To ISIS: From the Western World

You are nothing, really. We have seen you before in the form of the worst of ourselves. You hate the west and our values, Israel, and the very idea of a free and open society. And though the US Secretary of Defense, with great befuddlement, declared that you are an imminent threat and gave us reason to fear, I can assure you that we, the people, are not afraid anymore. You can butcher our citizens and rain rockets on our cities, and your flags may fly in European cities in between calls to kill the Jews, but you are not a new thing, nor particularly terrifying.

We have seen you before. We have seen you in all the calamities of 20th century western history. You are the Nazi, the NKVD, the Khmer Rouge. You are the German Soldier of the great war marching into France with the motto “Gott mit uns” inscribed on his belt buckle. There this soldier murdered whole villages of Frenchmen for sedition, just as you capture and kill your Christian, Yazidi, Kurdish and Jewish neighbors. That soldier never made it out of France alive.

We have seen you in the form of Stalinist purges and five year plans, Japanese imperialism and the Rape of Nanking, SS einsatzgruppen mass graves, collectivization and starvation, Cossack pogroms, the African slave trade. We have seen your frenzied appetite for blood even in its atheist manifestation during the French revolution and its theological form in the Christian crusading armies. We have seen you dumping poison pellets into gas chambers.

Nor are your ideas particularly terror inducing. We have seen your imperialism in world communism, your xenophobia and tyranny in Nazi Germany, Ustashe Croatia, and Bosnia, and in our own american experience with our treatment of the native inhabitants of these continents. What is your Islamic Imperialism but so much more of the same?

You are merely the worst of our collective western experience. You are our sins. But where there is sin, we believe, there is repentance.We erect monuments to our failures and remember them, whereas you believe that you can never fail. You are constitutionally incapable of seeing the worst of yourself because it would require a long gaze in the mirror. Even your coreligionist enemies cannot see you as truly their failing; suggesting as they do that you are a large tentacle of a Zionist conspiracy, they appropriate all their evil to their true enemies, us.

But all these sins of ours are sins precisely due to the very real and irrepressible ideas upon which we were founded. We come from Athens and Jerusalem. We have a keen sense of the good and the sublime, the proper and the Just and our waywardness in past times have been aberrations from our ideal. For how could we regard ourselves in such low moral standing as to have some among us who believe that we deserve to be afflicted with your evil on account of our sins? The answer is because we can commit sins because we believe things to be sins and you cannot because you believe nothing to be a sin but our existence. You find nothing wrong with the world and your brutality except that it hasn’t been brutal enough.

We may seem weak now. It may seem to you that we have a become a mincing, politically correct leviathan. It may seem that we, in our postmodern self reflection become self flagellation, are now incapable of arising from the dust and meeting you in the field of battle. But all those things that we have seen resembling you are now gone, and that irrepressible Judaic gift given to our ancestors always reemerges even if only to point out our faults.

They are gone because we fought against them and so against ourselves. We sent 600,000 to their death to free a people that we enslaved, a case in which repentance was paid in blood. There we developed the modern means of war, rapid fire rifles, cannons, canister fire, a weapon that turned human beings to ground meat, entrenchments, and armored naval vessels.

We sent millions of our young into battle in WWI and and stopped a German-Hungarian-Ottoman axis by means that make your civil war in Syria appear as a mere skirmish. We lost 2 million soldiers on our collective sides in a month at the battle of the Somme. We used gunned chariot, and gas, and machine gun, and artillery. Our soldiers hung their canteens on the the limbs of their brothers in arms who were compacted into the trench line. They rotted there and turned to bone. We afflicted our young with shock from the impact of our shells.

When evil sprouted wings and took flight, the RAF was there to down Luftwaffa 109s, saving Europe from your allies, the Nazis. From there we leveled entire cities and killed many thousands of civilians to ensure that Europe was rid of your kind that came before you with a Swastika. We left entire cities aflame and used the power of the atom to end Japanese imperialism. Look, dear ISIS, for your future is not all that different.

Yes, you are perhaps right. We are weak now. We could never prosecute such a furious war against you…for now. But that is not because we are weak intrinsically. We have become increasingly tolerant, but do not believe that we will be tolerant of our own destruction.

Our weakness now is yet another of our sins. Just under the surface, however, our great traditions are turbulent and they will soon arise to admonish that we have felt far too guilty for far too long and that in our guilt we will allow for our suicide. And suicide is a sin. And we will erect a monument to that particular sin upon your graves.

About the Author
Sean DeGan studied Philosophy at Kennesaw State University in Atlanta, Georgia. Along with his formal studies, Sean has developed expertise on the history of the Middle East and the State of Israel, the Israel/Palestine conflict, as well as a working knowledge of the language, religion and culture. As such, he is always in possession of more books than money.