June 24, 2002

H.D. MILLER has been cruising Islamist websites, reading about the “martyrs” of Afghanistan, and has some thoughts:

What makes Suraqah’s death count for anything more than the flowery rhetoric that was expended in describing it?

Beyond offering first aid, there’s no hint that his actions were ever especially heroic. He didn’t fling himself on a grenade, or charge a machinegun nest full of Special Forces troops, or hold off a battalion of Rangers. There’s no indication that his actions prolonged the Islamic theocracy of Afghanistan one minute, or delayed the establishment of a secular Afghan republic one second. The sequence of events is this: an American pilot, flying at 25,000 feet, with little risk to himself and his machine, punched a button, and Suraqah al-Andalusi was blown in half. Then the pilot flew back to the U.S.S. John F. Kennedy in time to have a bowl of Cap’n Crunch and catch the Steelers game on satellite television.

That’s how it was, and that’s exactly the way it should be.

As sorry as I am for Suraqah al-Andalusi’s widow and two children, I have to say that I’m glad his death was as impersonal and as sudden as it was. The only way I’d be happier if we could have arranged it so a minor Pentagon functionary could punch a big red button that activated a death ray on the same satallite that broadcast the NFL; a death ray that would have instantly vaporized Suraqah al-Andalusi, leaving behind a pile of ashes and a semi-molten AK-47.

We need to make the death of every terrorist and every terrorist supporter as impersonal, as inconsequential, and as unheroic as possible. Make all jihadi martyrdoms as pointless and as inevitable as Suraqah al-Andalusi’s. Take away the glamour and the heroism and the mysticism, and leave the corpse and a deep and abiding sense of hopelessness. For us it should be like the extermination of vermin, the stomping of a roach. And for them, they should made to know that the reaper is coming; they should be made to fear the shadow seconds before the darkness.

Miller was inspired to these thoughts by the viewing of the Daniel Pearl murder tape — which can be chalked up as of a piece with most everything else those guys do: brutal, evil, and ultimately ineffective. They deserve to die ingloriously, and they will, and we should rub the noses of their supporters in this fact mercilessly.

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