Alibi V.19 No.16 • April 22-28, 2010 

Thin Line

Snuff War

I had pretty much forgotten about that pesky Iraq War, the one that has gone on so long we could have beaten Hitler twice over in the same time frame.

The war has become a vague, unpleasant memory, getting little or no airplay. If one wants to read about what is going on in Sadr City, Najaf or any of those other funny-sounding localities, one has to pick up a New York Times or whatever commie leftist rag my stepfather is reading this week.

But I was snatched from my blissful unawareness as the television momentarily strayed from telling me about something else, anything else.

This time it was footage of two Reuters employees nastily dispatched by two guys in a helicopter. Though the TV, of course, wouldn’t actually show it to me. Cowards to the end, the heads talked of the horrifying event and then directed me to the Internet, that latter-day Heart of Darkness. (Forcing me to dig it up myself to avoid offending advertisers is like not saying the N-Word by saying “the N-Word.” You’re too delicate to say it, so you force me to think of a slur not in my rotation.)

This is where I’m supposed to say, “Go see it for yourself.” But I won't.

Overcome by curiosity, I watched the video online, which was 20 grueling minutes, conveniently close-captioned and “objectively” named “Collateral Murder.” Cute title. It sounds like a John Grisham novel. Watch for the Tom Hanks miniseries on cable.

Needless to say, day ruined. This happens about once a year now. I lull myself into a nice little fuzzy ball of complacency. The television then tells me about footage that will show the brutality of war up close and personal, or at least in black and white from the gun sight of the Deluxokill 5000 Antipersonnel Cannon. (Don't bother looking it up.)

Just like the videos that preceded this—remember the soldier throwing a puppy down the ravine and the al Qaeda terrorist beheading a contractor?—the film elicits intense revulsion and profound sorrow.

This is where I’m supposed to say, “Go see it for yourself.” But I won't. The truth of the matter is, it will just make you feel shitty without offering a way out.

Never a fan of any war, I protested this one, once, in 2004. For a while after that, I argued with people about the injustice of it all.

Now I just watch these snuff movies periodically when they surface from the murky depths. It’s a way for me to stay in the game without doing or saying anything. I just view and feel bad about what I see.

And feeling bad about injustice, but not acting against it, is what Muhammad called the weakest form of faith. (Please, look that one up.)