Monday, April 05, 2004

OpinionJournal - Fallujah Response:"Lynching is deliberate. It is opportunistic rather than purely spontaneous, and it has a clear intent: to insult, to challenge and to frighten the enemy, and to excite and enlist allies. The mutilation and public display of bodies follows a distinct pattern. The victims are members of a despised Other, who are held in such contempt that they are considered less than human. Respectful treatment of the dead is the norm in all societies, and a tenet of all religions. Publicly flouting such basic dignities is a communal expression of hatred designed to insult and frighten. Display of the mutilated remains must be as public as possible. In Fallujah they were strung high from a bridge. In Mogadishu, where there were no central squares or bridges, the bodies were dragged through the streets for hours. The crowd, no matter how enraged, welcomes the camera--Paul Watson, a white Canadian journalist, moved unharmed with his through the angry mobs in Mogadishu on Oct. 4, 1993. The idea is to spread the image. Cameras guarantee the insult will be heard, seen and felt. The insult and fear are spread across continents.
The other message at a lynching isn't as obvious. It is also an appeal. It is a demonstration of potency designed to sway and embolden those who are sympathetic but fearful. It says, Look what we can get away with! Look what we can do! The sheer horror asserts the determination of the rebel faction, and underlines the seriousness of the choice it demands from its own community. It draws a line in the sand; it is a particularly graphic way of saying, You are either for us or against us. With the potential for further such atrocities afoot, critics of the rebels are frightened into silence and acquiescence.
It is a mistake to conclude that those committing such acts represent a majority of the community. Just"

I've had several very superficial posts today, so thought I'd throw in a pretty powerful political one. Read this whole thing by Mark Bowden, the author of Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War. This is a powerful piece that expresses things much more strongly than I can.

Also, say a prayer that the military finds ways to deal with this weekend's events in Iraq without things spiraling out of control, and that maybe, just maybe, the media can shut up for once and let them do their job. (Wishful thinking, I know)

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