Has Hoda Muthana, 24, the so-called ISIS bride who joined the terrorist group at 19 and was widowed twice, ever heard of Civil War-era writer Edward Everett Hale?
I’d bet the answer is “No.”
And that’s unfortunate.
Because now I can’t very well ask Muthana about Hale’s famous story, “The Man Without a Country.”
In part, that’s because she’s in a Syrian refugee camp, doing interviews and seeking pity from Americans as leverage against President Donald Trump, so she can get home to her family in Alabama and raise her baby boy in the good old U.S. of A.
“I realized I’ve made a big mistake and I know I’ve ruined my future and my son’s future and I deeply, deeply regret it,” she told the Guardian newspaper.
Being a victim is what it’s all about now. That’s her only play, to be a victim.
The ISIS bride is 24 now, a little older than my sons. She ran away from home at 19, made her way to Syria and joined ISIS, was married three times and widowed twice.
That’s the thing about ISIS members: When they’re not chopping the heads off Christians, Muslims and American journalists, they have a habit of getting killed themselves.
When she left America as a teenager, I’ve got a feeling ISIS bride wasn’t condemning the monsters who took heads or burned people alive or drowned them in cages in the name of their god.
And I really don’t think they teach Hale much in school these days, nor do schools teach civics that much.
Civics? You mean how government works and what, if any, are the responsibilities of American citizens?
Clearly, that kind of thing isn’t taught in schools. If it were, then 60 percent of Americans wouldn’t have failed a basic citizenship exam put out by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship. The group surveyed 41,000 Americans on basic questions about American history and government. But why would schools teach civics?
Now, if the fellowship had only given a test on whom Tristan Thompson cheated on Khloe Kardashian with, then many Americans would pass.
Ask people about the release date of “Game of Thrones” Season 8 and they’ll know. But ask Americans how a bill is passed, or if abolishing the Electoral College would be the fastest way to destroy the republic and bring us to the brink of “Hunger Games”?
Americans do know about becoming victims, though, and having victim status conferred upon them by media.
One thing we know about being a victim is that whatever the transgression or alleged crime, it’s not your fault, it’s someone else’s fault, and they don’t like you and therefore, they should pay.
And it helps if you look good on TV.
Muthana is an attractive woman, a seemingly devout Muslim, a mother who speaks in measured, thoughtful tones on TV.
She’s a perfect victim, except of course for the stubborn facts of her earlier tweets. Muthana wasn’t much concerned about the victim status of Syrian Orthodox Christians when, inside ISIS territory, in the Valley of the Christians, they were told to either convert and abandon their faith, pay a fine or die.
Consider her tweets when she called for American blood.
“Go on drive-bys and spill all of their blood, or rent a big truck and drive all over them,” she tweeted in March 2015, as reported by the New York Times.
And that’s exactly what some terrorists did, in the U.S. and in Europe.
President Donald Trump has said he doesn’t want her in the country. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo explained further while doing an interview on WOC Radio in Iowa:
“This is a woman who went online and tried to kill young men and women of the United States of America,” Pompeo said. “She advocated for jihad, for people to drive vans across streets here in the United States and kill Americans.”
Though Muthana was born in the U.S., the daughter of a diplomat from Yemen, Pompeo and Trump insist she is not an American citizen. It’s technical. The courts will decide.
“She’s not a U.S. citizen. She has no claim of U.S. citizenship.” Pompeo said. “In fact, she’s a terrorist, and we shouldn’t bring back foreign terrorists to the United States of America.”
Her family’s lawyer said she’d been brainwashed by ISIS. And she’s told reporters it was all a terrible mistake, that she wants to be forgiven.
But how many 19-year-old boys make terrible mistakes, with guns in their hands? Our prisons are full of them.
In Hale’s “The Man Without a Country,” the traitor Philip Nolan was given the opportunity to address the judges and plead mercy.
“Damn the United States!” Nolan cried. “I wish I may never hear of the United States again!”
His sentence terrified me. He was sentenced to a life at sea, forbidden to set one foot in America, forbidden to see her shores. And while he lived, Nolan was never to hear the words “The United States” again.
He lived a long life. But that’s a story. Just like the ISIS bride who has been brainwashed is a story.
Her son is innocent. He should be brought here to be raised by her parents. And I think she’s a citizen, since she was born here.
But citizens owe their country something.
I figure she owes 30 years in a federal penitentiary without parole.
John Kass is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. Readers may send him email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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