WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans are so good at self-flagellation, even a heinous act by others may be insufficient to remind us that we're not so bad after all. For three weeks now, the media has bludgeoned the Bush administration, the secretary of defense and the U.S. military for the mistreatment of detainees in Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.
Now we have the horrific, videotaped murder of American civilian, 26-year-old Nick Berg. The perpetrators of this ghastly act proudly shout "Allahu Akbar," over the screams of the young man as they hack through the sinews of his neck and then proudly display his severed head for the camera.
The tape concludes with a prepared statement by one of the executioners claiming that "the dignity of the Muslim men and women in Abu Ghraib and others is not redeemed except by blood and souls."
As shocking as this video is -- and it is truly revolting in a way that churns your gut -- it is nothing new. Radical Islamic jihadists have been perpetrating this kind of horror against Americans for more than 20 years. And, as if to substantiate the Jihadist's claims that it's not their fault, the "blame America first" crowd in the U.S. media looks for ways to point out how we really deserve what we're getting. Equally consistent, the Arab press parrots ours in ways that incite more violence, while "leaders" in Islamic states remain mute -- or worse, condone -- the atrocities.
On March 16, 1984, CIA Station Chief William Buckley was abducted and then tortured to death in a Beirut dungeon. I carried the agonizing photographs and tape recordings of his brutal beatings back to CIA Director William J. Casey. No Islamic leaders condemned the kidnapping and murder. The U.S. media rationalized his treatment as the consequence of being a CIA employee.
On May 28, 1985, David Jacobsen, the administrator of the American University Hospital in Beirut, where most of the people treated were Muslims, was taken hostage on his way to work. No Islamic leaders denounced the perpetrators. After Jacobsen's release in November 1986, his 18 months of torture were ignored by a U.S. media more intent on castigating the Reagan administration for an "arms for hostages deal" than in punishing his captors. The same situation applied for all the other Beirut hostages.
On Feb. 17, 1988, Marine Col. William Higgins was kidnapped and subsequently murdered in Lebanon. Though the United Nations filed a complaint that one of its observers had been "taken," Islamic leaders were again unheard. When Higgins' remains were finally recovered in 1991, the silence of the U.S. media was deafening.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.