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Self Righteous Slaughter

On Behalf of | Aug 20, 2014 | Personal Interest

Tonight, a blog of personal privilege borne of deep, personal interest.

The death of James Foley is so moving.  He was recently murdered by the Islamic State. It well demonstrates the ruthlessness, the barbarism of the inhuman monsters who killed him.  Those who killed him were in charge, they were the law of their land.  They contend they were right, even righteous in their action. They contend his death was justified, even necessary.

Since James Foley’s death, hordes of Islamic State supporters have voiced their support for this heinous act, calling it justice.

It is the Islamic’s State’s “culture,” their world-view, their perception of the other that leads them to such atrocities.  They have the power so they ruthlessly exercise that power to supress, to kill, even annihilate those who don’t look like them, think like them, feel like them.

Protest?  Don’t even think about it. It’s people like these that help me understand how even a Christian Mystic like Bruce Cockburn could come to compose, “If I Had A Rocket Launcher.”  Sometimes you believe that direct force is all these people understand.  Sometimes you even get to a place where “an eye for an eye” seems like a rational response.

It was a self righteous slaughter, justified to suit their own ends.  And in the aftermath, their narrative sustains the just-ness of their actions. 

But the reality is the senselessness of the slaughter, the depravity of the conduct, the absolute abuse of force in the name of self righteousness.

The Islamic State hasn’t cornered that market.

A little closer to home, we recently had another self righteous slaughter.  In Ferguson, Missouri, an unarmed 18 year old was shot six times by a police officer.  “It was justified,” claimed the powers that be.  

But as any astute trial lawyer will tell you, whether the victim had pot in his system (yeah, that makes people more violent) or whether he had stolen five cigars earlier in the evening (when the shooter didn’t even know about it) or tonight’s breaking news (now 11 days after the murder) that the shooter was rushed to the hospital with a broken eye socket, but no medical records will be released, tells you that the smoke screen was created because it was a murder, not justified, not righteous, but self righteous.

The Ferguson police, it seems, have a long history of racial intolerance.  Only three officers on the force are black, all the rest are white.  Of the 5,384 stops made by police in 2013, 686 were of white people, 4,632 where of black people. Of the searches conducted that year, 92% were of black people. Those blinded by their racial animus, their hatred of “the other,” will contend here that these numbers only shows that black people commit more crimes.  But that’s not what the studies show. The Ferguson police were more likely to find contraband on the white people they searched than the black people.  But that didn’t change Ferguson’s police conduct one bit.  Such is the blinding power of a self righteous narrative.

And the beat goes on.  Ferguson’s overwhelmingly heavy handed police response with tanks, tear gas and german shepherds, a la Birmingham in 1963, tells me that these Ferguson police and their supporters might not be called the Islamic State, but the Islamic State are their fascist kinsmen.

And you know that they have no clue just how true that is.

So whether it is the Islamic State’s murder of James Foley or the Ferguson Police’s murder of Michael Brown, those who killed them were in charge, they were the law of their land. Those who killed them contend they were right, even righteous in their actions. They contend the deaths were justified, even necessary.

But the reality is the senselessness of the slaughter, the depravity of the conduct, the absolute abuse of force in the name of self righteousness.

In both murders, it is the powers that be’s perception of “the other” that led to these attrocities.  It is their barbaric inability to refuse to, maybe even be incapable of, walking a mile in “the other’s” shoes.

It isn’t just a problem for the middle east.  It’s ours, too.

Here’s to enlightenment for all.  Here’s to an end to self righteous slaughter.

May it become so.

Michael Manely