Category Archives: beheading

The sadist-moralists

The dehumanisation of people is one of the mechanisms by which atrocities are committed and accepted

The dehumanisation of people is one of the mechanisms by which atrocities are committed and accepted

Committing evil for goodness’ sake, writes Dalrymple,

satisfies the inner sadist and the inner moralist at the same time.

That is why, he says, the beheadings in the Middle East and recently in the Philippines are, for those who conduct them,

such fun.

The latest outrage, Dalrymple reports (though he is sceptical about its veracity), is the

freezing to death by ISIS of 45 of their fighters who retreated, or ran away, before the advance of Iraqi forces; ISIS is alleged to have put the men into a freezer in a forensic morgue in Mosul and then put the bodies by the roadside as a warning to other would-be cowards. For myself, I was a little surprised that as sophisticated an institution as a forensic morgue was still in existence and still functioning in the Islamic State.

Dalrymple is interested in a reader’s comment underneath a report of the alleged atrocity. The commenter describes ISIS as vermin, to be eradicated as such. Dalrymple warns:

There is by now good reason to fear resort to such metaphors, the dehumanisation of people being one of the mechanisms by which atrocities are both committed and accepted. We should fear our own worst thoughts and refrain from giving them expression, for far from assuaging such thoughts, expression of them only goes to make them more frequent and more extreme. By means of such thoughts and such expressions, we become a little more like those who are supposedly the occasion of them, who have also persuaded themselves that there exist human vermin in the world to be eradicated.

This is, he says,

a call to decency and self-control, not to political correctness. Political correctness is the means by which we try to control others; decency is the means by which we try to control ourselves. There is no doubt which is the easier to undertake, and the more pleasurable and gratifying. There is a considerable element of sadism in political correctness.

From Dr Johnson's dictionary

From Dr Johnson’s dictionary

To commit barbarity in the name of righteousness is one of the greatest joys

Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 08.50.12The burning need for an Islamic Enlightenment

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.

Ethics 101

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