Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Okay.. so *thats* what you call torture??

So That’s what you call torture?

Okay, forgive me if I seem insensitive on this, but my big problem is that I watched the full video of the Nicholas Berg execution BEFORE looking at the pictures of the abuse at Abu Ghraib.

In that video I saw 4 minutes of dissertation in Arabic, while Mr. Berg knelt blindfolded and bound in front of his 5 assassins.

Side thought - I wish there were a less respectful term for the 5 butchers of Nicholas Berg, "assassins" conjures images of a slick James Bond-type working on behalf of King and Country, or even John Wilkes Booth, who-although cowardly and fanatical- had a conviction in his beliefs and was fully prepared to die defending those beliefs.... these scum didn't show their faces, never faced their victim like men, and are the most cowardly excuses of human beings ever laid onto videotape.

As the video proceeded, the collected butchers shifted their weight in a couldn't-care-less, let's-get-on-with-this attitude of impatience and casualness, as if slaughtering a human being was just one more thing on their list of chores for the afternoon. When the diminutive speaker had finished reading from his prepared speech, Nicholas Berg was kicked onto his side and wrestled to a prone position like a sheep to be sheared. Considering that Mr. Berg's hands and feet were bound, this showed incredible strength and ability on the behalf of the Arabs (/sarcasm.) I then expected to see some large machete, sword, or other sizable blade come forth for the execution. After all, even in brutality, some things like expedience are expected. Didn't you see the movie "Anna and the King" where Tip Tum and Lun Tha are disposed of?

Not in this case. The butchers took a small knife, no more than 8 inches long and cut repeatedly into the neck of their victim as he struggled under the scrum of murderers. The slaughter was time consuming, and anything but swift. The carving of flesh in this video makes the guillotine seem blissfully humane. Behind his mask, Nicholas Berg struggled for what must have seemed an eternity in the dark for his life, for freedom, for release... The very same freedom, he and other Americans and Brits had brought to millions of Iraqis. Now he was giving his life so that others would have a better one. In the video, his struggle is a morbid gyration of stretching, crawling, twisting to get away from his captors as they continue to puncture and carve at his throat. As he stretched his neck forward, in the classic move of struggle, the Arabs would once again slash at the open and vulnerable flesh beneath the chin. He was still alive while the massive puddle of blood amassed beneath him. I must honestly say that I am unaware if there was a "Perseus holding the head of Medusa" pose in the video (a-la the Daniel Pearl execution), I couldn't watch that far into the video. A man, bound and blindfolded, struggling and writhing in a pool of his own blood as his life was slipping away from him in the most brutal display of inhumanity was too much to take.

I imagine the description I have written has made your stomach turn, which was its intent. You see... I know many of you will never see the video, and will be blissfully unaware of the horrific images. Just as many have never seen, or have conveniently forgotten the images of individuals intentionally jumping out an 80th story window to escape being burned alive in a pool of aircraft fuel on September 11th.

Those images are just too much for us to comprehend and assimilate. So we ignore them.
But we can't ignore them!!!!!
Not when we think that some pictures from an Iraqi prison (that contain little more offensiveness than a fraternity hazing) are somehow worthy of the intense focus they have been given.

To look at Abu Ghraib in such light of condemnation while we forget the hell that Nicholas Berg went through, or Daniel Pearl, or the 4 contractors who were beaten and burned - their bodies hung from a traffic bridge... is uncalled for, illogical, and shameful.

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