“To be victorious, you must know the enemy,” Warned Breitbart National Security Editor Dr. Sebastian Gorka in a debate yesterday on BBC World Update. While many are questioning the value of allowing Islamic State propaganda– particularly the gruesome beheadings of UK and US citizens– to be seen in the public sphere, Dr. Gorka asserts experiencing the horror on film is necessary to understanding the Islamic State.
In a debate with the Evening Standard‘s Sam Leith, who has classified the Islamic State videos as “murder porn” in a recent column, Dr. Gorka asserted to host Dan Damon that confronting the horror of what the Islamic State does in the name of their ideology is pivotal to fully grasping why the West must defeat this threat. “That’s the only way you’re going to understand the enormity of the threat and the reality of the enemies we face today,” he noted, adding that “anybody who is endangered by them”– that is to say, every citizen of both the United States and the United Kingdom– should watch them.
Leith disagreed, arguing that giving the propaganda attention served to give undue power to the terrorist group. The high-production videos, Leith claimed, represented a “pornographization of violence which is very, very carefully set up,” and as such could function as “propaganda” used to radicalize those on the cusp of agreeing with the mission of the Islamic State. Dr. Gorka disagreed, noting that the violence in the videos was so nauseating that only someone predisposed to join the Islamic State could be moved to sympathy for the group by the video.
“It’s like the argument with video games,” Dr. Gorka explained, “Those predisposed to radicalization are going to find this material whether we censor it or not.” Dr. Gorka compared exposing the West to the violence of the Islamic State to the potential that having exposed the same to the violence of Nazi Germany would have galvanized the masses to stop the Holocaust sooner: “How different would it have been if we’d actually seen the footage of the piles of bodies, the people being murdered by the Nazis?”
Leith replied that using footage edited and produced by the Islamic State to make the point only reinforces messages that the Islamic State wants to disseminate. But that power the videos take on, Dr. Gorka replied, is already there. “Whether you like it or not, Jihadi John [the executioner in Islamic State beheading videos] is an important person, is a powerful person, and has triggered, finally, the adequate response from the United States to this threat,” he explained. Without the videos, the United States would not have taken action as quickly as it did, he concludes.
Listen to the debate via the BBC here.