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Monday, January 01, 2007

Thoughts on Two Videos

If I were asked to chose between execution and life in prison I would, of course, chose the latter. It’s better to live somehow than not at all.
Anton Pavlovich Chekhov (1860–1904)

Years ago, after some personal deliberation, Porcupine chose to view the video of Daniel Pearl being behaded by Taliban members as a warning to both reporters and Jews that Afghanistan was no place for them.

It seemed in advance like a 'snuff' film, but Porcupine was glad that he did watch it. Mr. Pearl died in a state of panic, hoping against hope as he parroted anti-Semitic rants that his captors might decide to trade him or keep him. It was not to be, and as they displayed his head triumphantly, Porcupine realized the actuality of the new enemy that we had to confront. Mr. Pearl and his family has remained in his prayers.

It took only hours, not days, to view the videos of Saddam Hussein's execution. It is the same gallows where Hussein had his own enemies hanged. Disbelief is manifest in his face as the rope is placed around his neck, after a cloth is placed there to prevent rope burn (A courtesy he extended, I wonder?). Unlike Mr. Pearl, there are no tears, there is no terror. As the hangman prepares to pull the lever to open the trap-door, Saddam chants the Muslim profession of faith. “God is Great and Mohammed is his prophet. Palestine is Arab.”

His last words are: “I bear witness that Mohammed . . . ”. It is the beginning of the second verse of the invocation, but before Hussein can complete it the executioner sends him hurtling to his death.

He died instantly, as his neck snapped. His eyes remain open, and he seems surprised, unlike Mr. Pearl whose head was slowly sliced from his body before being held aloft for the videocameras. Porcupine has heard criticism of his executioners suggesting that he proceed to Hell, or that the spectators were too enthusiastic at the death. The dictator was condemned by the Iraqui courts, executed by Iraqui guards, and died for killing Iraquis. Our standards of appropriateness are not really at issue here, but Porcupine would suggest that compared to Mr. Pearl his end was peaceful, and well deserved.

Many Iraquis feared that he would be acquitted or would escape. Many Sunnis were still 'fighting the good fight' in his name. Now, as they likely vanish into Turkey, perhaps the year-old government of Iraq can put the Hussein era behind them and begin to take over the reins of their own destiny, allowing our own troops to being to leave in an orderly fashion.

Hussein and his work is buried now, along with his horrific sons Uday and Qu'say. Mr. Pearl remains among the missing.

The video is below for any who wish to see it.


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