Thursday, March 5, 2015

Who's More Civilized?


Hal Pepinsky,, “peacemaking” at

March 5, 2015


                Today’s “Democracy Now!” segment on the role of the British MI-5 in turning Mohammed Emwazi into the IS executioner, aka Jihahi John, who has beheaded US citizens on video, carried me back to what I learned about differences I found between conceptions of crime and violence in Tanzania and the US when I lived in and around Dar es Salaam for five months in the first half of 1990 (as described in, as I was in my Feb. 23 post on “Violence from on High”—placing IS and US violence side by side.  In the segment, we see Emwazi pronouncing sentence as he carries out an execution.  He calls on President Obama to stop killing people indiscriminately, and pronounces the knife he wields as the IS instrument of payback of the “America” that President Obama represents.  Emwazi does not identify himself, he is hooded.  Outwardly, and I’m sure inwardly, he does his duty to his state, just as staff in execution chambers and drone pilots do theirs in and for the US.  It is also a deterrent:  If you hurt us with your “superior” weapons, we will hurt you by the simpler, more direct means available to us.  This is not an unreasonable calculation:  The US public has limited tolerance for war casualties; we will simply wear them down.  And the seriousness of the victimization in the IS by the US far exceeds the threat used by the US to justify that victimization.  They justify their violence by what we DO.  It is a mark of economic and military privilege and domination that we justify ours by caricaturing who they ARE, as we create the enmity we seek to destroy and degrade.  Love and peace, hal          


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