Apr 18, 2012

Suicide bomber photos - why it's OK

The world was appalled recently by American soldiers posing for pictures with body parts of an Afghan suicide bomber. My military friends on Facebook have a very different view:

FACEBOOK FRIEND: Well, it seems our soldiers have posed with dead suicide bombers....now we have done it! Gone and offended more appeasers! What were we thinking? Maybe if we promise to go into battle without weapons they will forgive us....There is one good thing about those pictures. All the folks watching reality shows will now know what dead people look like close up. I wonder if the ass clowns in the media noticed that there were Afghani police posing as well. As with the Belambai shooter, unless it's us burning the Koran, nobody cares.

The suicide bombers were less valued than a dog or a cow. LIFE HAS NO VALUE TO THESE PEOPLE. Last year, a 12 year old girl was brutally raped near my firebase. The rapists then sliced her femoral artery so she would die. We tried to save her, but she died. If she would have lived, SOMEONE in her family would have killed her anyway for being raped. This culture is sick, we are fighting savages, and for some of us, we can switch it on and off. When we happen to do something that some folks would consider savage, the whole world blows up. The media prints ANYTHING that undermines America. Posing with a leg or two is very lame compared to what they do to our dead. Even after seeing the news media shit on our country for my whole adult life, I still can't figure out why they hate us so much.

RICK: I'm sure you're right that there are abuses on the Afghani side that go unmentioned in the press. But that doesn't diminish what the pictures demonstrate. It's the dehumanization that's so shocking. Those pictures, and even some of your words, make it sound like these human beings are being treated as less than human (both by soldiers and, based on what you've written, by some of their own people). SOME of them may be acting like "savages", some of them may have been brought to the point where they feel like "life has no value", but that does not take away our moral imperative to treat all humans as people.

I'm not talking about whether it's right or wrong to punish, or defend/protect, etc. I'm not excusing the destruction that the suicide bomber caused, nor diminishing that tragedy. But that bomber was still a human, still had a mother, still loved someone sometime in his life. You can do your duty and what you feel is necessary without denying that. As a Quaker I'm committed to trying to see and reach "that of God in everyone". I believe that most religions, including Islam and Christianity, teach a similar message. And that probably most people who don't subscribe to a particular religion would probably agree too. As a civilian I can only imagine how challenging that would be when faced with a suicide bomber or some of the other people you have to deal with. I've been just robbed or threatened and had a very tough (OK, unsuccessful) time trying to still feel any compassion, and that's nothing compared to what you experience over there. So I'm not trying to be holier than thou here, just trying to explain or explore why we the public are having such a reaction to this.

ANOTHER FRIEND: Anyone that believes that there is humanity in theses people obviously has not been in a life or death position fighting against them. These people are not godly, they are savages hands down and the only thing they understand is pure violence. We need to take the fight to them in as brutal way as we have taken it to the Germans and the Japanese. Burn em to the ground and piss on their ashes.

If these men were let loose in your neighborhood, a mugging is nbothing compared to the atrocities they would unleash on you and your loved ones. You would be placed on your knees in front of a camera trying to "touch their humanity" as they used a dull machette to remove your head.

RICK: Yes, I fully agree that I have not experienced what you guys have. And in the heat of a life-and-death battle you can't afford to feel compassion like I can in the luxury of my Canadian farmhouse. But D__, if they could see your posting - "Burn em to the ground and piss on their ashes." - they would likely say that you are "are savages hands down and the only thing they understand is pure violence." And yet I know M__'s goodness and believe in yours, so why can't I equally believe in theirs? If I can hear these violent, savage words from you and yet still believe in your innate goodness, your love for your family and country, your belief that what you are fighting for is Right, then why can't I believe the same that for the people on the other side of this war?

FRIEND: I do not kill little girls or wish for the death of the innocent. I am not saying you are wrong, I am saying your faith is grossly misplaced in these people.

ANOTHER FRIEND: I pose with a deer when I kill it what is the difference?Oh yeah I feel bad for the deer.How can you respect a chain of thought that says you can kill people that don't think like you.The same way I got respect from a bully in school.I beat them into my way of thinking.It is amazing who will become your friend if you hit him hard enough.

These people are schooled from the age of 5 to be killers of infidels. That means everyone who is not musllim. Even if they had loved ones, they have surrendered any decency and humanity they have. If you have a rabid dog, you have to kill it. These folks are rabid dogs. Rick, I respect your opinion and I am thankful there are people like you. Folks who want to see good in everything and so on. I just have to deal with reality. That reality is we have a religion in the world (Islam) that has been hijacked by radicals. They want us all either to submit or die. They cannot be reasoned with. We will have trouble visited upon us from them through the years. It is a tall order to kill them all, but I will try to facilitate that. I will either be on the trigger myself, or will find them so someone else can be on the trigger. Our government is useless due to political correctness, and I'm just tired of all the apologizing to Islam. I would just say, "Yeah, the Son of a Bitch blew himself up." He looks kind of stupid. And by the way, I think we will be coming after the rest of you. We will fast rope onto your house, and put a bullet in your brain. We could care less if your woman or your goat gets scared. We don't care what border you are behind. If country X doesn't want us there, by all means, hand the SOB over, you have 6 hours. Right now, we actually knock on the door and ask to come in. Not smart. We, the military, have been castrated by politically correct politicians.

ANOTHER FRIEND: They kill themselves to fight the war of propaganda, therefore taking pictures of their pieces/parts really should not be offensive as it helps their hellish agenda's.... Tired of pandering to the people that can't stomach the truth... Kill em all and let God sort 'em out.


  1. Strangely enough I disagree with you Rick. I find it appalling that so much care is supposed to be given the bodies of fallen fighters when so little care has been given to common people by the military machine that thought this war was the right and just way to solve the problem of terrorism. Thousands upon thousands of dead civilians had their bodies torn to pieces in a war that had nothing to do with them at all. Are we weeping for them? Do they get press?

    The Light is no longer in those bodies, it has been extinguished.

    The actions of the soldiers are a logical extension of the barbaric things they are required to do every day. It's like the case of American soldiers urinating on the bodies of people who had been trying to kill them. That seems to me an entirely understandable action. The guy going crazy and shooting a bunch of people. Again, that's what war does to people. Who's surprised?

    The question I think we should be asking is why are the bodies of dead combatants so important and why can we not allow our soldiers do what comes naturally? First, the Military Machine does not want us to think it turns our young people into monsters or emotional cripples. That's why it brushes PSD under the rug. Second, the culture of militarism demands that we honour the bodies of combatants in order to make the barbarism of war appear honourable. If soldiers stopped believing that, they'd go crazy. If people stopped believing that, we'd have no army to begin with.

    I say, hold the bodies up high, Soldier. Show everyone how accustomed you have become to horror. Weirdly enough, you are the one speaking truth here.

    1. Frank, I don't think we disagree at all; I think it's what I was trying to say all along. That these soldiers have been trained to think that the enemy are inhuman savages - indeed, it's the only way the can survive and do their job, otherwise the cognitive dissonance would make them go crazy. The photos or urinating or shootings are, as you say, just an extension of that mindset that makes them effective soldiers.

      I was trying to share with these friends how different this all looks to someone who hasn't had to stop seeing people that way. And trying to express it from a place of compassion for these men - on both sides - who have had some of their humanity extinguished.

    2. Rick thanks for engaging in this discussion. I am currently in Kabul working for a humanitarian organization and the dissonance is really stark for me some days just trying to make any sort of contribution toward transformation here. Its really something that both worlds can exist simultaneously, the mad max polarized evil vs. good-fight to the death and the humanitarian side trying to mitigate the effects of this dualistic view. I work with Afghans who have a deep humanity and sincere desire to have Islam direct all their paths to the betterment of humanity. I grieve that violence fragments the human heart so as to dehumanize the other and shuts down imagining a different kind of world.

      I think the visionaries of another kind of world must keep compassion even in the face of 'real politik.' Love is the only force more powerful than the force these soldiers are use to.