Politics & Policy

If— (you want to be a true jihadi)

If you can hack the head off from a hostage

Who’s kneeling bound and helpless on the floor;

If you can purge yourself of each last vestige

Of decency, morality, and Law;

If you can hate and never tire of hating,

Or, faced with truth, still hold fast to your lies,

Or, while you’re hard at work decapitating,

Show no trace of pity in your eyes:

If you can teach your kids the “victim” story,

Stir Muslim losers trapped in English slums,

Fill youthful heads with crackpot dreams of glory,

And urge them on to fiery martyrdoms;

If you can use religion as a cover

For deeds no man could pardon or excuse,

Or claim that all the ills we humans suffer

Are machinations of the evil Jews:

If you can use the fruits of Western science

(A science that your culture cannot match)

To broadcast all your hatred and defiance,

Or carry out your crimes with more dispatch;

If you can put aside sectarian violence,

Co-operate with Shi’ites from Iran,

Unite Islam; intimidate to silence

All Muslims who won’t sign up to your plan:

If you can fly a plane into a building

Filled with harmless folk you’ve never seen,

Or seize a school that’s full of little children

And murder them when rescuers break in;

If you can fill each precious living minute

With sixty seconds’ worth of evil done, 

Yours is heaven, and all the virgins in it,

And then you’ll be a real jihadi, son!

————-

** The title of the poem appears as I have shown it, with a dash, in The Definitive Edition of Rudyard Kipling’s Verse, but the dash is often left out when the poem is reproduced.  The format of the poem, by the way, was inspired by the last three stanzas of  John Donne’s The Undertaking.”

John Derbyshire — Mr. Derbyshire is a former contributing editor of National Review.

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