Friday, December 29, 2006
Don't turn on the television this weekend
I made the mistake of channel surfing this morning and stumbled across MSNBC where it was all about the death watch for Sadam Hussein....in fact, it seems that all the cable news channels are working themselves up into a frenzy waiting breathlessly for news of Saddams death, and, if they're really, really lucky..PICTURES...still is okay but video? It's NETWORK all over again. Paddy Chaefsky would be amazed.
I'm not going to defend the SOB. He was probably as evil as any dictator in modern times, (and that includes the SOB or all SOBs, PINOCHET, who escaped the hangman's noose only by old age and who is so revered by the right wing) but his execution brings out the worst in us as both a nation and as individuals.
As a nation, can we absolve ourselves of the responsibility for supporting Saddam and becoming his enabler during the Iran/Iraq wars? Can we absolve ourselves for selling him the weapons that he used to commit his crimes? Or, worst of all, can we conviently forget that we encouraged the Shiia to rebel against him in 1991 and then refused to intercede with the no-fly zone while Saddam's helicopters butchered them while we watched on our radar screens and satellite photos?
As individuals we can't seem to tear ourselves away from the morbid curiousity of the hanging...to the old days of making public executions a civic spectacle...it's like Oprah gone bad or more likely, like the "ultimate Jerry Springer Show". I'm disappointed that there isn't a massive public uprising against the shallow, tawdry coverage of this event.
I also have to question the political/practical wisdom of executing Saddam. The man was a hero to a pretty large segment (20-25% or so) of the Iraqi population. Is making him a martyr a good idea?
I guess I'm not totally alone in these thoughts. Take a look at what Josh Marshall over at TALKING POINTS MEMO has to say:
This whole endeavor, from the very start, has been about taking tawdry, cheap acts and dressing them up in a papier-mache grandeur -- phony victory celebrations, ersatz democratization, reconstruction headed up by toadies, con artists and grifters. And this is no different. Hanging Saddam is easy. It's a job, for once, that these folks can actually see through to completion. So this execution, ironically and pathetically, becomes a stand-in for the failures, incompetence and general betrayal of country on every other front that President Bush has brought us.
and also another snip:
Marx might say that this was not tragedy but farce. But I think we need to get way beyond options one and two even to get close to this one -- claptrap justice meted out to the former dictator in some puffed-up act of self-justification as the country itself collapses in the hands of the occupying army.
Marty Peretz, with some sort of projection, calls any attempt to rain on this parade "prissy and finicky." Myself, I just find it embarrassing. This is what we're reduced to, what the president has reduced us to. This is the best we can do. Hang Saddam Hussein because there's nothing else this president can get right.
What do you figure this farce will look like 10, 30 or 50 years down the road? A signal of American power or weakness? (additional emphasis mine)
I wish I was that articulate. Josh echoes my disgust and gives it a much, much clearer voice that I have been able to do in this post. To prevent going into a rage and irritating everybody around me (only my long-suffering spouse at the moment) I will keep the television off or maybe only watch DVDs for the rest of the day....I'd stay with The Weather Channel but I'm afraid even they will break in with a report on the weather forcast for the execution..