POTUS: Burning the Jordanian Pilot Avenges the Crusades

At least the Nazis tried to keep their atrocities under cover. 

Secret photographs and films of mass shootings, roundups of Jews, and scorched earth policies were sneaked out to a disbelieving West.  The Holocaust itself was top-secret while it took place.  Even Hitler privately rather than publicly watched the torturously slow death of the conspirators involved in Operation Valkyrie, the failed plot to overthrow him.  According to witnesses, Hitler watched the film of the executions with fascination and enjoyment.

But for the contemporary SS known as ISIS, there are no secret executions.  There are no deeds done in darkness, be they rapes of women and children, crucifixions of captives, the attempted elimination of ethnic groups, or the grisly execution of downed pilot Moa’ath al-Kassasbeh by burning him alive in a cage.   

On the contrary, the film recording the immolation of the Jordanian pilot was watched on big screens by a cheering crowd in the Syrian town of Raqqa, a stronghold of the Islamic State.  Many chanted “Allahu Akhbar” as they watched.  According to Ynet, the video “seeks to justify burning Kassasbeh alive by showing footage of the air strikes launched by the US-led coalition in Syria since September.”

In other words, for ISIS, the U.S. is the entity really responsible for Kassasbeh’s gruesome death, not ISIS itself.  The contemporary SS was only reacting to American atrocities.

The reaction of our president to the series of snuff films distributed by ISIS for the world to see, be they of James Foley’s beheading, the execution of Japanese hostages, or the cremation of Kassasbeh while he was alive has always been appalling. 

But the speech he recently gave at the National Prayer Breakfast goes beyond his usual foot-dragging tepidity and his refusal to name the source of terrorism to outright endorsement of ISIS’s rage against the West.  Some have characterized Obamaʼs speech, a talk in which he reminded a largely Christian audience that “terrible deeds have been done in the name of Christ,” as endorsing moral equivalency. 

But his speech was not just a tiresome reiteration of the left’s theme of moral equivalency.  It was far worse than that.  The president of the United States actually gave a rationale for why ISIS was justified in burning Kassasbeh alive.  Obama’s words effectively endorsed the actions of ISIS as a justifiable response to the behavior of Christians during the Crusades.  He essentially implied the burning the Jordanian pilot avenged the Crusades.

Yes, that is what the commander in chief of the United States not so subtly did.

Let that sink in. 

Our president apparently believes in an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth when it comes to revenge for acts perpetrated by Christians almost a thousand years ago.  Should we be surprised?  He even indicated in his speech that he essentially sees Christianity as the source of much evil in the United States, as being behind Jim Crow laws and racism.  This despite the fact that it was U.S. Christians who fought against slavery; this despite the fact that the Civil Rights Movement was led by a Christian, Martin Luther King, Jr.

To no avail.  In Obama’s thinking, Christianity is the problem, not the solution.  In this, he joins the left in lockstep.

The enormous implications of the president’s remarks are almost incomprehensible.  By rationalizing ISIS atrocities as being an understandable and justifiable response to the Crusades, he is savaging and insulting present-day Christians.  Not only that, but he is basically accepting a return to scorched-earth, genocidal warfare uninfluenced by Geneva Convention protocol governing the treatment of prisoners and civilians. 

He is, essentially, despite platitudes about barbarity and boilerplate press releases about the horrors of the terrorism he refuses to name, rationalizing a return to war as it has always been before the attempts of, yes, a largely Christianized West to mitigate war’s worst horrors. 

ISIS is basically a reincarnation of the barbarity of the past, but this time the barbarities are not hidden away, but strutted before the watching world as surely as the reliefs from King Sennacherib’s throne room detail and exult in the atrocities of war.  In those reliefs, we see battering rams pounding at the wooden gates of Lachish.  Prisoners are shown being skinned alive in front of their families watching behind the city walls.  Soldiers are shown being impaled while the few survivors of the siege are force-marched to Nineveh, where they will become mercenaries for the Assyrian army.  Meanwhile, their women and children are sold into slavery.

It was also thus when Julius Caesar’s famous campaigns in Gaul led to the defeat of Vercingetorix.  The price of the war against the leader of the Gauls was the starvation of his soldiers’ wives and children, hopelessly caught between enemy lines during siege warfare.  According to some estimates, before Caesar, there were six million people living in Gaul.  After Caesar arrived in 58, one million were dead, and one million were enslaved.

It is impossible to cite all the examples of ISIS-type wars.  Humanity has been afflicted with total war mentality throughout the ages, be it Caesar, Napoleon, Hitler, or Stalin.

But for the president of the United States to knowingly and willfully justify ISIS atrocities on the basis that “terrible things have been done in the name of Christ” not only avoids dealing with a mindset that demands complete annihilation of the enemy, but also ignores the continual reformation of Christian thinking that has led to the Church’s contemporary stances concerning war.

Find today the marauding bands of militarized Southern Baptists raping women and children.  Find today the Methodists who are crucifying and burying children alive.  Find today the Catholics who are burning caged hostages alive.  Then maybe we can talk about moral equivalency.  Then maybe we can talk about Islamists and Christians being alike in their methods of war.

Noting the brutalities done a thousand years ago by Christians does nothing to address or to mitigate the present exigencies now confronting the Middle East and the West due to radical Islamism characterized by groups such as ISIS.

Of course, this is not the first time our president has shown open contempt for and repudiation of Western values.  We are well aware of how he feels about people who cling to Christianity.

So we probably will never see him rise up in complete condemnation of ISIS’s Islamists, much less use meaningful, definitive force against them.  

It’s just too much to expect that the dire exigencies at hand will excite outrage that translates into action by Obama.  Instead, we will doubtless hear and see more reruns of stale arguments about events that happened hundreds of years ago, all red herrings to deflect attention from the atrocities being openly committed in the here and now – all side shows designed to engender endless arguments about the evils of the Crusades.  It is always a good idea for the ever cynical politician to divert attention to abstractions and Potemkin villages rather than to present realties. 

Who will it be who joins king Abdullah of Jordan to fight the monsters that in the name of Allah make and distribute their snuff films to the entire watching world?  Who will join him to rid the earth of a degraded people who should be attacked and destroyed before they make an end of what remains of Middle Eastern civilization?

Let’s hope to God there are those who see past the president’s verbal smokescreens, the cynical feints, and his puerile and simplistic view of historic and contemporary Christianity. 

Let us pray there will be those who see the light of reality and who will be willing to fight against yet another manifestation of unmitigated evil.

Fay Voshell holds a M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, which awarded her a prize for excellence in systematic theology.  She is a frequent contributor to American Thinker.  Her articles have also appeared in PJMedia, National Review, RealClearReligion, and many other online publications.  She may be reached at fvoshell@yahoo.com.