Skip to comments.Spare us the pity for Iraq's ex-tyrant (some beautiful liberal-slamming from foreign press)
Posted on 12/17/2003 8:21:41 AM PST by dead
Even the good news for so many can be carved into a plateful of spin, says Miranda Devine.
I am all for compassion and pity but what kind of message is the Vatican sending about mass-murdering dictators? Reuters reported yesterday the words of Cardinal Renato Martino, head of the Vatican's Justice and Peace department, on seeing footage of Iraq's former tyrant Saddam Hussein being examined by a US doctor. "I felt pity to see this man destroyed, [the military] looking at his teeth as if he were a cow. They could have spared us these pictures."
Did I miss the electrodes attached to Saddam's testicles, bamboo sticks under his fingernails?
In fact, the pictures Martino would have spared us showed the unkempt ex-dictator welcoming the expert attentions of his latex-gloved US doctor. On the two-minute video aired after his arrest on Sunday by US troops, Saddam is seen obligingly opening his mouth, parting his own hair to let the medico have a closer look at whatever might be nesting in the matted mess.
He even offered up his jaw for examination, feeling around with his fingers for what may have been swollen lymph glands. After months on the run, the once-dapper despot with a hygiene fetish was probably keen for a body overhaul.
Less saintly people than Martino might look at Saddam and feel pity, not for him, but for the voiceless thousands he and his regime pals tortured, shot, gassed and buried in mass graves.
After all, being videotaped with a tongue depressor in your mouth seems less grim than being hung upside down and beaten on the soles of your feet, or having bits of your body cut off, or just living each day in fear of capricious arrest.
There were so many ways for a person to be "destroyed" in Saddam's Iraq.
Of course, Martino wasn't the only one with a surreal take on Saddam's arrest. From Bayview, the former NSW Liberal Party president John Valder wrote a letter to this newspaper on Monday: "Saddam Hussein captured. Bush next?"
It is awe-inspiring how many ways the anti-Bush, anti-Howard, anti-war crowd can spin bad news. No matter what good happens in Iraq, they moan about petrol queues. Saddam is caught and they focus on car bombings. Where is Osama bin Laden, they cry? Mass graves? Humph, they say: Saddam was just taking orders from the CIA.
A talkback radio caller on Monday didn't believe the dirty old guy who had been captured was Saddam, because she had personally inspected the photos in the newspaper and found the eyebrows were too bushy. You can't believe DNA tests, she said, because the Yanks are liars.
Hyper-cynicism is the gloom merchants' last line of defence, if changing the subject, shifting the blame and moral equivalence don't work against inconvenient evidence that damns their attempts to keep Saddam in power.
Sometimes enthusiasm for cynicism is farcical, such as in the story of the plastic turkey. The evil moron Bush had shown courage and commitment to the troops in Iraq by flying in to share Thanksgiving dinner with them. The troops cheered and hollered. There was a photo of a beaming Bush holding a platter of golden turkey, surrounded by a sea of appreciative khaki. Here was a story crying out for negative spin.
So the story spread around the globe that Bush was holding a plastic turkey, a fake bird that symbolised his presidency, even though, as the Washington Post reported two weeks ago, the turkey was a real, dressed turkey on display at the front of the mess hall, in accordance with US Army custom.
The Australian's Phillip Adams and the Herald's Alan Ramsey were the most gung-ho local propagators of the myth. Adams devoted an entire column to it: "It was a prop turkey, a pretend turkey ... the President had taken a plastic turkey - one used for gourmet magazine shoots - to the mess hall."
Who cares about facts, as long as you turn a positive for Bush into a negative?
But it's harder to apply negative spin to those jubilant Iraqis, rifles in the air, ululating, dancing for joy, from Auburn to Baghdad, at the news of Saddam's capture.
Iraqi refugee Guzin Najim, whose husband was murdered by Saddam's intelligence agents, wept for joy on Sunday night in her south-west Sydney apartment. Saturday marked the first anniversary of her husband's death and she had been inconsolable most of the weekend.
Sunday night she was in bed, having cried herself to sleep, when her son Mohammed, 23, burst in to tell her the news.
"It was the first time in eight years I saw a big smile on his face," she said yesterday. "I ran and I sat on the floor in front of CNN. We cried. We cried with joy."
In the book about her escape from Iraq, The Promise, by Sandra Lee, Najim tells of the day her husband was taken for questioning to the office of the Saddam minister Tariq Aziz before being dispatched to intelligence headquarters. He was deposited home, unable to walk, feverish. He had been poisoned, and took agonising days to die.
"There was always a fear that maybe Saddam will come back," said Najim. "Today the Iraqi people feel free."
If you are open-minded, there are good signs democracy is taking root in Iraq, despite the problems. Just look at the proliferation of newspapers, free to publish what they like.
"The capture of Saddam is another window of hope for a clean Iraq," editorialised the independent daily Al-Zaman. "[An Iraq] swimming in sunshine and far away from a dark past crowded by the dungeons of the secret services in which hundred of thousands of Iraqis have disappeared because of a word or a whisper or an opposing view."
The news on Sunday from Afghanistan was good, too. On the same day Saddam was captured, the loya jirga, or grand assembly, opened in Kabul "amid high hopes it will produce a constitution and permanent government and pave the way for political stability and security", reported Knight-Ridder.
Whatever your position on the war, surely it is better to will Iraq and Afghanistan to succeed than hope for the worst just to prove a point.
Maybe they mean "Kobi beef" type cows. I understand those are pretty well treated.
Latest subject for "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy"?
That's what it's all about, folks!
What the heck is up with the Vatican these days?
Some guy, who claimed to be a "historian" (Weintraub was his last name, I think) was on Hannity and Puke saying how terrible it was of us to show Saddam in such a humiliating way. That we were putting it in the face of the Arabs of the world.
He also said we should not have shown the pictures of dead Uday and Qusay either. We should have brought in some "respected" Arab leader that the Arab masses would believe, show him the bodies and the living Saddam, and let him spread the word that the brothers were dead and Saddam in captivity..... Yeah, right, that would work.
These nuts are delusional.
And in fairness to Puke, I think he actually did NOT agree with the guest they had on, but I always tune him out when watching, so I may have been mistaken or dreaming or something.......
They hate that their CiC is under constant attack.
I would surmise that the Vatican is trying to send a very old message that most people on the planet seem unable to grasp.
"That which you do unto the least of my brothers, you do unto me."
I do not defend Sadaam or his ilk, nor am able to forgive him as Jesus would have...but the message is valid if we would have ourselves deemed worthy to dwell in the house of the Lord.
Well, dressing him up in that crusty black pants-suit WAS a bit much.
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