity in some cases. A person’s name is his or her calling card to the world. Our names speak of honour: We speak of “the family name” (or once did) in such a sense.

Under the clotted doctrine of political correctness, we pay backhanded homage to the importance attached to the real names of things … by avoiding those real names: by dipping deeds and practices into the sludge of euphemism.

Case in point: A lot of people had a problem with naming things this week — particularly in response to the latest Islamist beheading of an “infidel,” American journalist James Foley.

With all due apologies to the dark ages, it was a medieval barbarity. The poor captive was dressed in orange for the slaughter, put on camera, forced to speak before having his head sawed off with a knife, and the whole grisly, sadistic atrocity quickly posted to the world’s bulletin board — Youtube. This was courtesy of ISIS, the Iraq/Syria terror army, the latest and most ferocious of militant Islam’s murderous brigades — a version of Al-Qaeda that even Al-Qaeda has renounced as too indiscriminately murderous.

There really can be no more patience with the waffling and doublespeak and evasiveness that has characterized much of the public comment on Islamist terrorism since 9/11.

It is simply not enough anymore (if ever it was in the first place) to offer the banal rhetorical static that follows each murderous event: that these horrors — the homicides, beheadings, crucifixions, acid-splashings, mass killings — “have nothing to do with true religious faith.”

Religion, even in a form that civilized people may regard as violently debased, is still a religion to those who embrace it. I stress, and do not apologize for, my use of the word “civilized” there. If hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, subscribe to a violent theological creed, it simply will not do to pretend — as some Western leaders, clergymen, journalists and professors insist on doing — that these are merely misguided souls who don’t properly know how to interpret a holy book.

The BBC’s Security Correspondent, Frank Gardner, said the barbaric ritual beheading “was not about religion.” Well how many “allahu akbars” have to be ululated before Mr. Gardner would accept it and kindred butcheries as religious? Have he and we so soon forgotten the psychiatrist at the military base in Fort Hood, Texas, who stood up and shouted “allahu akbar” before killing 13 people? That was not supposed to be “about religion” either. Military officials and law-enforcement investigators turned collectively blue in the face before acknowledging what the killer himself proudly proclaimed that it was, in his brutal mind at least: a “religious” act.

When will the world take the jihadists at their word? Is there any doubt whatsoever that ISIS — which is currently slaughtering Christians, beheading its opponents, purging “non-believers” and storming about Iraq and Syria with the cry “Convert or Die” — is not fanatically, ruthlessly and irredeemably rooted in religious extremism? What, in any god’s name, does the first “I” is ISIS stand for?

The President of the United States offered his, by now too familiar, affectless mush on the killing. He declared that “no faith teaches people to massacre innocents.” But that’s not how ISIS reads the Koran.

Who is Obama not to take ISIS at its word? Like the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, it is their declared goal of restoring the “Caliphate” that stirs their demented souls. If they name their religion, let us name it, too.

“It’s a sign there is an utter ruthlessness and depravity about this movement which is hideous and sickening and deplorable,” is how Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott described ISIS this week. He said the killing was “as close to pure evil as we are likely to see.”

Pure evil — there’s a terminology adequate to the deed. In this contest with radical Islam, the answer to Juliet’s question — What’s in a name? — is … everything. – National Post, 23 August 2014

» Rex Murphy is an award-winning Canadian commentator and author, primarily on Canadian political and social matters.

Syrian soldier's heads by ISIS

One Response

  1. Right on, Mr Murphy! Osama bin Laden was a true follower of Prophet Mohammed and so is ‘Caliph Ibrahim’ Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi!

    Read the Koran and the Hadiths and see if ‘Caliph’ Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his inhuman terrorist army are not following the principles of Islam to the letter!

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