As an investigative journalist and human rights activist, I have been at the forefront of chronicling the atrocities committed by self-professed Islamist terrorists like al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Boko Haram, al-Shabab, al-Nusrah, and Da‘ish. I have reported on mass rape, torture, mutilation, and wide-scale slaughter. I have documented the beheadings and burning alive of human beings. I have seen horror and I have seen hell; however, I have never narrated anything as sickening as the spectacle I am about to share. If you are under the age of 18, do not read on: go get a comic book.
A teenager farmhand was accused of raping and murdering the wife of his employer. After a sham trial in a kangaroo court composed of religious fundamentalists, in which the accused appears to have confessed under coercion, the young boy was dragged to the center of town. Over 10,000 spectators, including local officials and law enforcement, gathered to watch the attack. Teachers and mothers brought their children out of school during their lunch hour to witness the implementation of religious law.
The farmhand was stripped naked by the mob in defiance of human dignity and modesty. The boy was castrated, and his penis cut off, to cries of joy from the massive crowd that was thirsty for blood. He struggled to pull himself up the chain, a futile feat considering that his fingers had been amputated before he was tied and hanged from the tree. Men, women, and children laughed at his helplessness. To extend his agony, the young boy was lowered repeatedly over a bonfire for approximately two hours. A photographer took pictures of the event as it unfolded.
After the fire was extinguished, the audience was given the opportunity to collect souvenirs from the victim’s charred corpse. As an example of the depravity of the primitive, barbaric, sadistic, and satanic population, parts of the boy’s body were sold as souvenirs to shoppers who were eager to take home tokens of the ritual murder. A group of children snapped out the teeth from the burned skull of the deceased to sell as memorabilia. One participant was particularly proud to have obtained parts of the boy’s genitalia.
Teenagers and adults all posed proudly for photographs around the body. These were sent as postcards to family members from out-of-town. The charred remains of the seventeen-year-old, believed by some to have been blamed for a crime that was committed by the husband of the murder victim, was then dragged through the streets of the dry desert town as the burning sun battered the arid and dusty landscape. The victim’s torso was placed on public display until late in the day when a person decided to bury it, not out of human dignity or compassion, but to prevent the unpleasant odor of human putrefaction.
The horror that was witnessed that day was not perpetrated by a small band of terrorists and fundamentalist fanatics. The entire population was not only complicit; it relished in the religiously-inspired ritual. It was very much a blood sacrifice that was encouraged by the fiery rhetoric of local preachers who stirred the population into frenzy. The burning alive of the young boy was a performance of faith, the expiation of sin, and an assertion of supremacy. And no, it did not take place in Syria or Iraq in 2017. It took place in Waco, Texas, on May 15, 1916, a mere 100 years ago. The victim was Jesse Washington. It was one of thousands of racially-motivated lynchings of African Americans committed over the past century and a half by white people who proudly professed to be “God-fearing” Christians.
Although these atrocities will certainly be dismissed by some as ancient news, in historical terms, they took place a split-second ago. Moreover, such racist violence persists to this day in the disproportionate murder of unarmed African Americans by predominantly Caucasian American police officers as well as the disturbing number of violent hate crimes. If the Christian world is not immune from horror, neither is the Muslim world. If Christ cannot be blamed for the crimes committed by so-called Christians in his name, neither can Muhammad (pbuh) be blamed for the crimes committed by so-called Muslims in his name. “Verily, those who say one thing and do the opposite shall be in the lowest depth of the Fire, and you will find none who could support them.” (Qur’an 4:145).
Dr. John Andrew Morrow is an Amerindian with Canadian and American citizenship. He received his PhD from the University of Toronto in the year 2000. He worked as an Assistant, Associate, and Full Professor of Foreign Languages for over a decade and a half at Park University, Northern State University, Eastern New Mexico University, the University of Virginia, and Ivy Tech Community College. He is the author of over 30 academic books in the fields of Hispanic, Islamic, and Indigenous Studies. A public figure and activist, he lectures all around the globe and acts as an advisor to world leaders. In recognition for his accomplishments, Dr. Morrow received an ISNA Leadership Award in 2016. He may be followed on Twitter at @drjamorrow. His websites are www.johnandrewmorrow.com as well as www.covenantsoftheprophet.com. His videos can be viewed on The Covenants of the Prophet Channel on YouTube.