by CJ Clark, Featured Contributor
“Washington Post News Alert: Video said to show Islamic State burning Jordanian pilot alive.”
AS I READ that in my inbox, I felt my whole body sag, and muttered, “Oh, my God.”
Then I sat back and realized that I hadn’t had that reaction with the last couple beheadings. Yes, I was appalled, but my gut didn’t tighten like it did when they beheaded James Foley and Steven Sotloff. Can it be that these acts of horror are so frequent that I read the headline and then go back to whatever I was doing?
I don’t want that to be the case. I want to have a visceral reaction of anger toward a people who hate so deeply that they would do despicable things to human beings.
Later that afternoon, I turn on my news program and listen to the pundits diagnosing what happened. Did they burn rather than behead because this latest victim was Muslim, not Christian or Jew? What are the 2016 candidates saying, and how far out on a limb will they go in denouncing this horrid action? Why won’t our President identify the terrorists as Muslim? Is “degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL” strong enough?
You know what? I don’t care about any of it. I want to be angry and I want the leaders of this country to be very angry.
Can’t we recognize that these people hate us? Doesn’t our government realize that we will never be able to talk reasonably, and make peace? Can we not see that there are 8 million lives with a big bulls-eye on their land, surrounded by ideology that despises and wants to destroy the Jewish people? Wasn’t 911 enough? If not 911, the beheadings? What comes after burning someone alive? Will that make us angry enough to do something?
We have something very, very special in the United States and it is slipping through our fingers. For hundreds of years, we have welcomed immigrants to our land. We have fundamental protections set for by the Constitution. As we saw different groups needing help, we helped. We passed laws so that small-minded people were not allowed to discriminate. We retrofitted our architecture so that those with limited mobility could work and play. We established programs to help those less fortunate. We believed in the freedoms that our country stood for, and many, many of us were willing to fight and die to keep that freedom.
We took off our hat when the Star Spangled Banner was played. We held the door open for others as we entered. We pledged allegiance to our flag every morning, and it meant something. We scorned those who were not courteous, and we expected our children to respect others. No, we taught our children to respect others. We punished them for doing wrong, and we all learned.
America may not be perfect, but there’s nothing even close when it comes to safety, freedom and opportunity.
We are losing what we have, slowly and painfully. Sometimes I feel like I’m in a science fiction movie, and I can see the dark side seeping into our world, and all of us sitting there watching the spread and going, “huh.”
We read about suicide bombers destroying dozens of lives and livelihoods, and go back to work. We see our own countrymen being beheaded, and we change the channel. We watch our President tell us things are better, and we naively hope that he is right.
Wake up America, or we may have a very different tomorrow.