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Thursday, June 24, 2004


I agree with Juan Cole's opinion on the beheadings:
I don't think a lot of press attention should be given to the capture and killing of a single hostage, since the whole point of the captors is to generate such attention. I think the big stories on Tuesday were the killing of 2 more US troops near Balad and the airstrike on Fallujah. The beheading creates a lurid interest, but it doesn't matter to a dead person how he was killed. And, no, beheading has nothing special to do with Islam, it is just grisly and a good tool for terrorists.
The Bill O'Reillys and Senators Inhofe of the wingnut right seem to think that the beheadings justify all manner of bombing and torture on our part. But as Juan said, it has nothing special to do with Islam; in fact, there have been at least three beheadings here in the U.S. in the same time period: A New Jersey man beheaded his grandmother and ex-girlfriend on June 8, and on June 13 a 91-year-old screenwriter was beheaded in Los Angeles, allegedly by a 27-year-old homeless man.

Beheadings are in our popular culture as well. In the movie "Crazy in Alabama" Melanie Griffith's character beheads her husband, and in the Fox TV show "24" hero Jack Bauer beheads a low-life crook, who was going to squeal on his criminal accomplices, so that he (Jack) can infiltrate those same accomplices. (I'll confess that I'm a big fan of both "Crazy in Alabama" and "24.") Americans do whacked-out brutal stuff to each other all the time, both in reality and in fiction; pretending that those Ay-rabs are barbarians because a few have chosen beheading as a way to get attention is hypocritical in the extreme.