The Wicked Witch Is Dead. Maybe.
We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office. ─ Aesop
There’s nothing quite like a public hanging to brace the spirits and fortify a sense of moral rectitude. The days are long gone when engraved invitations were sent out for the executions of the famous but the uniquely barbarous exhibition didn’t disappear because it failed to draw enthusiastic crowds. Official hangings are now private or unknown not for lack of popularity, but out of a sort of institutional embarrassment at such shocking violence.
The Middle East is the last refuge of the ever popular, but now almost unknown spectacle. The Imams in Iran reportedly hanged a 16-year old girl in 2004 for “An Act of Immorality,” presumably the obvious one. A couple of teenage boys met the same fate for an alleged homosexual rape. The barbarism of publicly hanging children is offered to us as one of many reasons Iran would be better off liberated by the U.S. Army. It makes a strong argument.
Then suddenly, as if to show the Muslims that Uncle Sam won’t be topped, his puppets in Iraq treat us to what is perhaps the first world-wide public hanging, that of Saddam Hussein. You can see it on the internet. What a wonderful thing is modern communication technology.
Without the daily Iraq fear mongering here in Central America I read about it in a Spanish language newspaper the day after it happened. There was a picture on the page right out of the American West. A hooded guy was snuggling down the absurdly large “necktie” that he had just thrown over Hussein’s head. Frontier justice dished out for all the world to see, courtesy of the Unitary Decider.
Something scratched at the back of my mind, however. It was the single theme running through the whole sorry enterprise, that of tireless, bald-faced, mendacity. From the physics defying feats of 9/11 by the turbaned fanatics of Afghanistan, to the constantly morphing whoppers about horrible WMDs to the assassination of the ever slippery, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was, depending on who you talk to, an evil genius or barely functional mental defective, those conducting the war in Iraq have served up steaming heaps of lies, carefully engineered illusions and rigidly controlled propaganda to Americans and the world.
That literally tens of millions of Americans simply accept the current junta’s lies with a shrug before getting back to toiling for their flat screen TV’s and granite countertops speaks eloquently of the sorry mental and moral state we’ve come to. That apparently few of us can manage outrage, or even a mild annoyance at being so thoroughly manipulated illustrates the truth of the notion that people get the government they deserve.
So when I hear through an AP report that the Wicked Witch is dead I’m sorry to say my Propaganda Alarm went off once again. I recall the story that ran in papers world wide, (but not in the US corporate press) that Hussein’s wife of 25 years when taken to visit the newly captured dictator declared it wasn’t him. I remember reports of Hussein having never slept in the same bed two nights in a row and how he used a small squad of look-alikes. I remember the reports of his having escaped Iraq on a flight to Minsk. I notice his fine pricey dental work in early photos and how that work seems to have been torn out and replaced with stained, ragged choppers in photos of him in captivity.
Of course, I’m a conspiracy-addled paranoid nut-job. It’s what I do. Or maybe it’s just that I’ve heard so many lies from the same official sources that I now assume they are all lies. I don’t believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. I don’t believe an airplane flying into a skyscraper could break every piece of steel in the building into neat little sections. I don’t believe a bunch of rag heads with box cutters could make the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) take a day off. I don’t believe a 757 could crash into the first floor of a building without messing up the lawn in front of it or at least leaving some debris on the grass.
And I can’t help but wonder who they hanged in the photos on the internet and whether the hanging gave Americans a sense that they are getting good value for their children’s blood.