happy violence by mara ahmed

i found this apparently innocuous, happy-go-lucky article, celebrating navy seals and their killing of osama bin laden, disturbing in its glorification of violence and murder:

The Coolest Guys in the World; America’s quietest killers, working anonymously and without public recognition; can also make some noise—as they did when they killed Osama bin Laden last week with a point-blank shot to the left temple; a semi-legendary bunch; Swagger; agonizing combination of brain and brawn; hunter-killer teams; The men toasted fallen comrades, ogled action shots of each other “blowing things up, skydiving, attacking ships,” and took turns with slide shows of their major kills.

yes, it’s published in mainstream media but how else are we to gauge a nation’s popular culture? i don’t read newsweek, in fact i wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole, but sometimes i come across the magazine in waiting rooms. the entire issue on osama’s execution is frightening, including the accompanying photo – men stripped of their identities, their judgment, their humanity and turned into indistinguishable bodies that kill at someone else’s command – the entire idea behind the military of course.

not only was this particular piece alarming, in many ways, but also other articles, in the same issue.

salman rushdie: pakistan is a “terrorist country” — how does that work when pakistani civilians r being droned by us and not the other way around?

elie weisel: A Death Deserved: Normally, I would respond to such scenes with deep apprehension… This time is different. –- talk about moral relativism.

Bernard-Henri Levy: jihadi infiltration, pakistani bomb, most dangerous country in the world, etc – typical zionist conspiracy theory that barely tries to mask an islamophobic rant.

andrew sullivan: As a Christian I am asked to pray for the soul of Osama bin Laden, not to celebrate his death. And this prayer I have spoken, as I am bound to. But this is also true: the joy will not leave me either, and I am not ashamed in the slightest. –- ok, good for u.

fatima bhutto: osama’s death is irrelevant to pakistanis — she’s right but again, no outrage at extrajudicial murder.

no mention of the 1 million iraqi civilians dead, the civil war, the refugees, the depleted uranium, the comprehensive destruction of a country.

no mention of the obscene war in afghanistan, the second poorest country in the world, most threatened not by the taliban but by malnutrition.

no mention of ongoing drone attacks that kill pakistani civilians on a daily basis – 2,000 killed in the last two yrs alone, under obama’s stewardship.

it’s all tied together. it’s not just about perpetrating violence on “them.” that’s why SWAT teams r now being used to break into people’s homes and arrest them for missing student loan payments.

i don’t watch tv but i come face to face with it at the gym. frequently, all the major tv channels highlight their programming with a roundup of clips from their most successful shows. there’s no sound at the gym but the visual loop of people prancing around with guns, pushing in doors, committing violent crimes, and dissecting dead bodies is quite dizzying. the editing is choppy, the camera work nervous (for a handheld, reality-based feel), the pace relentless. the stories seem repetitive, banal, mind-numbing. there is no space for exploration, analysis, comparison or evaluation. the images r violent or sexual, fragmented, compressed together, looped interminably. it’s scary. and happy-go-lucky.

The Coolest Guys in the World

Sorrow and Joy – Elie Wiesel, Fatima Bhutto, Bernard-Henri Lévy, and Andrew Sullivan reflect on the end of Osama Bin Laden

SWAT Team Busts into Home over Student Loan Default

u.s. navy seals