You don’t have to be a follower of Jung, writes Dalrymple,
to discern something deeply symbolic in these beheadings by self-appointed executioners. To sever the head from the body, at least nowadays when we have a more refined sensibility, is not merely to kill: it is symbolically to annihilate not only the biological existence of the beheaded, but the very thoughts he has had during his lifetime.
To throw away a head as if it were a worthless inanimate object
is to deny in the most categorical way possible any ideas that it might have had while living. It is to imply that only correct thoughts can henceforth be allowed to exist in heads, the kind of thoughts that the executioners themselves have; not until there is unanimity in thoughts, they imply, will our heads rest easy on our shoulders.
No need to emphasise
the terrifying demonstration effect of the decapitation of supposed infidels by people to whom plenty of bullets are available as an alternative, swifter, and more certain method of procuring death.
We conclude, as we are intended to conclude, that
these are fierce and ruthless people whose belief in their own desert-tribal righteousness is unshakeable.
To commit barbarity in the name of righteousness
is one of the greatest joys known to man — or at least to many men — and not just to Islamists, though at the moment it is they alone who have the courage of their barbarity, and rejoice publicly in it….Cruelty is never worse than when higher authority is invoked not merely to justify, but to demand it.
The answer to the question, ‘Can people taken more or less at random, who are however members of a class or nation perceived to be an enemy of Islam, rightly be beheaded?’ is thought to be found somewhere in the Koran or the Hadith, and nowhere else. Original thought is
unnecessary, since the answer to every question has already been given, if only we are diligent enough to find it in irreproachable texts. If the Koran or the Hadith says that such beheading is right, it is right; if it says it is wrong, it is wrong. If Mohammed says we can cut off people’s heads whenever we choose, then we can; if he doesn’t, then we can’t.
Compared with this,
even the most literal-minded Bible fundamentalist in the West lives, de facto at least, like the child of Voltaire, for even such a fundamentalist probably wouldn’t dare justify decapitation as a policy by reference to David and Goliath. And if by any chance he did, he would rightly be laughed at by his fellow citizens.