May 18, 2004

Search Terms: Nick Berg

My webstats for May show that Nick Berg is dominating my search terms for the month:

1nick berg decapitation video
2berg decapitation video
3against gay marriage
4nick berg video
5nick berg decapitation
6against gay marriages
7arguments against gay marriage
9nick berg full video
10conservatives against bush
11reasons against gay marriage
12anime men
13nick berg
14crazy laws
15scared cat
16berg decapitation
17gay marriage
18arguments against gay marriages
19nick berg video links
20full nick berg video

The actual webstat table can be found here. Gay marriage did manage to sneak in there.

Actually, it seems that most of this activity was mostly concentrated on last Thursday, right after I wrote my small post on the subject. It appears that, for a while, Google was funneling hits my way, and then it dropped off. People were going insane searching for that video.

I wonder if they found it. And, if they did, I wonder what they learned?

Posted by James at May 18, 2004 2:54 PM
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I am disturbed that someone got to your site by searching on "anime men." I'm just plain puzzled by "scared cat," though.

Posted by: Patti M. at May 18, 2004 3:28 PM

I cannot imagine actively looking for that either. Some people are just twisted I guess. Mean while I was frantically changing channels every time the subject came on the TV (I've found "that 70's show" on 38 is a good go to during the national news) as I really didn't want a repeat of the Danny Pearl video where I accidentally came across the stills while changing stations one night. There is one image I'll never get out of my head and I didn't need another keeping it company. I can be just as outraged by knowing it happened without actually seeing it. It's like when people slow down to get a good long look at an accident in hopes it'll be bloody (I call these people vultures).

Posted by: Bob at May 18, 2004 5:27 PM

Someone in my office found the video of Berg's beheading and wanted company (she didn't want to view it alone). I told her I really don't want to see that, especially since I can't get the WTC swan diver out of my head. I could barely get the words out without crying (I don't thin I'll ever get over seeing what I saw that day).

I'll pass on the Berg video.

Posted by: Patti M. at May 18, 2004 5:35 PM

I've not seen it, and I don't feel the need to see it. I'd like to geep my gruesome gore fake, thank you.

The terrorists want me to see the video. I don't feel the need to oblige them.

Posted by: James at May 18, 2004 9:30 PM

James, it's not only the terrorists who are getting mileage out of this video. Their hideous act is, as we speak, being used to justify the disgusting acts of torture perpetrated by our own servicemen and women.

Witness the Boston Herald front page last week, which showed the video shot of Berg on his knees with the assassins behind him and the headline "Prisoner Abuse--Iraqi Style."

Posted by: Patti M. at May 19, 2004 9:43 AM

I watched the video. I agree with the argument that we need to see what we're dealing with in full detail. I didn't enjoy it; by the end I was shaking. It was horrible. There was no sick fascination, no Hollywood thrill, just outright horror, outrage, sadness, and awfulness.

I can appreciate others deciding not to watch it, and on a blog like this where people are politically savvy that's one thing. In general though, I feel like America has grown complacent. Every day that goes by is one farther away from 9-11 and the vivid evidence that proves what kind of monsters lurk in the world.

James, you're right: the terrorists want you to see the video, but what they expect is for you to be afraid. What they got from me was not fear, but anger, not the desire to stop hunting terrorists, but the will to keep it up. We can argue what separates people from animals, but I think a large part of it is appreciating the fact that we're human and enjoying the life given to us, not willfully tearing the life out of an innocent man's throat.

Patti: I didn't read the Herald's article so I can't be certain, but I get the impression that the headline isn't so much justifying what our troops did but instead pointing out how much worse it could be. There's a difference between abuse and torture, between taking someone’s dignity and outright, cold-blooded, vicious murder. I don’t think what our troops did there was right or appropriate, nor do I think that all of the people in that prison belonged there or deserved it. It was wrong. I realize evil is evil, however I never heard anyone say that the terrorists had cornered the market; they’ve merely got a large share of it.

The whole thing is sad. Things will only get worse before they get better. Such an awful situation.

Posted by: jfournier at May 19, 2004 8:06 PM

I disagree with the opinion that the terrorists want you to be afraid.

They want us to react. Anger will do.

And it worked.

I'm sure the terrorists didn't like the fact that we could fly planes over areas of the Middle East and fire missiles and have that barely make the world news. Anger isn't the opposite of complacent. It is the opposite of calm.

They want us good and angry. The angrier we are, the more likely we allow something like the invasion of Iraq to happen. We were so angry, we let Zarquawi go the last time because that might have abated some of the anger and reduced support for the Iraq war.

Who makes their best decisions when angry?

I don't need to be angry to know that we need to stop people with plans and means to attack Americans. And I don't actually need to see a beheading to get angry about it.

I think there is probably enough anger in the world.

Posted by: James at May 19, 2004 9:58 PM

I also don't agree that what we did was any better. A beheading is certainly more graphic but beating someone to death (and the reports I've seen certainly indicate that this occured) doesn't leave a person any less dead. In fact if I had to choose between being torured for a few days and being beaten to death and being beheaded I'd have to go with the latter.

Posted by: Bob at May 20, 2004 12:08 PM

By the way I just thought I'd let everybody know that I'm officially outraged about the outrage at the outrage. Take that Rush.

Posted by: Bob at May 20, 2004 12:17 PM

Yeah. What Bob said, more or less. Better or worse is beside the point.

First, a headline like the Herald's ("Prisoner Abuse - Iraqi Style") suggests that all Iraqis would behave the same way. Bush has insisted frequently (obviously without much success) that his war is against terrorists, not the Iraqi people, so if that's the Herald's way of supporting the President, it's horribly misguided. It's a great way to fuel racism, though.

Not that the headline's flippant reference to torture and murder is a promising sign of journalistic integrity or a desire for rational discourse.

Second, the headline does compare "us" to "them." Whether or not torture is "better" than murder is a philosophical question, not a practical one, but since terrorists set the bar pretty low when it comes to moral authority, you don't have to try very hard to be "better" than them and it's ludicrous that someone would feel a need to point that out in the headlines of a bird-excrement*-catcher.

So... why would the Herald do that? To deflect the discussion away from the real issue: the difference between right and wrong.

Okay, let's say (for the sake of the argument) "we" are better than "them." Again, not much of an accomplishment, but it sure sounds warm and fuzzy. If you focus on that, you don't have to deal with the uncomfortable truth that torturing prisoners is still wrong. It violates an international law that the US agreed to decades ago, and (as medieval torture specialists could have told you) it's effective only in getting prisoners to lie.

Third, terrorists don't care whether you're angry, sad, or scared, as long as you're focused on them and too emotional to think clearly. You're easy to manipulate. Every decision you make will involve the terrorists in some way because you've lost sight of the big picture.

As long as they have your attention (which I'm sure is pretty thrilling for them in its own right) and you're not calm, you're right where they want you.

Osama says his goal is to demolish Western culture and civilization. If you want to make it easier for him, by all means do things that will make you more emotional, less rational, and more focused on that one small group of people. Focus on them and let everything else fall apart.

*Sorry about the reference to "excrement" - I got a "comment submission error" when I used the word that rhymes with "loop."

Posted by: Julie at May 20, 2004 1:52 PM

"I didn't read the Herald's article so I can't be certain, but I get the impression that the headline isn't so much justifying what our troops did but instead pointing out how much worse it could be."

Pointing out how much worse it could be is a way of justifying what our troops did.

The front page splash, in fat bold type, is equivalent to saying exactly that--look what they did, and it's so much worse than what _we_ did, so by contrast, what we did wasn't that bad.

The article, of course, featured this wonderful, flag-waving quote:

``It shows the true nature of the enemies of freedom,'' said White House spokesman Scott McClellan. ``They have no regard for the lives of innocent men, women and children. We will pursue those who are responsible and bring them to justice.''

McClellan conveniently omitted the innocent Iraqi men and women who have been abused in Abu Ghraib prison. "In a report in February, the Red Cross stated that some military intelligence officers estimated that 70 percent to 90 percent of 'the persons deprived of their liberty in Iraq had been arrested by mistake.' " The Washington Post, May 11, 2004

This war was a mistake. We picked the wrong target. We should've gone after memebers of al-Quaeda, loosely connected groups of fundamentalists scattered about the mid-east and Asia--a series of targets who would be hard to find. Instead, we targeted a secular country we don't like--Iraq. "And, in discussing the threat posed by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, Bush said: 'After all, this is the guy who tried to kill my dad.'", September 27, 2002

A tangible target was chosen over the real culprits. It was easier and faster than nailing dispersed members of al-Quaeda.

I have tried to explain until I am blue in the face that these two groups are like oil and water.

Iraq: secular
al-Quaeda: fundamentalists

They didn't have a lot in common, until now (America and her denizens).

What's happened so far:

* We've destabilized a region of the world.
* We have removed a horrible man from power (good in a way until you think of us ignoring the sovereignty of a country...), but created a power vacuum.
* We've destroyed the infrastructure of Iraq, and we really can't leave, especially not now. I predict we'll be there for some time in a capacity similar to the one we've had in Korea for the past 50 years.
* We've united people in their hatred of us (the enemy of my enemy is my friend).
* We've swelled the ranks of al-Quaeda, and Osama bin Laden and Osama's Mammas are still out there, ready to attack us.

Bush may not have meant to invite the terrorists to attack us when he said "Bring 'em on," but they have obliged, and I fear they will continue to do so.

Posted by: Patti M. at May 20, 2004 2:30 PM

Apparently "poop" had snuck onto the blacklist.

I took it off. I don't want to discourage people from talking about "poop."

Poop now legal!

Posted by: James at May 20, 2004 2:31 PM

Thank you! Poopity-poop poop poop!!

Posted by: Julie at May 20, 2004 3:06 PM

I must admit, after my last post, I was pooped.

Posted by: Patti M. at May 20, 2004 3:43 PM

Thanks for the responses to my comment. I've changed my mind on the Herald headline; you're right: it is justifying what our soldiers did.

I truly feel that what they did was to scare us. They want us to leave Iraq, Afghanistan, etc and to retreat to America, leaving the rest of the world to them. They don't want us to retaliate, they want us to back down and go home. "Please don't kill anymore innocents, we'll go home... Just leave us alone."

I don't think they see our anger as a way to make us act irrationally. They didn't want us in Iraq or Afghanistan, and the constant violence proves that. If all they wanted to do was provoke us into invading more places, why not establish camps in more places? Why not attack on US soil to really make us mad? Instead, they attack where they want us to leave and when killing soldiers doesn't do it they turn to innocent good-samaritans.

I was angry before I saw the video, I thought I knew how bad it was before I watched it. I pictured it in my mind and thought I understood how bad it was. It wasn't until I watched it and saw the methodical movements, the cold-blooded savagery, the thoughtless slaughter that occurred without so much as the slightest hesitation that I really understood. These people are monsters.

Posted by: jfournier at May 20, 2004 10:29 PM

"These people are monsters."

Please keep in mind that we are uncovering our own mosters right now.

If you need visuals to understand my point, please go to the front page of The Washington Post.

Posted by: Patti M. at May 21, 2004 9:46 AM

URL correction:

Posted by: Patti M. at May 21, 2004 9:46 AM

It's much easier to justify killing or mistreating others if you dehumanize them first. If think of people as monsters, you no longer have to think of a way to deal with them as human beings. You can just kill them. Or write them off as irrelevant so you can squash them like bugs.

That's why it's easy for terrorists to kill. We're obstacles to Allah, we're filthy Western pigs, etc. Not human beings.

So, again, if we want to say that we are better than them, we have to be better than them. We have to stop dehumanizing others. It's not easy, but being better is supposed to be difficult.

Posted by: Julie at May 21, 2004 10:34 AM

Well said, Julie.

Posted by: Patti M. at May 21, 2004 10:48 AM

You asked if seekers found the Nick Berg decapitation video. I think that those who wanted to saw it. You also ask what they would learn from seeing it. I would say they would learn something (maybe it's a personal thing).

What do you dislike more: the ugly truth or the stampede to accept it?

Posted by: James (UK) at June 18, 2004 7:48 PM

Yes, I asked what they learned from it. Still no real answer on that one.

Posted by: James at June 19, 2004 2:05 AM

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