Sunday, December 31, 2006

How Can I Keep From Singing?


First, though, let me say that I thought the Iraqi authorities had taken into consideration the timing of the festival of Eid and had taken pains to avoid having Saddam's execution desecrate a holy day. It now seems they went out of their way to do the opposite.

Mist says:

I am very happy that Saddam is dead. He was an evil man and the world is better off without him.

However, I am both furious and disgusted by the way the 'iraqi' govt. handled it. In one swoop they managed to turn it into a complete farce and rip apart Iraqi unity rather than mend past wounds.

1. Was it necessary to have a bunch of sadr street thugs carry out the execution in a dungeon looking room? Even the effin insurgents manage to do their executions in nicer environments.... and they wear matching outfits.

2. Killing him on the morning of eid to the chant of 'muqtada muqtada muqtada' was an abomination. When I saw the official execution video, I couldn't understand why they had muted the sound. But after seeing the camera phone footage, it makes sense. Nearly every Iraqi I have spoken with believes this was literally an eid gift to iran, courtesy of his willing puppet maliki.

3. And if there was ever any doubt that the dawa party and maliki weren't in bed with sadr, I think the fact that his henchmen got to execute Saddam should make it obvious to everyone.

Some of the Iraqi responses I have heard:

Many felt sorry for saddam, he looked like a helpless old man, and all those guys in masks chiding him only made it worse.

This opinion was coming from people who had family members killed by him. That is ridiculous. They all thought he needed to die, but they were all very unhappy with how it was done.

In the end, the Iraqi govt. once again proved they have no interest in Iraq and that they are completely controlled by iran. I really can't imagine why it's so hard for the US govt. to recognize and respond to this situation but we just won't.

This amounts to malignity by a theocratic state. The Americans should have refused, intervened,or done whatever it took not to play into the hands of the Iranians dressed up like Iraqis.

And here's what The Islamic Threat says about the voices you can hear on the video:

Before hanging Saddam tries to say the Shahada but the Shia followers of the religion of peace do not allow him his Shahada and drop him before he finishes. That is equivalent to preventing somebody from getting last rites. The Shias around him were chanting for Moqtada Al Sadr, their would-be dictator version of Saddam. One of the guards is begging them to stop and they insist. Then chaos insues as they apparently want to mutilate his body but they are prevented...

Again, I find the American cooperation on the timing of this, whether through ignorance or a wrong-headed (again) policy of hands-off at just the wrong moment, disturbing in the extreme.

Will our State Department ever grow up? I ask this question not knowing if Foggy Bottom was directly involved or not. If they weren't handling this momentous event then that was dereliction of duty. If they were involved and allowed the timing to be carried forward into the Eid holy period, they are either stupid or deliberately dangerous to this administration. Either way, they are as perfidious as those executioners who would not permit Saddam (former secular atheist) his final prayers.

What do you think was the most momentous event of 2006? Not counting, of course, the personally meaningful births, deaths, or other rites of passage that happen in each family. Those cannot be gainsaid.

In my country’s history March 2003 was boots-on-the-ground in Iraq. In my personal odyssey it turned out to be the final birthday of my daughter, who was to suddenly die six weeks later. As I recall, it was not a particularly happy birthday…she was rushed, and didn’t look well. But for some reason, in contrast to my usual funny cards, I had picked up a mushy, mother-daughter birthday card and tucked some money in it.

But that was three and a half timeless years ago.

Meanwhile, there is December 30, 2006. The Impending Death of a Tyrant, with all the rumors of delay, of it having already happened, of assurances it would never happen.

Perhaps it is the tendency to look at what is most recently in front of us that makes the death of Saddam Hussein seem the most important event of the year. Time fatuously made the Person of the Year for 2006, “You” - whoever that is. Had they the sense to frame it as Martin Buber’s “Thou” it might have had some resonance. But simply as “You” it becomes self-referential and essentially narcissistic.

When Tyrants Hear Their Death Knell RingingDid you watch the video of Saddam’s death? I did; so did the Baron. We discussed it at dinner, and the future Baron said he would avoid it, as he had the other grisly videos from the Middle East propaganda machine. The Baron and I demurred: sometimes it is important to bear witness. We had both forced ourselves to look at the film footage of the Jewish survivors in the camps of World War II. We would also watch the final moments of a twisted human being who had bought death, destruction, and a cruel reign to twenty five million people. Those people deserved our attention as surely as Saddam had given them his close personal scrutiny. As one visitor was told:

“You cannot imagine what it is to live like this for 20, 30 years. We have to keep up our routine lest we would lose our minds.”
- - - - - - - - - -
But I realized in every household that someone had already lost his or her mind; in other societies such a person would be in a mental hospital. I also realized that there wasn’t a household that did not mourn at least one family member who had become a victim of this police state.

I wept with relatives whose son just screamed all day long. I cried with a relative who had lost his wife. Yet another left home every day for a “job” where he had nothing to do. Still another had lost a son to war and a husband to alcoholism.

As I observed the slow death of a people without hope, Saddam Hussein seemed omnipresent. There were his statues; posters showed him with his hand outstretched or firing his rifle, or wearing an Arab headdress. These images seemed to be on every wall, in the middle of the road, in homes.

Those images are gone now. Only their nightmares and the terrorists remain. For the latter, whatever they say to the contrary, Saddam’s death is a body blow.

Even though it waited until almost the last moment of 2006, the departure from this world of a truly evil - relentlessly evil - human being is a moment to be lived in relief and wonder.

It is as though there is a black hole where once he stood.

My life flows on in endless song
Above earth’s lamentation.
I hear the real, thought far off hymn
That hails the new creation
Above the tumult and the strife,
I hear the music ringing;
It sounds an echo in my soul
How can I keep from singing?

When tyrants tremble, sick with fear,
And hear their death-knell ringing,
When friends rejoice both far and near,
How can I keep from singing?
In prison cell and dungeon vile
Our thoughts to them are winging.
When friends by shame are undefiled,
How can I keep from singing?

Ah, if just for a moment, the exultation at the cessation of evil...for a moment, you can hear "the endless song above earth's lamentation."


Epaminondas said...

The problem is not to keep from singing in this galaxy of goop-melange moral equivalence, the problem, my bard-ess...


Panday said...

I'm fairly turned off by all of the whining from European leaders and even my own Catholic Church about Saddam's execution. I wonder if they feel the same about Hitler's or Mussolini's execution.

Keeping Saddam alive would lead to more problems than his death. I could see moonbat lawsuits over interviewing him, visits by George Galloway, a "Free Saddam" a la the ghoulish "Free Mumia" movement, and Baathist renegades trying an occasional prison break or two for a propaganda coup. Now we don't have to worry about any of that.

Of course, someone will always throw down the martyrdom card, but martyrdom is vastly overrated. Head-sawing maniacs are trying to kill us all with everything at their disposal, anyway, and people were already dancing in the streets 5 years ago on 9/11. It's not as if executing Saddam is going to "enrage" the Middle East any more than it already is.

Epaminondas said...

Scott, no you are quoting Mr. Brown on the gallows.

Frank said...

I watched the video. Relatively sterile after watching the sawing off of some of the hostages.

What gives me serious pause is not the comic-opera proceedings or the sectarian chanting, or even the dungeon-like chamber he died in. What worries me is the inability of the cameraman to even videotape the thing without appearing to be dancing a hornpipe at the same time. These people can't even organize enough to take a proper video of something and we expect them to run a country?

Evanston2 said...

You know, at some point you just have to hand things over to the locals. Now is that time. Complaints about this execution are similar to those about whether Iraq recognizes Sharia (Islamic law). "Democracy" means that the people there get to choose. They're muslims. They're gonna choose Sharia, and they will also have a rather different approach to executions than Western secular or christian cultures do. Folks, Saddam is dead. He had a chance to argue that his reign of brutality was necessary. He failed. If he'd modeled his behavior on Pinochet, he'd have been a moderate hero by middle eastern standards. Instead he chose to invade his neighbors twice, kill Kurds and Shia in big batches, and terrorize his people in dribs and drabs on a daily basis. There's gonna be some bad blood after all that, and if the Iraqis lack decorum and discipline along the lines of the American military, hey, it's to be expected. Get over it. Now, let's start pulling out of all places except the air bases at Al Asad and Balad. The Sunni, Shia and Kurds can work things out like they have for thousands of years. Iraq is weak now and won't threaten its neighbors or U.S. interests for decades to come. We came, we saw, we conquered. Now time to leave the muslims to live by the sword and die by it, or choose the way of peace. Their choice.

bernie said...

I wouldn't worry about how the Iraqis will run their country, after all, three years after our Declaration of Independence we still had Tories running around looking to appease the British. There was a reason that Thomas Paine railed against the Sunshine Patriots: there were still those who doubted that democracy and freedom would succeed in the colonies.

Those who doubt the Iraqis' ability to run a democracy are the same defeatists who wanted us to kneel to King George 220 years ago.

BTW, Happy New Year to the Gatekeepers.

Mr. Spog said...

Bernie -- So, who do you think might be Saddam's equivalent in Revolutionary America, which parallels present-day Iraq so well? King George? Don't recall him feeding anyone into wood-chipping machines, attractive young women being "disappeared" into Buckingham Palace to satisfy the appetites of the Prince of Wales, etc. Oh yes, there was also a few hundred years of evolution of constitutional government underlying the American Revolution...and a society already based on the rule of law, rather than police terror...(Or was your comment intended as parody?)

Jerri Lynn Ward, J.D. said...

I have no doubt that he deserved the death penalty. However, after viewing the video and the chanting, I am convinced that those who convicted and killed him are not superior in morals.

Further, as an attorney, I am very unimpressed about an appeals system which takes such a short time to come to a decision.

My father, one of those evil oilmen, was convinced (along with many of his cohorts) that we should never have engaged in the first Gulf War. His reason? Saddam Hussein was no worse than any other Middle Eastern potentate to deal with when buying oil. In fact, some believed him to be easier to deal with.

I do not believe that he was any more brutal than the Shia whom we have given power. I believe that we have made a deal with a different kind of devil--but a devil none the less.

As far as I am concerned, none of those people deserve the sacrifice of one of our brave soldiers.

A pox on all of them!

Captain USpace said...

absurd thought -
God of the Universe wept
when Saddam was killed

he wanted him pissed on
being dragged through Baghdad

urbanadder22 said...

For us (the somewhat civilized*) killing enemies, whether in battle or by execution should be an act of necessity, not something to be relished. Yashiko Sagamori, in one of her excellent essays, likened it to issuing a parking ticket. It is something that has to be done. It need not be a public spectacle. In case of Saddam, it was necessary to show him dead, to prevent him from joining Elvis Presley, Jim Morrison, and other as one of the "un-dead."

It is necessary to kill an enemy and move on to the next one or preferably multitude of enemies.
*completely civilized cuts chances of survival

High Power Rocketry said...

: )

High Power Rocketry said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
bernie said...

Mr Spog: King George was as sadistic as Saddam. Saddam never personally had to feed anyone into a wood chipper just as King George never personnally had anyone's head scalped but he did it with others' help. Our founding fathers did not take lightly regime change and if you read the Declaration of Independence you will note that this egregiously extreme act was only undertaken because of the brutality of King George, who in Jefferson's own words was the worst.

Here is a small sampling:

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

Read the rest yourself, perhaps you won't have such a benign view of King George.