Monday, March 27, 2006

Oh the humanity

It is very difficult to justify the mass slaughter of human beings, unless they are somehow dehumanized. So, as more and more Iraqis continue to be murdered in Iraq--the vast majority of these killings are not the direct result of American action, although we certainly paved the way--one way war proponents can continue to support our decision to go into Iraq is through thoughts such as the following by the National Review's John Derbyshire:
We don't particularly care whether the Sunnis, Shias and Kurds of Iraq put down their arms. We only want them to put down their arms against us ... One doesn't want to be accused of inhuman callousness; but I am willing to confess, and believe I speak for a lot of [To Hell with Them Hawks] (and a lot of other Americans, too), that the spectacle of Middle Eastern Muslims slaughtering each other is one that I find I can contemplate with calm composure.
Thanks to the reporting of the New York Times's superb Jeffrey Gettleman, we know that Iraqis are human, too, and in many ways, no different from us.
Mohannad al-Azawi had just finished sprinkling food in his bird cages at his pet shop in south Baghdad, when three carloads of gunmen pulled up. In front of a crowd, he was grabbed by his shirt and driven off.

Mr. Azawi was among the few Sunni Arabs on the block, and, according to witnesses, when a Shiite friend tried to intervene, a gunman stuck a pistol to his head and said, "You want us to blow your brains out, too?"

Mr. Azawi's body was found the next morning at a sewage treatment plant. A slight man who raised nightingales, he had been hogtied, drilled with power tools and shot.


Mr. Azawi was the youngest of five brothers. He was 27 and lived with his parents. He loved birds since he was a boy. Nightingales were his favorite. Then canaries, pigeons and doves.

During Saddam Hussein's reign, he was drafted into the army, but he deserted.

"He was crazy about birds," said a Shiite neighbor, Ibrahim Muhammad.

A few years ago, Mr. Azawi opened a small pet shop in Dawra, a rough-and-tumble, mostly Shiite neighborhood in southern Baghdad.

Friends said that Mr. Azawi was not interested in politics or religion. He never went to the Sunni mosque, though his brothers did. He did not pay attention to news or watch television. This characteristic might have cost him his life.

On Feb. 22, the Askariya Shrine in Samarra was attacked at 7 a.m. But Mr. Azawi did not know what had happened until 4 p.m., his friends said. He was in his own little world, tending his birds, when a Shiite shopkeeper broke the news and told him to close. He stayed in his house for three days after that. His friends said he was terrified.


At 9:16 PM, Blogger Pete said...

A superb contrast, DA.

You are right. Dehumanizing the opponent seems to be a prerequisite for genocide or civil war. ...

It reminds me of Hotel Rwanda, when the Hutu majority continually relegated the minority to the status of "cockroaches."

Then they butchered children with machetes.

While on some level, the Iraqis need to clean up their own mess, it the National Review excerpt you posted is appalling because it seems to absolve the U.S. role in creating the power vaccuum and ensuing chaos.


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