Sit down. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath, and focus. For fifteen seconds, count down in your head: one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand, three-one-thousand, and on. Did it feel indeterminately long? Did the seconds tick past with a monotony you failed to anticipate? Were you bored?
Allow me to alleviate you of your boredom.
Your name is Daniel Pearl. Nick Berg. Owen Armstrong. Jack Hensley. Kenneth Bigley. Paul Johnson, Jr. Aasiya Zubair, New York. Lee Rigby, London; the list goes on. You’ve just been beheaded.
According to numerous scientific studies, for fifteen seconds after the heart ceases beating you are left with conscious awareness as your brain burns away its last remnants of oxygen. It’s basic biology. Also basic biology: there are external, common, and internal carotid arteries in the human neck, a detail the average person is unaware of when considering length of time to bleed out from a slit throat. The action of slashing the most topical artery produces the first, heavy arterial flow, but not the fastest, not by far. Even when the internal carotid is severed, it can take two solid minutes to bleed to death from an unchecked flow. Two minutes: 120 seconds. Disturbingly – or not, if we’re looking at this from a purely informational standpoint – in-depth research shows once the head is fully disconnected from the body an electroencephalogram, or EEG, continues to register brain activity and mental awareness on the Hertz level associated with consciousness and cognition for four seconds or more. During those seconds eyes blink, mouths gape with final gasps for survival, and the brain continues its attempts to decipher what has happened, most likely in utter confusion. Your neck is full of nerve endings continuously sending signals to your brain: a fatty layer, tissue, muscle, ligaments, tendons, veins, arteries, and, of course, solid bone.
Writers are often told to avoid writing in the first person. It detracts from the quality of our work, we are told; it can give it a somewhat juvenile taste. But there are times even the best journalistic rules are meant to be broken. I watched the videos of the beheadings when they were first released; the first was in 2002: Daniel Pearl, the journalist. However, a decade-plus is a long time, and many changes are wrought in our thinking and reactions through age and experience, and so, before putting finger to keyboard, as it were, I returned to the grainy footage of the brutal executions.
In Daniel Pearl’s video, he is pictured obviously parroting words forced upon him by his captors before the attack begins; because that’s what it is, an attack. Your heart cannot help but break for this proud man, this family man, a musician, a wordsmith. It’s easy to tell yourself the horror of the actual beheading is somewhat dulled by the way the propaganda film has been poorly spliced; although my heart stuttered in my chest, and my fingers itched for vengeance, I moved on. In the end, Nick Berg’s videotaped demise gripped me hardest. I watched the video in silence while, for four minutes prior to his gruesome, heartless murder, he sits, bound and undoubtedly drugged – probably with the strong opiates rampantly available in the Middle East – while the cowardly masked men behind him spout imbecilic and undoubtedly puerile hatred in Arabic.
For four minutes, I ignore them; I watch Nick. He’s dazed, drugged, and has surely been dragged from his prison for countless similar episodes of propaganda garbage. His legs twitch. His shoulders sway. He is alive. Knowing what is to come, my all-too-human brain decides now’s the time to rebel. An advertisement for a video about the top 10 dangerous dogs catches my eye, and I find my mind begin to consider which ten they consider dangerous. Catching myself, I nudge my own dog with my foot, and he turns expectantly, hoping for a cookie. Out of boredom? No. A desperate distraction borne of premature horror. I have, after all, seen this before. And then, then they are upon him, dragging him up by his hair, and the screams ring out. As usual for these murders, a knife is used, and it takes time to complete the process. His mouth opens; blood bubbles out. His killer laboriously saws through layers of tissue and muscles. And his screams go on. With eyes filled with tears, and throat choked with rage, I watch Nick Berg die.
When it’s over, I spend a moment blank-faced staring at the appropriately gathering thunder clouds outside. Then, on a sigh, and with a brush of fingers to remind myself I am protected, here, in my home, I watch the video again. Remember, I order my horrified mind, see what they do; who they are.
Americans in general have a serious case of head-in-sand disease. Not only do they refuse to admit there’s evil in the world, evil so filthy and vile it would, say, behead a man with a dull buck knife, they recoil from the evidence. No, the public cries, you cannot show proof of the craven, sadistic killers who would cut a bloody swath across our nation were they given half a chance. No pictures, no overly-graphic words in print, and certainly no videos. Heaven forbid Americans be faced with the bloody truth.
On September 11, 2001, a pair of commercial airliners hijacked by self-important, crazed terrorists crashed into the Twin Towers in New York, murdering 2,977 souls. The souls of the 19 terrorists do not hold enough value to be added to the final tally; in my book, also, they are soulless. An amazing number of people seem to forget those in the Towers didn’t immediately die. No, there was no merciful sudden and unexpected cessation of life for countless Americans on that day. There are many ways to die in a combination explosion-fire-collapse, and for some, the searing heat of the flames and the horror of burning to death led them to throw themselves from windows for what they must have prayed would be a quicker end. Imagine, if not yourself, your husband, wife, mother, father, sibling, or child, trapped, terrified, and praying for mercy in the face of certain death. Despite these realities, some Americans demand mercy and understanding for the perpetrators, while countless more refuse to bear witness to reality.
No sane person enjoys exposing an innocent mind to depravity and horror. It’s in our natures as parents, adults – as protectors of those weaker than us – to shield others from pain. However, a serious mistake is being made, and it’s being written in the annals of American history. Beheadings and other evidence of the evils being perpetrated in the name of Islam are not only not being shown but are carefully and methodically removed from the internet. According to Einstein, blind belief in authority, such as government, is truth’s most ferocious enemy. “You don’t need to see that,” the powers-that-be soothe, “Don’t worry your pretty little head,” a woman is minimized and dismissed in similar words. When the Boston Phoenix dared publish a photograph and list a link to the beheading of Nick Berg, they were suffocated beneath an ocean of outrage. While such horror – and terror – is understandable, it’s wrong. It’s our prerogative, no, our inalienable right, no, our duty, to see the truth of our enemy’s actions. Images from and footage of beheadings and other atrocities should be displayed by the national media.
The American people as a whole are in desperate need of a reminder. We don’t invade foreign countries simply hoping to dip greedy hands into pockets of oil. Navy SEALs do not carry out countless classified missions because they have nothing better to do. These insurgents, these terrorists, are lower than pond scum. They are lower than mycoplasma genitalium, a parasitic bacterium found in the bladder of primates and known to science as one of the smallest living organisms on earth. But actions speak louder than words, and in the videos, which can sometimes be tracked down on sites such as Live Leaks, you can bear witness to their actions. You can refuse to back down.
To those detractors who claim the videos of beheadings are nothing but extravagant theater, it can only be said they are suffering from the most severe form of head-in-sand disease, advanced to faecal encephalopathy (feel free to look it up). As a Biology major, and someone with years of emergency medicine experience, I assure you, the videos are quite real. Conspiracy sites howling about a lack of Hollywood-level theatrical gore, attire (Really? He’s wearing orange? Well, of course he couldn’t have been beheaded, orange is, of course, a natural repellant of large knives and crazy men.), chairs, and audio track are simply trying to comfort themselves. These protestations are the security blanket of the weak. Driven by an asinine desire to proclaim, no, the boogeyman cannot be real, they spout their proclamations as loudly and vehemently as possible. It is, after all, a natural human response: the monsters aren’t real, we plead, there’s no killer in the closet, no knife-wielding maniac under the bed.
Sadly, the boogeyman is real. There is a killer in the closet. Maybe not your personal closet, but there is, in far too many American closets, a pile of apathy and a sort of willful nescience. A refusal to open their eyes and admit there are those both within and without our borders who wish us harm – a refusal which does no good other than to stunt our defense and deprive our military of incredibly well-earned gratitude. By refusing to show what some deem disturbing or offensive real-life footage on the television – while, ironically, displaying all kinds of Hollywood-generated perversities and violence simultaneously – we are dishonoring the memories of our dead. Not only those tortured, mutilated, dismembered, and beheaded, but also those murdered by jihadists in general. Consider the 1983 suicide bombings of the Marine barracks in Beirut, the suicide bombing of the USS Cole in 2000, or the 1996 Khobar Towers bombings against the United States Air Force. Consider 9-11. Consider Benghazi.
Sit down. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath, and focus. This time, imagine the most mind-blowing, body-wracking, all-encompassing agony in the world. It may last for four seconds, seven seconds, 15 seconds, or more. You’re being beheaded by terrorists who hate America. And when footage of your murder reaches the States, who will do you the honor of bearing witness to the atrocity of your murder? Who will avenge you? The boogeyman is real, and he flies under the sword of Islam. He is the insurgent, the terrorist, the Taliban, Al-Qaeda; he is ISIS. America can deny his existence no longer.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.
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