Don't Condemn Hostages Who Denounce America
I had an epiphany, an awakening moment today, regarding the issue of those hostages held by jihadist organizations as pawns in this expanding war of militant Islam versus the rest of the world. Like millions of others, I was disgusted with the jihadi mindset that would stage an on- camera beheading of a young American reporter. But I was also disgusted with the tragedy that this courageous young reporter would in his final moments denounce his country.
My first response to that was more disgust and even contempt that in his last living moments, this young man could not show the courage to refuse to be a spokesman for the ruthless fanatics who were about to saw his head from his body. From an articulate young reporter, could we not expect the brave words of an earlier era: “Give me liberty or give me death?” That I did not hear such patriotic bravado disappointed me, as it did millions of other Americans, who leaped to denounce the unfortunate young man who died gruesomely right before us.
I was wrong – totally and completely wrong.
It took a commenter on a website discussion of the matter to open my eyes and make me realize how thoughtlessly wrong I, and millions of others, had been regarding this young man’s courage. That commenter pointed out that the jihadi captors had an evil and diabolic way of preventing such dying testaments of loyalty: they simply staged fake decapitation events to determine if a hostage would attempt a dying moment of defiance with a declaration of love for their country.
If a subject attempts to make his last words a defiant declaration of love of and loyalty to America, the jihadis do not kill him. Instead, they return him to their imprisonment and fiercely torture him for his defiance. That diabolical cleverness puts hostages into an entirely no-win position: they can be defiant before the video cameras and live to suffer more torture, or they can spout the jihadi propaganda and hope that their sadistic masters will not choose that moment to saw off their heads.
These people are in a position beyond hope, and for that reason I and the rest of this country should not ever again condemn a jihadist hostage for his dying words. We should instead put ourselves in his most unfortunate place and make no moral judgment – until we ourselves have walked some pain-filled steps in those terrible shoes…
I would hope that the parents of James Foley could read this and accept my apology for too hurriedly passing judgment on their son. I would further hope that all those others who may have possibly pre-judged young Foley would read this and tender their respects to the Foley family. While I may not countenance his judgment, I can never question his courage in going into that never-land where so many fear to tread.