The beheading of James Foley was gruesome, nearly impossible to watch and incredibly tragic, and every single American should see it...twice.
Our response to this and nearly any other horrific tragedy is almost identical – express outrage and shock, avoid discomfort and then carry on with life as it was.
Sept. 11, 2001 is a prime example. Do we ever see footage of it anymore? When was the last time you saw a picture of the Twin Towers? It's as if they never existed. TV episodes and movie scenes have been pulled or edited simply because they have the Twin Towers in them. Why?
Because we don't want to offend anyone. We don't want to bring up pain and terrible memories. We want to avoid the discomfort that comes with facing or remembering tragedy and prefer to carry on with life as it was. It's so much easier that way.
This undated image shows a frame from a video released by Islamic State militants Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, showing the killing of journalist James Foley by the militant group. Foley, from Rochester, N.H., went missing in 2012 in northern Syria while on assignment for Agence France-Press and the Boston-based media company GlobalPost. (AP Photo)
It's also dangerous and naïve.
Let's say you're at a charity fundraiser dinner. You're dressed to the nines, your swanky friends surround you as well as a 100 other posh party goers. In the middle of the event, your drunk uncle gets on the buffet table and dumps the shrimp cocktail bowl on his head because someone nominated him to do the ALS ice bucket challenge three days ago.
More than likely, you'd want to forget this incident as soon as possible, would never talk about it, perhaps even ask people to delete any pictures or video of it (unless you wanted to use it for blackmail purposes) and move on with your life as if it never happened.
But what if your uncle was an alcoholic and this was the 12th bowl of shrimp cocktail to suffer at the hands of his inebriation?
Your avoidance of the incident takes on a different look. Now you're enabling him, trying to sweep a pattern of continued terrible behavior under the rug so that you don't have any discomfort in your life. Unfortunately, other bowls of shrimp cocktail will be overturned and the problem will only continue and grow because of that selfish avoidance.
This undated file image posted on a militant website on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 shows fighters from the Al Qaeda linked Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) marching in Raqqa, Syria. (AP Photo/militant website, File)
That's exactly what we are doing now, again, with the execution of James Foley at the hands of the Islamic State. There is an obvious and continuing pattern with radical Islamists that we are confronted with yet again, and rather than face it head on, we are trying to avoid it to keep from offending our delicate sensibilities.
The New York Post was one of the few places that didn't worry about those sensibilities and they were absolutely slammed for it. On Wednesday's cover was the image of James Foley in the orange jumpsuit and a knife pressed against his throat the moment before his life was brutally ended.
Twitter users called it offensive, distasteful, disgusting, appalling, terribly offensive and many other things that cannot be printed here. They are absolutely right...in a way. It is the actual act which should receive that anger, not the image of it. What is odd to me is that rather than turn their disgust to the savages who actually beheaded our fellow American, they aim it at the newspaper that simply showed one image of it. If only their indignation was so sharp for the Islamic State!
Those images and that video should be everywhere, not to indulge in some callous indifference toward his family or some grotesque perverse pleasure, but to grab the attention and concern of every American.
In this citizen journalism image provided by Edlib News Network, ENN, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, a protester holds a placard depicting U.S. President Barack Obama during a demonstration in Kafr Nabil town, Idlib province, northern Syria, Friday, Jan. 10, 2014. Rebel-on-rebel fighting between an al-Qaida-linked group and an array of more moderate and ultraconservative Islamists has killed nearly 500 people over the past week in northern Syria, an activist group said Friday, in the most serious bout of violence among opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad since the civil war began. The Arabic on the poster is an acronym meaning, "the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant." (AP Photo/Edlib News Network ENN)
We have a problem and it's not going away.
Every American should be offended, horrified and disturbed by this. It should sear a place in our memory so that we don't forget it or how it made us feel, so that it does stay with us forever. And after it offends any kind of sensibilities you have and makes your stomach turn, you should watch it again.
There are nearly 100,000 soldiers in the Islamic State army alone who would love to kill any American in the most gruesome way possible. Some of them may already be here. Millions more around the globe detest us and seek our death and destruction, in fact they celebrate it.
Pretending these things aren't happening or getting indignant at those who point it out is no better than trying to win at hide and seek by simply covering your eyes. If I can't see them, they can't see me! If I avoid reality, I won't have to deal with it!
Instead of trying to bury our head in the sand to preserve some illusion of a life without violent and evil enemies, we should keep our eyes wide open so that we can see, recognize and confront those who so lustily seek our destruction.
For other articles and writings by Darrell, please visit the Milk Crate.
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