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Monday, February 28, 2005

Manufacturing Monsters

It’s great to see the Sun newspaper at it again, engaging in those activities aimed at demonising the accused to ensure the most vindictive of punishments, that only perfidious Albion is the world’s supreme expert at. While Slobo Milosevic gets a protective glass bullet-proof cell in court, it looks like despite the palace setting Saddam will have to make do with an animal-cage, because after all, that is what he is.

Why is it that practices which wouldn’t be stomached in U.S or British courtrooms (or maybe they would, particularly in the States?), often end up being carried out by authorities of the same countries abroad, with impunity? If this really is true, then it is nothing but a stunt, to make the evil dictator look, well, evil, as though that were necessary. Those of us with long enough memories, remember the same newspaper printing a load of tosh during the first Gulf War escapade, about how Saddam and son Uday enjoyed watching ‘reality’ snuff-movies in their spare time (snuff movies were all the rage, in fact, in England). Then there was that dubious claim by a girl who turned out to be a member of the Kuwaiti Royal Family, claiming that Saddam’s soldiers had thrown babies out of incubators in the local maternity ward.

Before anyone jumps on their high-horse and starts accusing me of being a namby-pamby liberal, left-leaning-lily-livered pansy or anything else to that effect, let me come clean and tell you that I am all for Saddam and cohorts being ousted. I am not for demonising the man in a degrading fashion that adds to the distastefulness of the whole issue, on top of the impression it gives (of blatant hypocrisy) to those who hail from the Arab world. In the case of Slobodan Milosevic, the sanitized cell in The Hague courtroom sends a clear message to those observing – that his life, and therefore his human rights, are protected. The bullet-proofing is primarily designed to protect him, in other words to stop others getting in, whilst in the case of Saddam, this blockbuster-movie-style-cage business is to stop him (the animal) – getting out. These sorts of stories don’t help relations between the West and the Middle East. For your information guys, Saddam Hussein was, and still is revered by many in that region – and evil dictator though he may be, he deserves as does Milosevic, treatment with modest dignity.

One cannot also help but see the racial connotations here also, intended or not, John Walker Lindh, the “American Taleban” was shipped straight to a (presumably decent) American mainland penitentiary, whilst everyone else – mainly darkies, got an open air cage and an orange jump-suit in Guantanamo Bay. Has it not come to anyone’s attention that the vile Abu Al-Zarqawi makes a point of cladding all his hostages in orange garb before caging them for international television snapshots? This kind of cheap, evil, idiotic stunt works in the Middle-East because as far as a lot of people are concerned their folks are getting unfairly treated the same by your folks.

The American prison system has a fine, fair and appropriate way of shackling and transporting dangerous criminals of the Saddam ilk as does the British system. In the States the prisoner is shackled arm and ankle with further chain-links to a waistband. In the UK shackling murderous mullah to a prison guard is preferred; presumably, if there is any funny business then the screw gets it in the neck. What’s wrong with Saddam getting similar treatment? In fact, no-one saw any need for a cage the last time he was paraded for the press, ranting like the madman that he is, and for a while (shudder), the hole-dwelling-prick was even un-shackled.

I have no doubts that the U.S. is at it as well, but most of my experience has been of the U.K. way of making the bad look worse. There was a recent case of a couple of hoods being wrongfully jailed for murder in which if I remember correctly, there was a fabrication pertaining to the fact that their “gang” was so audacious it named itself the “Legal & General” (the name of a well-known insurance firm). It turned out that the whole thing was balderdash, there was no gang, let alone one called Legal & General, but one of the said crooks was at least honest enough to keep on reiterating not only his innocence of that particular crime, but the fact that he considered he was paying for the other crimes that no-one knew of. Odious, yet gallant.

This “pumping-up” of the criminal, a practice which means that the dribbling crip, Ronnie Biggs, is driven from Belmarsh Prison to court hearings in a police motorcade, may in the short-term serve its purpose, but in the longer term is always a mistake. Perhaps in the case of Saddam, the reason why the coalition may feel it has to do this is something to do with the fact that there are several ‘evil’ dictators all over the shop, and to try Saddam for his many evildoings alone is not enough, the man has to be made into a right-real-great-big-hoofing monster.

This particular argument holds sway with me for one. The last time I gave it a peek the rulers of Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Zaire, parts of Nigeria and several other countries, many of whom do business with coalition countries, are just as good at hacking off limbs, and oftentimes heads as Saddam himself was.

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