I hesitate to write anything about the death of James Foley, because I agree with those Catholic writers and commenters who have pointed out how easy it is in these situations to dehumanize a person who has died in such a terrible way. There are those who wish to use his death to call for open war, those who wish to use his death to condemn or to justify our nation’s actions in the Middle East, those who wish to score political points for their party, those who recognize Mr. Foley’s Catholic faith only to score points either positively or negatively by that fact.
All of that, of course, needs to stop. Mr. Foley was and is a unique and beloved human person who has now faced the Almighty; prayers for his soul and for his suffering family are the only things anybody needs to say out loud in regards to him personally. To do more is to risk using Mr. Foley, and his horrific death, in a way that human beings should not be used.
There is one thing that ought to be said, though, about his murderers, and it is this: they are cowards.
Not because they follow Islam. Not because they live in the Middle East. Not because of any group or association or faction to which they belong. But because they were capable of treating a helpless civilian prisoner so brutally, of killing him so mercilessly, when he posed no threat at all to them, and never would. Real men neither practice nor condone such cruel evil against people who are in their power. Mr. Foley’s murderers are nothing but sniveling bullies who kill, in the end.
I think we should stop acting like terrorists are awe-inspiring agents of evil. They are not. They are the Devil’s lowest lackeys, his meanest and sorriest and least important of all who cringe and grovel and whine at the feet of evil. Even the Devil, I suspect, sneers at them while he makes use of them.
Which is why we should--though it makes the gorge rise--be praying for them, too. That they will wake up before it’s too late. That they will realize that they are not serving the true God when they commit acts of repugnant evil. That there is no reward in Heaven for the unrepentant murderers of the innocent, and that it will not be Heaven they find in the next life unless they repent of their evil while they yet live.
To pray for such cowards is not easy. But to fail to do so is to risk becoming like them.