Unusual Comparisons

Photo Reuters, from BBC

Photo Reuters, from BBC

When I heard about the burning of Moaz al-Kasasbeh, the Jordanian pilot last week, by ISIS, my first impulse was to tweet about how much more horrific this particular act was, than the beheadings previously carried out by ISIS on American and Japanese nationals. Then the thought came to me, how could I even consider being burnt alive worse than being beheaded? Can a comparison even be made, and risk one’s ethics to even debate the issue?

We’ve all somehow been more shocked by the burning, or perhaps we’ve become slightly desensitized to the beheadings. Yes, the beheadings are horrific, but that’s what we have come to expect from ISIS. ISIS has upped their game by burning a man alive. Perhaps there is more symbolism in that act than in the beheading, but I feel a bit sick even thinking about what ISIS’ justification was to do one execution style over the other. Both are terrible, both are horrific. Full stop.

This inner debate of mine reminded me of a debate I’d had with some good friends back in Poland, when I went to visit Auschwitz: which is worse, a Russian gulag, or a Nazi concentration camp?

These kinds of debates aren’t winnable. And ISIS still needs to be stopped.


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