I’m not showing any imagery of the brutal murder of kidnapped American journalist James Foley at the hands of an Islamist terrorist. If you want to see that, the internet is awash with it.
But if you have seen it or similar atrocities, you’ve probably wondered why victims seem so passive, so resigned to their fate that they offer no struggle, no defiance.
We like to think we have at least some modicum of personal bravery. We certainly wouldn’t simply kneel there and let someone kill us with little more than a whimper.
It took a commenter on a website discussion of the matter to open my eyes and make me realize how thoughtlessly wrong I, and millions of others, had been regarding this young man’s courage. That commenter pointed out that the jihadi captors had an evil and diabolic way of preventing such dying testaments of loyalty: they simply staged fake decapitation events to determine if a hostage would attempt a dying moment of defiance with a declaration of love for their country.
Over the course of two years of captivity, how many times was Foley forced to kneel and recite his nation’s “crimes” against Islam? Dozens?
The US Code of Conduct exists to give military persons who find themselves in enemy hands a standard of conduct to aspire to. But even it understands that people can only do so much. Give, but only give a little.
It only took the jihadi madmen one time to learn this diabolical lesson. In April 2004, Fabrizio Quattrocchi, an Italian security contractor kidnapped by anti-coalition forces, was executed. But moments before he was killed, he defiantly proclaimed: “Vi faccio vedere come muore un Italiano!” – “I’ll show you how an Italian dies!”
Rather incredibly, released the video of his execution. But that was the last time they would actually be so foolish as to allow a victim to proclaim any defiance.