American cities burn; violence, looting, chaos, and danger abound, and all in the name of justice for one dead man: George Floyd. None can deny that his death was a tragedy and that protest against a police service that kills those it arrests is warranted, but is that what we’re really seeing?
Surely if this were an outcry against a death, then the deaths that have occurred since would render the cause moot. It seems that there is another agenda at play, and not one that strives to honor the life and death of Mr. Floyd, but one that seeks to wreak havoc in the name of ideology.
And with ideology eventually comes one thing: Martyrdom.
A Dangerous Game
When we see Antifa members protesting at the gates of the White House with heavily armed men and women on the other side – trained to shoot and prepared to defend with lethal force – we should be asking ourselves a very simple question: Are these people, dressed in black, inciting riots and vandalism and arson wherever they go, are they actually trying to become martyrs?
We are used to hearing about this concept in Middle Eastern countries; the idea of martyrdom is an integral part of Islamic jihad, and the families of martyrs are honored, respected, and in many nations, given a pension as a “thank you payment.” But for groups like ISIS, we can perhaps understand the mentality behind why they do it. When a jihadi martyrs himself, his handlers have convinced him that heaven awaits with 72 virgins for his sacrifice. Not so with Antifa, members of which likely consider even the idea of a God a right-wing authoritarian control structure.
The term “martyr” is originally from the Greek word “martys,” meaning witness, as in one who brings testimony. In this sense, some of the first martyrs were the Disciples of Jesus. And of course, Christians over the centuries became perhaps the most famous martyrs of all.
Under the Roman Empire, it was all too often certain death to say you were a Christian, but that didn’t stop believers. Those of the Christian faith were slaughtered, blamed for everything from fires to thefts, and made to hide their beliefs. There’s an interesting story about Gnaeus Arrius Antoninus, who was both the grandfather of the emperor and, in his younger days, a proconsul of Asia.
The story is quoted by the early Christian writer Tertullian, and it perhaps provides a distinction between certain types of martyrdom. Tertullian relates that the proconsul was met by a large group, a mob of Christians, who, if they declared their faith, would be put to death. So, instead of denying, they proclaimed themselves such. Several were executed, but the rest just kept on, refusing to either deny or leave. The story goes that Antoninus, in frustration, stopped the executions and said, “You miserable wretches, if you want to die, you have cliffs to leap from and ropes to hang by.”
But there are other types of martyrdom, too. Maybe the most familiar of which is a hero who refuses to recant or goes to a noble death for the sake of a greater cause. And there are the very real tales of sacrifice that happen in almost every military campaign. But is this all the same as being a martyr, or is there a defining line that we’re missing?
Let’s step back into the Islamic world for a moment. For Islam, a martyr is someone who dies in the act of jihad; this can be a “greater” or “lesser” jihad, as long as they die. Now for the individual Muslim, they believe there is a reward waiting for them. But how do we reconcile the killing of others with a term that so often means sacrifice? Something just doesn’t mesh. That is until you start to understand how much these souls are manipulated by devious, cowardly men who serve a different agenda.
When a lone man walks into a crowd, with tears running down his face and a suicide vest primed and ready to go, we don’t often think about who put him in this situation, who convinced him that this was the best possible way he could serve his God.
There are recruiters, often working out of local mosques, whose sole job is to find the lonely, the disaffected, and to turn them into weapons in a grander game of political jihad. Across Europe, with the countless terrorist attacks we’ve witnessed these last few years, how often does the culprit turn out to be a former petty criminal with a history of drug use?
It’s not a coincidence.
Using the Weak
Those who have fallen into crime or drug dependency get taken in by these men who claim divine insight and are told that if they become the weapon of Islam, then their pain in this world will be over. That a reward awaits them, a form of immortality. And so they foolishly do the bidding of these people, destroying not only themselves but others.
And what of these shadowy men? The papers are full of news of terror attacks, or of terror attacks that failed or were stopped by law enforcement. But we never hear of these recruiters being arrested or taken out. They have convinced a human being that the only way to lead a good life is to throw it away and murder innocents. And no one is looking for them.
Let’s look again at Antifa and what’s happening in American cities.
Antifa. Skinny kids getting ready to throw themselves at the fences of one of the most heavily protected buildings in the world, with secret service agents armed and ready to defend the president. Do these messed-up kids want to die? Are they trying to martyr themselves?
Consider what could happen. If they present a big enough danger, they will be shot, and headlines all over the world will read about how young kids have died on the lawn of the White House. It will be Donald Trump’s Tiananmen Square.
But these Antifa kids. Do they actually want to die? Do they think their names will live on throughout the years, a type of immortality? Or are they being used … just like those gullible saps who strap on explosives?
And if they are being used – as seems most likely – we must ask two questions. Who is using them, and to what end?
Once again, we see lives casually disposed of for an agenda that politicians refuse to admit exists. If you want to know who the real extremists are, don’t look at the idiots rampaging through empty streets, expressing their oh-so-burning teenage angst on social media platforms. Look to the board rooms, look to the office buildings, look for those who hold disposable politicians in their pockets and see human life as nothing more than a tool to be wielded for their own despicable game.
Read more from Mark Angelides.