It was an admittedly messy proposition: the traitor was bound to a chair. Behind him were sandbags to absorb the splattered blood. In front of him a row of five shooters took aim at the prisoner's heart, then discharged their weapons in unison. If they happened to miss the vital organ, the crumpled prisoner was left to slowly bleed to death.
Sometime after the Civil War, the firing squad began to fall out of favor in the United States. Critics denounced it as cruel, capricious and not well suited to the civilized world.
This makes for good movies. It also betrays a sense of just how decadent our society has become. Especially in the post-cold war era, our faith in the roaring engine of American society is complete. Our union hauls along the international economy and keeps the world safe.
It is a luxury of the American empire that we can widdle away our days romanticizing thugs, criminals and traitors. Removed from a sense of genuine threat, we can ponder their motivations and romanticize their daring. Sometimes we can even sympathize with the sense of oppression that led them to act against the common good.
Specifically, I am referring to a recent strain of empathy that has led some "oppressed" Americans to identify with the Islamic extremists who have declared war on our way of life. Of late, I have heard much talk about a supposed brotherhood of color binding Islamic terrorists with black Americans. The point was played up on a recent episode of BET Tonight, in which commentator Dr. Julianne Malveaux barked, "We have to decide whether the war on terrorism is our [black America's] war." She was joined on the show by political commentator Ron Walters, who suggested that the 9-1-1 attacks were payback for white America asserting it's masculine dominance over the oppressed people of color throughout the world. A visitor to BET.com added on one of their message boards: "It ain't about Muslims, it's about people of color." (Somehow, all three managed to overlook the profound fact that the planes crashed into the world trade center were not aimed just at white people.)
Not long after, John Lindh's parents were trotted out to tell the tale of their sensitive and misguided youth whom America left to study religion abroad in 1997 and just happened to join forces with a group whose ostensible purpose is killing Americans. John regrets fighting alongside the enemy, his parents now tell us. (Most defeated soldiers do.)
It does not matter. Men like Lindh, or Zacarias Moussaoui or shoe bomber Richard Reid are quite capable of destroying our society. A few dirty bombs detonated in America's major economic centers would devastate our economy. That easily, our way of life would crumble. That should preclude any of us from romanticizing terrorist or their anti-human agenda. We do not owe terrorists our sympathy. They are not sensitive, misguided souls. They are not part of an oppressed black brotherhood.
Simply, they are people dedicated to obliterating our way of life. They should be sent before a firing squad and treated as such. It is a dangerous, decadent game to act otherwise.