A friend asked me if I wanted to see a modified version of the dated, yet continually addicting, game Flappy Bird. His modified internet version replaced the bird with a plane, the green tubes with buildings, and the sound effects with the Islamic State’s monotone anthem.
Yes, internet, you have gone too far.
One of the earliest examples of terrorism being twisted into digitized humor is a 4-year-old “Onion” article written from the perspective of Santa Claus titled, “Ho, Ho, Ho! 9/11 Was an Inside Job!”— bringing jest to a comedically untouchable topic.
Memes that satirize terrorism have subsequently spread across the internet alongside attacks in countries around the world by various terrorist groups, including the radical organization identified as the Islamic State commonly known as ISIS.
ISIS memes are often interspersed across Facebook news feeds; such as a post comparing a photo from website Just Girly Things about pool parties to four ISIS prisoners chained and slowly drowning inside a cage.
Terrorist humor instigates hesitant laughs until we realize how ISIS is responsible for at least 55,047 civilian casualties and 3.2 million internally displaced people in Iraq over the course of a year as well as 1,200 fatalities around the world in less than two years, according to United Nations monitors and “The New York Times.”
As we view a video recording a man strapped with bombs around his waist screaming “Allahu Akbar” (“God is great”) and releasing confetti from his belt into a large crowd of people, we must be cognizant that in other countries suicide bombings are not merely a prank but a reality.
Joking about this reality desensitizes us to people who face the fear of being kicked out of their homes or attacked at the hands of terrorism nearly everyday — with the number of terrorism incidents in Iraq tripling between 2012 and 2013, according to the Global Terrorism Database.
As a direct descendant of Middle Eastern Christians, I have been a foreign witness to the profound pain of men, women and children of my culture being slaughtered, forced to assimilate to radical Islamic ideals, or sold as sex slaves by terrorist groups such as ISIS. Because I have been raised with the telling of firsthand accounts, it’s hard to view so-called jokes, such as a terrorist twist on Flappy Bird, funny.
Finding terrorist jokes unamusing does not mean we cannot “have a sense of humor;” it reveals that we acknowledge our common bond of humanity — a bond that transcends borders, cultures and ourselves.