The Blanket

Weighing the Outrage

Danielle Ni Dhighe • 13 May 2004

I viewed the full video of the beheading of Nick Berg yesterday. It was disturbing to watch a man's head being sliced off and held up for all to see. There was no justification for the act, not even the disgusting and systemic abuse being meted out to prisoners in Abu Ghraib and elsewhere by coalition forces.

The rhetoric from the White House that the perpetrators "have no regard for the lives of innocent men, women and children" was hard to stomach. Was it not the White House which lied and manipulated its way into a war where nearly 10,000 Iraqi civilians (a.k.a. "innocent men, women and children") have been killed?

Predictably, some US politicians attempted to use what happened to Berg to justify the abuse in Abu Ghraib. Perusing some internet message boards, I found too many people who agreed with those sentiments, which I have no doubt are based on prejudice against Arabs and Muslims (somehow the bigots overlooked that Muslim organisations and clerics worldwide have condemned the killing of Berg).

In closing, I didn't find the Berg video to be more disturbing than, say, footage I've seen from the Vietnam "police action" of burned children fleeing a napalmed village. The outrage over Berg's death shouldn't outweigh the outrage over the deaths of thousands of Iraqi civilians during this occupation or the abuse of prisoners -- or the millions of deaths historically attributed to western imperialism and its clients.




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