It is probably the height of arrogance to think one's own judgments will be history's judgments and perhaps the hanging of Sadaam Hussein will be lost amidst the unspeakable tragedy of the hundreds of thousands of those who lie dead in Iraq, many most assuredly by his own hand, but I had to turn the TV off yesterday in the midst of the ghoulish execution watch and today I feel a bit dirty. There's a funny taste in my mouth and everything feels wrong and out of sorts. Perhaps it is not the final coda to the events of 9/11, but it is most certainly some sort of interstitial bookend and I cannot help but feel that as a nation we failed.
We are not what we pretend to be. As Americans we like to believe that we act with wisdom and good judgment, and those on the right who cheered on this war most vociferously did so out of a conviction that we are a nation possessed of indominable moral rectitude. Even as they claimed the right as the world's policemen to dethrone and execute Saddam Hussein for his crimes against humanity, they openly mock Jimmy Carter for his insistence that human rights be placed in the vanguard of American foreign policy considerations. For this he is considered weak and naive. In the end I just don't believe that more than one in a hundred Americans knew that Saddam was ostensibly executed for his role in the 1982 killing of 148 Shiite Muslims, nor did they care. I would be willing to bet more still believed that Saddam had ties to Al-Quaeda, a role in the 9/11 hijackings or god help us all, weapons of mass destruction. Somewhere in the distance between political opportunism and national bloodlust the reasons for his death can be found. It's a fetid pile of refuse I'm not particularly interested in picking at just now.
Any sympathy I might feel for Saddam's plight would find him standing at the end of a very long line of victims of this war, and it's not even an abhorrance of the death penalty that moves me today (although I most certainly feel that this is nothing a civilized nation has any place engaging in). That sickened feeling in my stomach seems to mark some kind of new low to which we have fallen, murder as PR to inch the arctic approval ratings of the pathalogical boy king and his disastrous war incrementally upward. Codpiece justice and death-as-photo-op reign supreme. Perhaps this is just the last, gruesome swan song of a morally bankrupt right wing as it exits center stage, the perverse final chorus it sings in its death throes.
It is nonetheless hideous to behold.