Confronting the monster

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Lebanese activists burn an adapted imitation of an Islamists flag reading in Arabic "We are coming to burn you" written in the centre during a protest in front of the justice ministry in Beirut on September 1, 2014. (Photo: AFP-Anwar Amro)

By: Ibrahim al-Amin

Published Monday, September 8, 2014

Whether voluntarily or by force, there has been a return to the monster known as fanaticism, to the death of reason, and death has become a spectacle. When you stand far away from the spectacle of death, you give yourself rights that are not yours. No one wants to exercise self-restraint. Everybody wants to wield a knife. The frenzy of inciting revenge is boundless as long as its advocates are not directly translating this incitement into action either by killing or getting killed.

Like all the things that make it clear to us, time and again, that we have no national identity that unites us, we react with excessive individualism towards the monster. Many behave as though the confrontation does not concern them, waiting for the fire to reach their homes before sensing the danger. The prerequisites of the Lebanese lie are a ready-to-use tool box consisting of slogans, speeches and hollow songs. Whoever feels the need to justify his nonchalance, resorts to fanaticism to deny the bitter truth.

This is not the first time in the history of our nation and our peoples that the butchers come out in the name of God. It is not the first time that our countries and cities are decimated and entire groups of people are exterminated en mass in the name of God either. Those who did that before were not of a different race, nationality, religion or ideology.

The butchers among us were preceded in these actions by their forefathers tens and hundreds of years ago. They did the same thing, with the same brutality. If they had chemical and nuclear weapons at the time, they would have destroyed all life on earth, also in the name of God. Whoever believes that a group that controls a country or a society for a decade or a century can uproot the stubborn roots of this idea is deluded. If you believe differently, all you have to do is to review the history of colonialism in all its forms during a thousand-year period at least. So as not to drift far into the distant past, let’s go a hundred years back, when the Ottomans decided to unleash a bloodbath in their colonies before they were forced out. Or when Western Crusaders decided to cover our lands with blood as they colonized us. It is a blood-soaked history of brute force and slaughter.

For three and a half years, we were persuaded that the image of daily death in Syria is a reality that we must live. Just like years ago we were persuaded that the sound of daily death in Iraq is our reality. Just like, before that, we lived in Algeria, Egypt, Sudan, Lebanon and Palestine the reality that our death is easy, that our death is our lot in this life, that it is our nature to practice self-inflicted death, that we have no choice but to get used to death as our inextricable reality.

Not a lot of time passed between beheading the two Lebanese soldiers, Ali al-Sayed and Abbas Medlej. The difference, however, is that we trained ourselves to handle the shock and contain the scene’s impact. We are not allowed to feel stunned except for a few seconds perhaps. There is no need afterwards to repeat the experience, no need to try watching another bloody spectacle. It is a single image that must haunt all our senses, and that is exactly what happened. What we are permitted to do, in the presence of all this brutishness, is to scream, swear, curse. Then we must go to bed in order to dutifully salute in the morning this impotence surrounding us.

Do we imagine ourselves in the place of the captive person, moments before his beheading live on air? What would we do? Would we exercise our heroism with which we fill the screens, the papers and the podiums as we swear and curse, analyze and preach?

Can anyone put themselves in the place of the captive - soon to be headless - man to answer a simple question. What is it that makes a human being who knows that he is being dragged to his death not scream in the face of his killer, not resist him – even by slightly twisting – or not beg for his mercy, even kiss his feet?

What is on his mind at that moment, when he is silent, motionless, waiting for the knife to slice his neck until it severs his head from his body?

It is not a contest. It is an attempt to point out that our general powerlessness is the same as that of the killer who found no other means to express his anger and demands except by killing. It is the same as the powerlessness of the victim who found nothing but resignation and silence as a theatrical farewell to life. It is the same powerlessness that makes the father, mother, brother, daughter and relatives beg friends not to react violently. It is the same powerlessness of his comrades in arms who - for a reason unknown to us - do not attack or run away. It is the same powerlessness of those in power who are only good at supplications but do not know how to get out of this predicament or get out of the way. It is the same powerlessness of the angry crowds who decide to protest by setting fire to a tire of poison under their children’s bedrooms.

And because things do not improve without clear choices and because it makes no sense to remain captive to one’s fanaticism, madness and impotence, it will no longer suffice to dance in the same circle of death. If a cruel death is inevitable, let us prepare the spectacle of our death in a way that suits us, let us prepare it in the way we presume is fitting for us.

Nothing is worth this appeasement anymore. There is only one thing to be said. This is a monster that, history teaches us, can not be tamed. This is a monster that, history and the present tell us, has no cure but annihilation, of both its roots and branches.

Ibrahim al-Amin is the Editor-in-Chief of Al-Akhbar.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

Comments

I just would like to comment on the last statement in Mr. Amin's amazing article: those extremists should be indeed removed of its roots once and for all! And I think that we have the means to do that by following some small steps that include stopping the propaganda in the media. This method cuts media coverage from ISIS, a fatal thing for a group that depends on exposure... We should all also support our army and resistance in this fight.

Excellent as always Mr.Amin...keep up the great work!

Spoken like a true Assad worshipper

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