30 December 2006

A Speedy Hanging

At a party last night, I learned via text message that Saddam Hussein had been hung. I turned to the other partygoers and happily told them the news. Tonight, scouring the internet for just a few moments, I notice numerous bloggers and myspace friends lamenting how horrible it is that he received his death sentance (and usually there is no more explanation than that). My question is, aside from a possible opposition to the death penalty on principle, what is so horrible about Saddam Hussein being hung for his crimes? Is it more or less horrible than other deaths via death penalty?

I think that oftentimes people conflate issues, or don't understand issues very well, but make judgements on events and people based on their relations to other issues said people are familiar with. Maybe some people follow the line of reasoning that says "the enemy of my enemy is my friend." Many people don't know the history (for those interested, I found a good retrospective of Saddam's rule here). I remember a speaker at AMWAJ (Arab Movement of Women Arising for Justice) 2006 decrying the magazine cover photo of Saddam in his underwear. We are familiar with seeing our men emasculated, we are familiar with what it means to be saved from them by white men. But let us not be blind to the real transgressions that "our" men commit against us. Let's not conflate Saddam's plight with the plight of the average Iraqi citizen, because they are not both victims.

Will Saddam's death change anything for the people of Iraq? No. Did he deserve to pay for his crimes against the peoples of Iraq? Yes. Is the death penalty justified in this case? Is the death penalty justified in any case? Which cases? What do you think?

Edit: An article to the Arab reaction to the hanging here: No Arab Euphoria and another article about the Arab American celebration in Dearborn last night. Can there be celebration while Iraq is in ruins and large numbers of people are dying every day? But I understand the impulse to celebrate, as I felt happy when I heard the news. I had also not considered the fact that he was executed during Eid, which even as an athiest I consider highly disrespectful to Muslim culture.

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