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14 May 2004

Iraq, mostly

And now back to serious blogging. Yes, things are becoming uglier by the day. Yesterday I had to put someone with whom I have been corresponding for over seven years on the Spam filter. I was toying with posting his name here, to "name and shame" him, but really, I don't want to do that. I just want to never have another of his creepy political rants in my mailbox again.
It all started with the internet murder of Nick Berg, about which you all aware. This man, I'll call him "Dwayne" (which is not his name) saw and heard the "execution", out of some weird sense of "duty" on the Matt Drudge site (where else?) I have deleted his e-mail, but basically, along with a little bit of typical thoughtlessly encoded racism, he had concluded from this experience that it was necessary to kill "every man, woman and child" native to "the Middle East" because none of them deserved life. (It's always good, when calling for a reverse-jihad, to be as unspecific as possible about the boundaries defining your proposed victims, don't you think?) And I noticed that this man, who rightly or wrongly called the hooded terrorists who carried out the ritual slaying "cowards", was not volunteering to go himself to the "Middle East" and risk his own lily-white neck in pursuing this mad bloodbath.
Anyway, I have to compare and contrast with what a couple of people with moral compasses and a basic grasp of history and where we all are in it today had to say about this pivotal moment in the world's survival. First some words from one of "Dwayne's" potential condemned, Riverbend of Baghdad Burning:
"I was sick to my stomach when I first saw the video on some news channel and stood petrified, watching the screen and praying that they wouldn't show it whole because for some reason, I couldn't take my eyes off of it. I feel horrible. Was I shocked? Was I surprised? Hardly. We've been expecting this since the first pictures of the torture of Iraqi prisoners broke out." . . .
"I think beheading was the chosen method of 'execution' because the group wanted to shock Americans and westerners in the worst possible way. The torturers at Abu Ghraib and other prisons chose sexual degradation because they knew that nothing would hurt and appall Iraqis and Muslims more than those horrible, sadistic acts. To Iraqis, death is infinitely better than being raped or sexually abused. There are things worse than death itself and those pictures portrayed them."
Now, from a real warrior, rather than a pusillanimous little sabre-rattler, Arkhangel of The Better Angels of Our Nature:
"For what it's also worth, I feel foul having seen Berg's death. I can't emphasize how truly disturbing the video is. Watch if you want--but you're not going to learn or understand or get anything out of it that you wouldn't have by not seeing it.
"I'm going to try to cleanse myself, but I suspect I'll fail; there's far too much muck these days, and it sticks to you without you even trying to get dirty."
Later he had this to say:
"Ever since the video showing the gruesome death of Nick Berg came to light, many conservative commentators have decried the lack of comment on it by liberals, saying that we'd rather discuss what happened at Abu Ghraib . . .There's nothing new we would have learned from seeing Nick Berg's death throes. We already know that Zarqawi and people like him revel in death and gore--we've known that for years. We saw it when Daniel Pearl died, we saw it on September 11, and we see it day in and night out in Israel, every time another 'martyr' decides to speedily fufill their appointment with 72 dusky virgins in Paradise. . . In contrast, the images and videos coming from Abu Ghraib (and other places) reveal a level of brutality that we don't associate with ourselves, and others have only suspected. Now that it's out in the open, it's forcing us to realize that we aren't intrisically good because we're Americans, and that we are, in fact, capable of being every bit as barbarous as anyone else. There's a long history of that, by the way, but we don't like reading about it, or learning about it, because it doesn't make us feel good about ourselves. . .
"I think the real reason many of these folks are harping on Nick's death is because it gives them a chance to score easy political points. Yes, they are that crass, and that desperate. That snuff film gives them the chance to say, "Yes, what happened at Abu Ghraib was awful, but look what happened to this guy!" And then they can try to rally support for the President and the war. . .
"I happen to think that Nick Berg's death was utterly cruel, and having seen it, I'm a worse person for it. And yes, it's shocking. But it's not a surprise. And trying to wave the bloody shirt with it is appalling. The two events aren't on the same plane, and they don't cancel each other out. The fact that something like this happened does not give us the moral authority to obliterate Iraq."

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