maSomething in the modern liberal mindset always seeks to find a moral equivalence between western civilization and its enemies, but the Islamic State is making the task more difficult than usual. The terror gang that is currently hiding much of Iraq and Syria, already notorious for mass executions and beheadings and crucifixions, has now reached for a new level of sadism by burning a captured Jordanian pilot alive.
If that sounds too much like wartime propaganda to be true, you need only search the internet for the video of the horrific event that the Islamic State has proudly posted to encourage more recruits to join their ruthless jihad. Such brutality has considerable appeal to the enemies of western civilization, offering both full indulgence of mankind’s most evil instincts and the promise of a heavenly reward, and confounds the modern liberal mindset. One has to reach back centuries to find such brutal methods employed by the west, no matter how one might try to equate water boarding or the Abu Ghraib prison scandal with the Islamic State’s behavior, and demonstrates an evil in the human soul that modern liberalism usually ascribes only to opponents of same-sex marriage or higher tax rates on the upper income brackets or some other Republican policy preference.
Acknowledging such evil in the sacrosanct “other” calls into question the moral relativism of modern liberalism, suggests the need for a stronger and more active military than modern liberalism would prefer to have, and disproves the theory that the west’s enemies can be placated by soothing rhetoric and concessions of land. Such evil is a distraction from the more pressing business of fundamental transformation of the west, too, and a political inconvenience for those politicians who would prefer to believe that it will never affect our land. Americans have been among those beheaded, though, and when terror groups have controlled lands far away they have used them to launch deadly attacks in countries far away including our own. The president’s assurances that the “tide of war is receding” because that is the public’s preference will not suffice, and only a thorough victory over the Islamic State will.
The Jordanian government has responded with executions of Islamic State prisoners, the Saudi King is vowing an increased military response with quotations from Clint Eastwood’s more robust movies, and one hopes that a similarly stiff response will come from much of the Islamic world. Perhaps that will still even modern liberalism to resistance, but we expect the usual rationalizations instead.
— Bud Norman