The word “barbarian” signifies a person who is “savage, primitive or uncivilized” (see Webster). Such people are described as “rude, wild and course.” “Barbarity” refers to “brutal or inhuman conduct, cruelty.” Acts of cruelty or inhumanity are said to be “barbarous” acts.
With those definitions in mind, is there any doubt that the savages who attacked America on September 11 are anything but barbarous? I think not. The kind of people who can seduce their children into becoming suicide bombers, and performing such acts of wanton cruelty and murder can only be described as barbarians. In fact, the word might even be too good for them.
The Meaning of “Civilized”
The word civilized is the antonym of barbarous. It depicts an opposite state. “Civilization” is an “advanced state of human society, in which a high level of culture, science, industry and government have been reached.” To “civilize” someone is to elevate them out of a primitive, savage or rude state. It is to enlighten and refine them. Civilized people are “polite, well-bred, and refined.”
The United States Constitution is one of the greatest human documents ever written. It holds Americans at all levels to the rule of law. It has had the effect of civilizing American society. To the Constitution is attached a Bill of Rights that, were it taken seriously, would set the United States apart from all other nations.
The Western democracies share with the United States the notion that civilized people must be governed not by the whims of men but by laws. The rule of law reigns supreme in the civilized world.
In the world of tyrants, despots and dictators, citizens have only the rights granted at the whim of the tyrant du jour. That often means none.
In the last century, “…during the first eighty-eight years…almost 170 million men, women and children have been shot, beaten, tortured, knifed, burned, starved, frozen, crushed, or worked to death; buried alive, drowned, hung, bombed, or killed in any other of the myriad ways governments have inflicted death on unarmed, helpless citizens and foreigners. The dead could conceivably be nearly 360 million people. It is as though our species has been devastated by a modern Black Plague. And indeed it has, but a plague of Power, not germs” (R.J. Rummel, Death by Government, 1997, p. 9).
Rummel is talking about what he calls “democide” – death by government, not war. He means governments killing their own citizens. This is the mark of the barbarian. Barbarians have a common denominator in that they share a low view of human life.
Tyrants rule by force, fear and intimidation. They rule at the point of a gun. They rule without due process, by unjustified imprisonment, torture and confiscation of property. They rule by threatening or killing the family members of their targets. They govern by fear – that is, they terrorize their own. Terror is their stock-in-trade. They rule as thugs, for that is indeed what they are.
Those who rule their own by force and terror have no compunction about exporting it to threaten or conquer others. Nor do they have any conscience problem about harboring those who specialize in slaughtering the innocent. Indeed the welcome them. Such is the culture of blood.
Recently, one of the leaders of Afghanistan’s Taliban said that he was willing to sacrifice 2 million more Afghan lives rather than release Bin Laden to the Coalition forces. This illustrates clearly the nature of the beast. To barbarians, human lives are utterly expendable in the name of clinging to power, or in the pursuit of some evil objective. These barbarians are somewhat unique – not only do they live to kill but also they live to die. This is perverse and unnatural. The apostle Paul wrote, “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it…”(Ephesians 5:29). Of course in context Paul was making a statement about marriage, but the principle applies here. It is unnatural to be self-destructive. It is perverse to believe that slaughtering thousands of innocent people going about their daily business will somehow gain one exalted status with God in the afterlife. Murder has never been the path to divine favor. Quite the opposite in fact.
Suicide is self-homicide. It is the murder of the self. Killing oneself in order to kill others simply compounds the sin.
To destroy another human being is to remove a part of God’s image from the earth. After the flood, God told his servant Noah, “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man” (Genesis 9:6). God commands the death penalty for homicide.
Of course in their perversity, the barbarians would say that is precisely what they are doing – administering the death penalty for America’s murders. Those who would say this reflect the twisted mind of Satan.
America Not Without Sin
In the fifth century, hordes of barbarians attacked the mighty but decadent Roman empire from all sides. Rome was then “the world’s only remaining superpower.” Rome’s army greatly outnumbered the armies of the barbarians. Yet the Roman Empire, “Christianized” though it was, had lost the will to defend itself. It’s military and its politics were in disarray.
The Christianity of Rome was not of the variety found in the New Covenant writings. It was a Hellenized, Latinized, politicized, caricature of it. It was a form of Christianity that actualized its worst expression, not its best. Support for the Roman government was minimal throughout the empire. Emperors had been reduced to mere figureheads, and the army generals called the shots. Says The Columbia History of the World, “Had there been any such popular support for the Roman government, it is inconceivable that the barbarian tribes, which normally numbered about 20,000 fighting men, should have overrun Italy, France, Spain, and North Africa and dominated a population of about 10 million. The Roman Empire in the west fell only because most of its subjects would not fight to preserve it” (p. 241).
At the same time the barbarians were wreaking havoc, the Constantinian Church was extending its reach and consolidating its own conquests.
When people lose the will to defend themselves, barbarians sweep in like a tsunami. Wave after wave of them inundated the Empire. The once invincible power of Rome crumbled under the onslaught.
The United States is in danger of repeating the same experience. If our leaders listen to the treasonous voices on the Left, the nation will lose the will to fight the baleful barbarism that threatens us. This is not a matter of “apprehending criminals,” it is a battle for the survival of the civilized world. It is a fight for political and religious freedom. If we don’t fight even more vigorously than the enemy, we will surely lose the war.
Strength & Weakness
The enemy we are fighting – fanatic Islamic terrorism – sees the world in terms of strength and weakness. To the degree that it perceives strength, it backs off. To the degree that it perceives weakness, it moves forward. Terrorists have spent decades studying the weaknesses of the politically free West. They have learned how to capitalize on them. To them, an open, democratic, society is a weakness. Porous borders are a weakness. Our postal system is a weakness.
You will notice that the terrorists have not elected to directly confront our military. Rather, they prey on innocent civilians, hapless travelers, and unaware workers going about their daily business. They attack where they perceive that we are vulnerable. They don’t play by the rules. They fight dirty. This is the mark of the barbarian.
In the face of barbarism, our greatest strengths become our greatest weaknesses.
The stage was long ago set for this attack. It was set by subversion from within. Those who have sought to undermine the Constitutional underpinnings of this great nation set the stage. It was incrementally set by subversive ideas like moral relativism, political correctness, celebrating “diversity” (i.e. idolatry), and the legalizing of immoral behavior. The downgrading of patriotism and conservatism played a role. The relentless denigration of Christian and Jewish values represented a major contribution.
The deleterious contributions of the Left to the weakening of this once great nation are almost too numerous to discuss here. We could certainly add environmental Marxism and terrorism to the mix. If the US and the rest of the free world were not dependent upon Arab oil, the geopolitical scene would be radically different than it is today. We would be free to render the kind of assistance to Israel that it truly needs. As it is, we are compromised in that area many ways to the middle. The oil producing states have us over an oil barrel.
The evil that is terrorism must be fought with all available resources. We are dealing with an utterly malevolent form of barbarism. It respects only strength and the willingness to use it to whatever extent necessary. Either we fight it with all we’ve got, or the light goes out on civilization.