6.09.2006

shame

I'm amazed at how many people find it perfectly acceptable to celebrate the death of another human being. If they are told that person is their enemy, then the death is cause for happiness.

From a letter to The New York Times:
Whatever else is going on in the world, whatever you dislike about the American government, it deserves credit for removing this barbaric murderer.
Am I the only person who finds this sentence ironic?

Someone else, from the Bronx, New York, says:
Don't get me wrong: I am glad to hear the news that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has been killed. It is to be hoped that his death will result in the saving of American and Iraqi lives.

But I think that the reported euphoria is somewhat unbecoming. It reminds me of the television footage of Iraqis celebrating the deaths of American soldiers.
He's almost got it, but not quite. Yes, the euphoria is unbecoming. But what of that first sentence?

Do these people really believe that the death of this one person will save the lives of many? Or is it just that those saved lives are more important, because they're American and Israeli?

22 comments:

Vera said...

I totally agree with you. It's been very upsetting to me in the past when America has executed a criminal and the public and media go into a frenzy. Every time you log onto the Internet, turn on your radio or TV, you're faced with bloodthirsty hounds who want to celebrate someone's death.

Actually I shouldn't call them bloodthirsty hounds. Any hounds I've known would never act that way.

On some occasions it has been so bad that I've just closed down for a time. I don't care how vile a person is, as soon as we kill them we are no better. It just makes me sick.

Daniel wbc said...

Once again, you have read my mind. Walking in to work today, I passed the newspapers with their headlines -- and explicit photos -- and I thought, this isn't right. It is not OK to celebrate a killing, regardless of circumstance. And it says more about the celebrators than the dead person. Ick.

redsock said...

They did the same thing after murdering Saddam's sons.

And then, after his photo has been splattered across front pages and TV screens, someone in Iraq will post a photo of a dead US soldier on some nothing of a website and Rumsfeld will bray about how that's a violation of the Geneva convention.

(What's funny is that there is a real good chance this guy (who the press sometimes reported had a wooden leg, sometimes didn't (as he outran US forces!)) was killed about four years ago.)

James said...

I can't say I'm sorry to see the end of Zarqawi. I have no sympathy for anyone who'll saw another person's head off on video to make a political point. I won't be celebrating -- killing someone to stop them is inherently a failure -- but I certainly won't be mourning.

Of course, what's not being mentioned much is that the US killed at least two other people (a woman and her son) in bombing Zarqawi -- another great example of how air-to-ground missiles are really not good policing tools (see many of Israel's recent dealings with PLO leaders for more examples).

And, of course, Bush has had many documented opportunities to capture or kill Zarqawi in the past -- years ago, in fact. Had they done so, many people killed at Zarqawi's command would now be alive. But it was more politically convenient for Bush to do it now.

Zarqawi himself is a bit of a US construct; when he was first invoked as "proof" that Al Qaeda was working in Iraq, he wasn't even a member (he was in Kurdish territory, where Hussein had no power, in any case). He didn't join Al Qaeda and bring Al Qaeda into Iraq until after the US invasion.

And even if you grant that this is a "victory" in the War on Terror... How many civilians has the US killed to get to this secondary guy? Far more than died on Sept 11. And the real mastermind is still at large.

Sept 11 was not a military attack, and the military response has done far more harm than good.
I don't care how vile a person is, as soon as we kill them we are no better.

That really depends on circumstances. While killing someone, as I said, is a failure, sometimes it's the only option available. Had, say, air marshals on the Sept 11 flights managed to stop the hijackers by killing them, I think they'd've been entirely justified. It would have been better to stop them without killing them, but far worse to have failed to stop them.

It's hard to make the case, though, that an attack where air-to-ground missiles are involved qualifies as one of those situations.

L-girl said...

Vera and Daniel WBC, thanks for this. In the US, it often felt like we (Allan and I) were the only ones who felt this way. I knew it wasn't true, of course - certainly not in NYC - but this perspective is never heard in any mainstream way.

The US still clinging to capital punishment, and Canada having abolished it decades ago, is really a big reason I wanted to be in Canada. It's not a current hot topic like the war, so we don't talk about it as much, but it's so important. It says so much about a society.

Actually I shouldn't call them bloodthirsty hounds. Any hounds I've known would never act that way.

How true. When people say others are "acting like animals," it's an insult to animals. Often, acting like humans is as bad as it gets.

L-girl said...

And the real mastermind is still at large.

Dick Cheney? Indeed he is.

redsock said...

Heh.

FYI, a recent comment by Rex Tomb, Chief of Investigative Publicity for the FBI, is commented upon here: "The FBI has no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11."

Blogger George Washington unearths a similar quote from the same Mr. Tomb, dated September 27, 2001.

David Cho said...

I think it is postive that it happened, but I am not celebrating it.

But I do admire your consistency. You opposed the war in Iraq as well as our involvement in Yugosalivia while many people sided with it just because... Well, just because their guy (Clinton) was running the war.

Also, I remember you taking a leftwing publication to task for likening Ann Coulter to a man based on her looks and behavior.

This is a poisened atmosphere indeed. The rightwing slammed Clinton for avoiding Vietnam, but yet attacked Kerry's military record while defending Bush's joke of his national guard service.

L-girl said...

Thanks, David. I'm not saying a death can never be a positive thing for the world at large. I just won't trust the W administration's - or any government's - judgement who should be killed.

And, as James pointed out, how many others died in the process of "eliminating" this man? (Not that I'm conceding he needed to be killed, or that he couldn't have been killed years ago if that was the objective.)

Also, I remember you taking a leftwing publication to task for likening Ann Coulter to a man based on her looks and behavior.

One day you're going to remember too much about me and trip me up. :)

But seriously, sexism is sexism no matter who's dishing it out. This reminds me of something I have to post about. Thanks!

redsock said...

Cannonfire says "Given the infinitude of hoaxes which have festooned every stage of this war, we have no reason to believe a single official word" of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's most recent death.

"The slide appeared as an adjunct to the Washington Post's famous article from April 10, which described the psyop campaign to create a Zarqawi myth. ...

"Zarqawi existed solely because he fulfilled a propaganda function. Once that fact became known ... Zarqawi lost his value as bogeyman and thus had to die."

L-girl said...

"Zarqawi existed solely because he fulfilled a propaganda function. Once that fact became known ... Zarqawi lost his value as bogeyman and thus had to die."

I often wonder if Osama Bin Laden isn't really Keyser Soze from The Usual Suspects.

redsock said...

Time, June 20 2001:

That It Boy of international terror, Osama Bin Laden, is back in the news. ... In the language of advertising, Bin Laden has become a brand — a geopolitical Keyser Soze, an omnipresent menace whose very name invokes perils far beyond his capability. ...

If Bin Laden didn't exist, we'd have to invent him ...

But few serious intelligence professionals believe Bin Laden is the puppet-master atop a pyramid structure of terror cells. ...

For sheer diabolical genius (of the Hollywood variety), nothing came close to the reports that European security services are preparing to counter a Bin Laden attempt to assassinate President Bush at next month's G8 summit in Genoa, Italy. According to German intelligence sources, the plot involved Bin Laden paying German neo-Nazis to fly remote controlled-model aircraft packed with Semtex into the conference hall and blow the leaders of the industrialized world to smithereens. ...

****

[Yet the Regime said with a straight face that, good golly gosh, of course there were no reports suggesting that terrorists were planning to fly airplanes into various buildings. More reason to always believe the opposite of whatever they say.]

L-girl said...

I never saw that anywhere else, I swear! I guess many of us had the same thought.

Evydense said...

A great post, and refreshing to see this point of view expressed. It's tough living in a democracy that is defended by a military strength to not have killings, murders and that euphemistically-ugly phrase 'collateral damage' when armed forces are involved. Yet, assuming it's worth defending at all costs, how do you defend a democratic system if it's challenged with force instead of reason?

James said...

But few serious intelligence professionals believe Bin Laden is the puppet-master atop a pyramid structure of terror cells.

Bin Laden's never been at the top of an organization. Al Qaeda is often portrayed as this wide-ranging terror organization like the PLO or IRA, but it isn't -- it's more of a label. Organizationally, it's more like Star Trek fandom than anything else: you're in it if you say you're in it, and you organize your own events. Official canon comes from Paramount (or bin Laden), but he doesn't tell everyone what they're going to do.

Getting rid of bin Laden won't do anything to al Qaeda other than set off a rash of avenging bombings. The only way to stop something like al Qaeda is to take away people's reasons to join. And blowing up people left, right, and centre -- not to mention standing by while a whole country disolves into sectarian violence thanks to the US's ineptitude -- is only giving people more reasons to join.

L-girl said...

Evydense, thanks for reading and for the compliment.

It's tough living in a democracy that is defended by a military strength to not have killings, murders and that euphemistically-ugly phrase 'collateral damage' when armed forces are involved. Yet, assuming it's worth defending at all costs, how do you defend a democratic system if it's challenged with force instead of reason?

A, the US is not a currently a democracy.

B, nothing is worth defending "at all costs". Costs always have to be weighed against benefits.

C, what is the US being "defended" from here? The US is not engaged in a defensive war. They invaded and are occupying a country that did not attack them first.

D, if the US needs defending, as evidenced by the 9/11 attacks, then it should shore up all the many holes in its security that allowed the attacks to happen. But in fact, very few of them have been addressed.

What's more, there were so many holes, that it's virtually impossible to believe the US didn't fully expect and anticipate the attacks, and then use them for their own purposes. The "collateral damage" in that scenario is nearly 3,000 Americans, plus everyone who has died in the so-called war on terror, justified by those very deaths.

L-girl said...

Organizationally, it's more like Star Trek fandom than anything else: you're in it if you say you're in it, and you organize your own events. Official canon comes from Paramount (or bin Laden), but he doesn't tell everyone what they're going to do.

Love it!! James, excellent analogy. :D

Getting rid of bin Laden won't do anything to al Qaeda other than set off a rash of avenging bombings. The only way to stop something like al Qaeda is to take away people's reasons to join.

That's it in a nutshell.

Evydense said...

Your points are well taken, and don't get me wrong...I'm a pacifist myself, that's why I appreciate your point of view being expressed. My coments were intended to be more generic to western democracies rather than specific to the Iraq-Afghanistan debacle that we're currently embroiled in. I guess I was asking if we believe that a 'democracy' is, in fact, the structure we want, can it exist without a military to defend it against violent attacks? And if there is no military, will it then be more susceptible to threats? It's a bit of a Catch-22, isn't it?

redsock said...

if we believe that a 'democracy' is, in fact, the structure we want, can it exist without a military to defend it against violent attacks? And if there is no military, will it then be more susceptible to threats? It's a bit of a Catch-22, isn't it?

I don't think so. I have no problem with a democracy having a military to defend itself -- especially if it has things other countries might like to have for themselves. Although the term "defending itself" can be a very slippery slope.

There is no doubt that that military would be unrecognizable next to what the US has done/is doing.

L-girl said...

Evydense, thanks for coming back to discuss!

I'm not a pacifist myself. Although I admire the position, I don't think I could see it through. I do believe the use of force is necessary in certain situations. For example, I don't think revolutionary movements succeed without force - or at least the threat of force. I'm one of those people who believe, eg, that Martin Luther King's nonviolent protest succeeded in part because of the shadow of Malcolm X behind him.

I also think force sometimes has to be used to defend a people against an invading power.

So no, I don't think a democracy can exist without a military.

Do you? I'd like to hear your thoughts on this.

West End Bound said...

Does anyone else have the sneaking suspicion that Zarqawi was killed years ago and put "on ice" 'til the bush regime's approval numbers fell so low they had to announce some "good" news to appease the base?

Seems odd that after 1,000 pounds of explosives were dropped on a single house the body appeared in pretty good shape . . . . .

L-girl said...

Does anyone else have the sneaking suspicion that Zarqawi was killed years ago and put "on ice" 'til the bush regime's approval numbers fell so low they had to announce some "good" news to appease the base?

Yes, I think many of us share that suspicion. See Redsock's comment above:

What's funny is that there is a real good chance this guy (who the press sometimes reported had a wooden leg, sometimes didn't (as he outran US forces!)) was killed about four years ago.

You can't trust a single word that comes out of this admin.