What’s in a Name? Part II:

cnngodswarriors.jpg What you call something is significant. In a much maligned recent miniseries on CNN, God’s Warriors, Christiane Amanpour, who produced and anchored the program, said the following while discussing martyrdom:

To the West, martyrdom has a really bad connotation because of suicide bombers who call themselves martyrs,” Amanpour stated. “Really, martyrdom is actually something that historically was quite noble, because it was about standing up and rejecting tyranny, rejecting injustice and rejecting oppression and, if necessary, dying for that.

The implication of course is that suicide bombing is actually noble. This comment, along with other misrepresentations in the series has produced a firestorm of criticism. That aside, the comment is patently inaccurate and a reporter should know better than to misuse the language in such a fashion. There are two fundamental problems with her statement.

1. “To the West, martyrdom has a really bad connotation…” That is false. Martyrdom has always carried the highest nobility in the West. Its Christian heritage is rooted in martyrdom. There is a well known aphorism that the blood of the Christian martyrs was the seed of the Church.

2. The problem is not with the word or concept in the West, as Ms. Amanpour states, but with its misuse.

martyr n.
1. One who chooses to suffer death rather than renounce religious principles.
2. One who makes great sacrifices or suffers much in order to further a belief, cause, or principle.

Throughout history, martyrs have been people who gave their life for their beliefs. Martyrs did not and do not take the lives of others. That would be murder and would invalidate a martyrs own personal sacrifice. As such, calling suicide bombers martyrs is an oxymoron at best and Islamic propaganda at worst.

While it is true that Islamists call their suicide bombers martyrs, that is a calculated misuse of the term in a propagandic attempt to give historic dignity to those who should be called what they are, murderers, not martyrs. For Christiane Amanpour to buy into that travesty makes her no longer a reporter but an apologist for murder and a propagandist of the worst order. It puts her in the category of Leni Reifenstahl, rather than among legitimate reporters.

It has often been said that those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it. I think we should also add to that those who do not know history can be deceived into believing lies and propaganda without knowing it.

It makes a person look towards the future with a certain despair.

See Also What’s in a Name?

3 thoughts on “What’s in a Name? Part II:

  1. “Martyrs did not and do not take the lives of others…As such, calling suicide bombers martyrs is an oxymoron at best and Islamic propaganda at worst.”

    Amen to that. Some folks don’t seem to get this!

    Of course the Islamists call their homocide bombers “martyrs” – in Islam, what these people do is laudable. Killing the infidel in the name of Islam is part of their belief system, something good in their eyes.

    1. It seems to me that you are saying the exact same thing as Christiane Amanpour implied in the quote that you wrote. I did not see her series, but based on the quote that you presented, she is saying that the suicide bombers misrepresent the real meaning martyrdom. 

      Perhaps, there were other comments that she made that lend support to your comment about her quote. 

      I am a first time reader, so forgive me, if I have indeed missed her point and thus misunderstood both of you.





      1. Star, sorry I didn't see you comment earlier. I thought I made the problem clear in how I deconstructed her statement. This is a ten year old article, but the principle still applies that Islam twists the historic Christian concept of martyr into something that while the person gives up their life for their beliefs, part of those beliefs is taking the lives of others–on purpose, with intent. That is murder, not martyrdom. This is not someone blowing themselves up on the bridge to protect the fleeing people from death at the hands of the pursuers. This is turning yourself into a self guided bomb to kill, often indiscriminately because in the underlying theology driving their actions, all non-believers, those who do not submit to Sharia, deserve to die anyway.

        Christiane Amanpour was trying to ennoble their actions, which I disagreed with and was the purpose of the article. I hope that helps. Blessings to your day.

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