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The Barbarians are Over the Gate

Barbarians at the Gates.
(Alaric the Goth)
Barbarians at the Gates. (Alaric the Goth)
Since being awakened early in the morning by an air raid siren this past Saturday, I’ve been inundated with news articles and opinion pieces. Many are insightful and interesting; others are downright disturbing, and some are aimed at a more international audience, trying to explain to those outside of Israel what is happening, often providing analogous historical events.
The two most popular analogies are 9/11 and Pearl Harbor. While both examples capture some of the horror of what’s happening, neither can quite do it justice. 9/11 was an unprecedented terror attack on American soil, sending ripples of fear and uncertainty throughout the country.
Nearly 3,000 that day in a terrorist act captured on television. Families were stuck, unable to contact their loved ones, caught in a state of shock and unknowing. The attack was a violation of the feeling of safety most Americans had come to feel in their own country. The surprise element of the attack magnified the fear and horror.
Pearl Harbor was a brutal, sudden attack on American soil, the kamikaze bombing of the naval base in Honolulu. At home, Americans were shocked to hear of these events, horrified that their people had been attacked in such a shameful and underhanded manner by a people whom America had avoided confronting.
Good analogies both.
But in the videos put up by the terrorists themselves, I see something more.
I look at what’s going on, and I see something else. I see the barbarism of a world we thought we left behind. I see men, women, and children being rounded up and shot in massacres similar to those carried out by the Einsatzgruppen of Nazi Germany.
I see a stream of screaming butchers riding into towns and festivals like the Cossacks of Russia, slaughtering some and dragging off others as prisoners and hostages.
I see raging barbarians surging into small communities, breaking their way into homes to kill, loot, and plunder, acting like the Vandals and Visigoths of Rome.
I see mobs of thugs dragging bodies around, beating and desecrating them, acting like the vicious thugs who would lynch blacks and then drag them behind their horses in a horrid display of faux nationalism and bravery.
This plethora of unprecedented madness is why I think we’re all having such a hard time “digesting” what is happening and such a hard time explaining it to those who aren’t experiencing what is going on.
This isn’t a war. This isn’t a terrorist attack. This is the horrors of history that people have forgotten men are capable of coming back. These are the analogies that accurately sum up what is going on because what is going on isn’t anything the civilized world can understand or relate to in living memory.
We aren’t being attacked in a conventional method.
There isn’t a single horror going around.
This is barbarians coming over the gate and into our streets.
About the Author
John Brody is an avid amateur historian based in central Israel. He is deeply interested in history, both Jewish history and World history, literature, theology, and political science.
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