(Warning: The following column contains graphic details of Islamic jihadists’ attacks on Americans.)
Memory is strange. Often the images that stay with us over the years are ones that clearly impressed on us the import of the event and often, the horror of it.
My mind is filled.
The WTC towers being hit and falling, and people jumping on 9/11.
The death throes of the USS Arizona on Dec. 7.
Fireman Chris Fields holding the lifeless body of 1-year-old Baylee Almon at Oklahoma City on April, 19, 1995.
Charles Manson’s evil grin as the details of the murder rampage he and his followers perpetrated on Los Angeles were revealed.
The horror of the moments of political assassinations: President John Kennedy, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, Rev. Martin Luther King.
The videos of the beheadings of Daniel Pearl and Nick Berg and others.
The white leg bones protruding from victims of the Boston Bombers.
So many more, but now, something has changed.
There’s a new image, one that does more than represent a past event; it’s an image that portends our future.
May 21: A quiet street in Woolwich, London, near a military installation, was turned, in an instant in the middle of the day, into an unimaginable charnel house.
The image that will never leave me is not of the murder of an innocent man, nor his body lying in the street, but that of one of his murderers shouting to a camera, justifying the killing and as he did, he held in his left hand a meat cleaver and a knife.
The ever-lasting image for me?
His hands were bright red, covered front and back in blood. It was the blood of the innocent, and it didn’t bother the killer in the least.
He reveled in it, for his intent from the beginning, was to cause the most violent carnage a human can perpetrate on another.
He and his co-killer didn’t just plan to kill the victim, they planned to take his life and turn his body into something less than human.
First, they hit him with a car, then slashed and hacked him to death with a machete and meat cleaver, ultimately severing limbs and beheading him – leaving him to bleed his life away in the street, as one of the culprits ran toward a camera.
During the mayhem, the killers shouted allegiance to Allah and quotes from the Quran. Both were British-born black men who converted to Islam.
In the speech to the camera, the killer justified the deed because, he said, it was retribution for the killing of Muslims by the infidel. He wasn’t kidding as he threatened, “We swear by Almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you – You people will never be safe.”
The victim was Lee Rigby, a young British soldier from the 2nd Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. He was 25 years old, married and the father of a 2-year-old boy.
Lee Rigby served his country on active duty in Afghanistan, in the hellhole that is Helmand Province.
He survived that and returned home to a more gruesome death than he faced while under fire at war.
But, he actually died in the same war because the enemy he and his comrades faced in Afghanistan is the same enemy he faced last Tuesday.
The main difference is that overseas, he was armed and aware of the enemy; in London, he thought he was safe. He was out of uniform and unarmed.
But he wasn’t safe and neither are we – we meaning Western civilization, whether in this country or Europe or anywhere else in the world.
The enemy is militant Islam – whether as an army, a “movement” or individuals who perpetrate their hate and thirst for vengeance against the infidel – that’s us.
If you doubt that, you only need know that an Islamic cleric who taught one of the killers praised the men for their “courage” and said Muslims would see it as a strike on a “military target.”
Reuters reported that Imam Omar Bakri, founder of a banned Islamic group, also said, “I don’t see it as a crime as far as Islam is concerned.”
It’s nice he feels that way since the Prime Minister David Cameron and the Mayor of London Boris Johnson don’t even acknowledge that Islam could have had anything to do with the massacre.
Cameron called the killing “a betrayal of Islam.”
Not surprisingly, the BBC and most other media, refrained from making any connection between the killing, the bragging and threats of the killers and the “religion of peace.”
Then again, Bakri also said the “life of an unbeliever has no value. It has no sanctity.”
It’s clear there is no common ground of morality between Western Judeo-Christian values and Islam, regardless of its source.
That Western leaders continue the charade that we cannot tell the truth about the war against us by militant Islam only increases our danger.
That Western leaders refuse to admit that all Islamic terrorism is cut from the same cloth – whether perpetrated by two bombers in Boston, two butchers in London, 19 terrorists on four planes on 9/11 or thousands of rioting “youths” in Sweden and France – is an open invitation for more violence and our eventual demise.
“War is hell,” we’ve been told, and it is, for the military and for innocents caught in the middle.
It was hell for those killed and for those injured who then died.
Survivors, whether military or civilian, may be able to go on with their lives, but the war in their memories never goes away.
Westerners remember and grieve.
Militant Islamists celebrate, remember and plan more.
We ignore this at our peril.