The Unique Horror of Beheadings - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
The Unique Horror of Beheadings

War is hell. We see gruesome killings on the battlefields as a tragic result of combat. We have become sadly accustomed, even jaded, to reports of the numbers of troops and innocent civilians killed in action.

Some are blown to bits by mortar shells, barrel bombs, or IEDs. Some are shot in the head or heart and die instantly. Still others die from massive gunshot wounds received in an intense firefight . And then, there are those severely wounded who are medivacked off the battlefield only to die later on an operating table.

But, beheading is killing of a much different kind. The result is the same—a dead body, grieving family and friends. But, the means are barbaric, gruesome, grotesque. It’s inhuman and inhumane. It’s intended to horrify and it does just that.

It inspires rage and calls for revenge. It becomes the catalyst for massive retaliation. Politicians promise to pursue the perpetrators to the ends of the earth and to deliver them to justice.

Terrorism is called that for self-evident reasons. The intent is to terrorize the civilized world by attacking and slaughtering innocent civilians, often women and children, to shock, frighten, and intimidate the world. 

But, beheadings and the recent immolation of the captive Jordanian pilot take terrorism to a whole new and gruesome level. Maybe in the case of beheading it should be called horrorism since that more accurately describes the special type of terror it causes. Among killings, combat related or otherwise, beheading is a uniquely grisly act, an act of barbarism.

This is one of those times when words fail miserably to convey the brutal reality. You sense the limitations of language when you hear national leaders reaching for new words to describe their outrage over the horror of the recent summary execution by decapitation of the 21 Coptic Christians by ISIS savages in Libya. It’s simply beyond words.

I was tempted to watch the video of the beheadings of the Coptic Christians. I started to watch as the 21 Coptic men, dressed in prison style orange jumpsuits, were ceremonially paraded down a Libyan beach on the Mediterranean Sea before the video cameras. Each prisoner, with head bowed in apparent resignation to his fate, was guarded closely by a masked ISIS warrior.

As the men were forced to kneel by their captors and the moment approached, I hit the stop button. I couldn’t bear to watch it. I suddenly realized I was about to do exactly what the ISIS barbarians wanted me to do. They wanted me, and the rest of the civilized Western world, to experience the carnage and bloody imagery of mass beheading executions. If I had watched it, I would have succumbed to their lurid plan.

President Obama has pledged to “degrade and destroy” ISIS. Other leaders throughout Western Europe and the Arab world have made similar promises. But, until their mission is complete, sadly, we are likely to see the continuation of this form of guerilla warfare by shock videos of horrifying executions.

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