Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Blog Banter: Andrew Sullivan, Abu Ghraib, Nick Berg and the Escalation of Violence - In his justifiable outrage at the grotesque and horrifying public beheading of Nick Berg, Andrew Sullivan calls for an escalation of the propaganda war. I replied to Andrew by sending him this email:

LETTER: Show the Pictures and Watch the Escalation.

Andrew - While I do not necessarily disagree with the release of all images of horror in order to put these abominations into some sort of comparable context, I am very much disturbed and worried by the effect of such acts and the motivations for your calling for this display of a violence-in-the-media free-for-all. It seems to me that we need to be careful of playing one-upsmanship with regard to violence. The murderers that beheaded Nick Berg, in the words of one of my hometown's famous chefs, "kicked it up a notch" and used Abu Ghraib as the excuse for doing so. Now, in the wake of this unfathomable public decapitation horror, we will have U.S. citizens who were once queasy about Abu Ghraib, now frothing at the mouth and calling for the heads of Iraqi POWs on a platter - no matter their innocence or their harmlessness in captivity. It seems to me that the intention of your call to grisly voyeurism is not to create perspective to eliminate the need for atrocities and inhumanities, but rather to desensitize us to the "lesser" cruelties of Abu Ghraib to the point where we perhaps may justify and tolerate it with a wink and a nod -- raising the bar for what is considered "acceptable" levels of abominations. Such grisly voyeurism demands the escalation of "bigger and better" brutality. And in the justifiable outrage you feel at the moment, I think you are unwittingly and unthinkingly walking this dangerous path.
I am more and more worried by all this killing and violence. I'd welcome your thoughts.

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