Commenter Salacious Crumb suggested this link of Israeli soldiers’ trophy pictures that have appeared on Facebook.
They’re appalling but not surprising. If Facebook existed in 1945, we’d be treated to pictures of some of our grandparents posing with Japanese and German dead. If Twitter existed in 1876, Lakota and Cheyenne warriors would have been tweeting coup. When you unleash the terrible, fearsome and tragic thing that is war, it brings out the worst in some of the teenagers who fight it.
People took photos of the dead at Wounded Knee.
They fly against the Israeli government narrative, and that’s what I find important. The Palestinian / Israeli conflict is encourage in no small part by the assumption each side makes that THEIR nation is on the side of the angels.
Revealing the gritty details of combat puts a giant dent in those assumptions.
You could have titled this post as Least Surprising News of the Day, Part II.
Remember that scalps were first taken as prizes by white guys to show off the Indians they’d killed.
EXACTLY, my dear MisterMix.
What the government perpetrators of these wars don’t like is the photographic evidence of the results of what THEY set into action.
Hugin & Munin
Dehumanizing the victim makes things simpler/it’s like breathing with a respirator…
@Persia: To be fair, it WAS more efficient than bringing home the entire head.
@Persia: I hate to break up your little fantasy
But you’re just an anti-semite who wants to fire up the ovens.
@stuckinred: I feel educated! It still wasn’t the invention of the Indian ‘savages.’
People invented killing other people.
@stuckinred: Now hold on a second. I am sure liberals invented killing other people; it says so in Conservapedia.
@stuckinred: Given the horrific nature of the natural world, I suspect that the killing part is rather innate (which does not mean inevitable). But the species has certainly worked hard on inventing and improving the technology.
@Michael: You got me there.
Cain was an obvious liberal.
And can somebody tell me the fucking spiritual point of Esau and Jacob? Seems to me that Jacob was a complete asshole there.
Don’t mention the fore..
Foreskins that is
I do feel that the engagement ring has a much more ominous tradition behind it than we care to imagine….
but but but, liberals said if we see pictures of American soldiers torturing people, everyone would hate torture, be ashamed and there would be freedom, peace and love everywhere.
@Michael: Don’t blame it on Cain.
It should have worked out that way, but I guess it didn’t.
There is a notion that humans are basically good and if you give them enough information they will act with enlightened self interest.
I have had a hard time turning loose of that notion, in spite of lots of evidence to the contrary.
Of course, it could be that humans are not necessarily evil but are too stupid to survive as a species. And I’ve seen a lot of examples that support that theory.
They act with self interest, but that doesn’t mean they do good thing, especially when they feel that self interest means oppressing others.
Jacob WAS an asshole, but the point is that God even loves assholes and may have a use for them.
Also, God works in mysterious ways and judge not that ye be not judged. Or something.
I think whats noteworthy, to me at least, is that how little coverage this has gotten in the United States. The British press and the Arab media are covering it far more than we are. maybe we have the Abu Ghraib fatigue syndrome…
@Zifnab: Your nation could be 100% on the side of the angels and your teenage soldiers would still do the stuff teenage soldiers do. You could be engaged in the most righteous conflict of all time.
@salacious crumb: Or something. See #9 above.
@Steve: “You could be engaged in the most righteous conflict of all time.” And you’d still be likely to demonize your enemy. This is yet another reason why you should never go to war lightly.
Speaking of war, I’ve been commenting assiduously this week in The Atlantic’s Israel/Iran/Bomb discussions. I plan to put in most of my blog-time for the week over there, pounding the peace-drums. I have no idea if it will have any effect, but since the posts are by Very Serious People and there aren’t an ocean of high-quality comments, I have some little hope that I might have a slight effect on the VSPs or their readers.
Interesting highlights so far:
– James Fallows calls Elliot Abrams “not serious”
– Karim Sadjadpour calls him a concern troll.
– Ambinder says the White House is willing to go for containment
– Commenter “democraticcore” at Monday’s roundup thinks that
— in other words, *containment*. I have not seen containment of Israel publically acknowledged as a major US policy goal; I would like to believe it is, but I am an untrusting cynic.
It’s partly because in Britain at least you can cover these things more without being accused of anti-semitism and hounded out for telling the truth. It’s not really Abu Ghraib fatigue, as much as a fear of being attacked by AIPAC etc. The same is true for academic publishing – remember the fate of Norman Finkelstein once Alan Dershowitz got through with him?
Years ago, my grandfather shared with me a bunch of pictures he took while fighting in WW11. In one of the photos, his platoon was standing in front of a Sherman tank. On the front of the tank, were mounted the severed heads of 4 SS soldiers they had killed the previous day.
He told me I was the only person he had ever shown this photo to and this was the reason he never spoke about the war. He broke down crying and asked me to forgive him.
War is fucking hell.
spiritual point of Esau and Jacob?
1. The second-comer (=Israel) will inherit instead of the first-born rightful heir (=Canaan).
2. Mom is smarter and more cunning than Dad, and the kid she likes best will win.
3. But playing favorites with your children *never* ends well.
4. It’s better to be smart than strong.
5. BBQ is all very well, but what you really want is a man who can *cook*.
Who is Norman Finkelstein?
I suspect that the answer to that question will be one word:
I always thought it was “Jews had better use their wits if they want to get ahead, because sitting around and waiting for the world to give you justice won’t get you anywhere.”
I don’t think there is one. Esau’s descendants were the Edomites, a hated rival tribe.
He’s still alive and publishing, but was hounded out of academia by Dershowitz. He got in some fairly good licks in return, including a fairly clear demonstration that Dershowitz was a plagiarist. Harvard, as usual, ignored the claims of justice and decency, and Dershowitz continues to peddle his unique blend of bigotry, legalism and corruption.
And the banshee-like howl you will soon hear is Pam Geller’s 24-hour orgasm after she discovers these pictures. Of course, if it keeps her from hopping on the TV to scream about “The mosque where I bought my London Fog Wool Blend Peacoat”, it’s a trade I’m willing to make..
The pictures are appalling and disgusting, but like the Abu Ghraib pictures, they are a rather small window onto a very large injustice. Inside Abu Ghraib several hundred Iraqis were treated horribly, and a several died. Outside Abu Ghraib millions of Iraqis were (and are) displaced, hundreds of thousands have died, and the entire country has been sent backwards technologically by 50 years. In a similar fashion, inside Israeli jails, tens of thousands of Palestinians have been treated horribly, and who knows how many have died. Outside Israeli prisons, the 62 year old campaign of ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and other groups continues. The destruction of the Bedouin village in the Negev is just the latest incident.
Trophy-taking was pretty widespread in the Pacific theater during WWII — Life magazine ran a famous picture of an American girl writing a letter to her Naval officer boyfriend with the skull of a Japanese soldier that he’d sent her on the desk.
There’s a reason that it’s almost always the men who’ve never experienced combat that are the most eager to start wars.
On the OT subject of terrorism and connections of American officials to terrorists, I used to root out some good research from time to time and stumbled across one of my favorite pictures. Remarkable stuff, really, if you google up the least familiar name of the trio.
One wonders what the lowly Comptroller of a county was doing in ratting around with the Sinn Fein/IRA heavy hitters of their day, one of them appearing to be a combination bagman and major planner.
Clearly seeing the pictures wouldn’t have changed public opinion. That’s why the public wasn’t allowed to see them.
First, I didn’t know that you had such famous posters at BJ. Salacious Crumb is my favorite Muppet.
Secondly, most Americans have been so desensitized that these pictures mean virtually nothing.
Thirdly, I remember a picture from Life Magazine of an American tank with a rotted Japanese soldiers head mounted on it as a grisly trophy.
Finally, when the US was boasting about the Iraqi military’s ability at beating the Mahdi Army in Basra towards the end of the surge days, there were reports of an Iraqi military Humvee driving around with the body of a Mahdi militia member tied to the hood as a trophy/warning.
Shorter GregB, war makes people into violent sociopaths.
I remember having to counsel a young soldier right after his first contact. He was pissed off and upset that the enemy had the temerity to shoot at him. This is not an uncommon feeling among people who have been shot at.
I had to remind him that it really was nothing personal and it’s not like they knew him from the old neighborhood and that what is supposed to separate us from the Talibs is that we are supposed to be a disciplined force.
When that discipline breaks down and officers and NCOs forget that they need to not only protect their Soldiers from the enemy but from themselves, you get things like My Lai, Abu Ghraib, and Malmedy.
Oh, and the doctor says that the EKG and echo tests basically say “this is the normal heart of a healthy young adult male,” so that’s some good news. Yay, me!
Congratulations! Shall you be holding a celebration suited to the heart of a healthy young male?
@soonergrunt: “Oh, and the doctor says that the EKG and echo tests basically say “this is the normal heart of a healthy young adult male,” so that’s some good news. Yay, me!”
Yay, indeed! That is most excellent news!
I’m sorry, how did the American Indians know about the Visigoths, again?
Anyway, this set of pictures today only enhances my great admiration for the nation of Israel. I am so proud that we are their unblinking ally and protector. no matter what.
Adam raised a Cain.
@soonergrunt: Fuckin A brother!
@soonergrunt: Pat Lang had a piece a while back on the weakness in the IDF NCO corps. Because of their reservist structure they have no real “backbone” of the Army and we know what that leads to.
Culture of Truth
People kept trying to kill Yossarian and it was very upsetting.
Ivan Ivanovich Renko
@jwb: This right here.
Ivan Ivanovich Renko
Excellent news, Soonergrunt!!
Which would be instructive because it would reveal the same racism and xenophobia that is still running strong through our culture, really dominating it if you think about the Republican ascendancy, the Fox-o-sphere and so forth. Okay, Hitler was nuts but there’s a really good case to be made that the Japanese would have stayed out of our shit had we not systematicaly belittled them as a nation and as a people, and bullied them with a discriminatory trade policy. Our Jim Crow military didn’t drop an A-bomb on Berlin, did it? They may have been the greatest generation but the question is greatest at what.
Tone In DC
@soonergrunt: Yay You!
Yay about the heart man!
Yeoman’s work my friend and good on ya for trying to help.
In order to spare y’all pictures of an excessive effusion of blood, I will only link to one picture from this morning.
Bruce (formerly Steve S.)
Don’t approach this story in the terms of the socialist, new-agey hippies of the New Testament, approach it in the terms of the violent, patriarchal society in which it’s set.
@stuckinred: Yeah. Without a professional NCO corps, you get armies like the Russian army, which can’t find it’s collective ass with a battalion’s worth of hands but can wipe out whole villages indiscriminately.
Their little two-week operation in Georgia took eight months of planning and training, they outnumbered the Georgians by 12 to 1 and they still managed to almost lose.
The IDF officer corps is pretty decent if massively over-politicized, but their NCO corps is bloody useless. They’ve been mostly lucky in their enemies.
the public wasn’t allowed to see them because the government did not want to give terrorists another recruiting tool while it did nothing domestically except make people mad we gave terrorists another recruiting tool.
Or do you think the government won’t show them BECAUSE everyone would be ashamed and peace, love and freedom will flourish in America?
Congrats to you, Sooner. Long may you wave!
I think the point was more that it’s pretty common across the human race for people to mess with the corpses of their enemy. Scalping existed in North America before white folks showed up but, as usual, white folks were the ones who figured out how to monetize it.
If you watched “The Pacific” or read the Eugene Sledge memoir you would know that.
@Nick: Is that you, Rush?
@NobodySpecial: If you think Rush Limbaugh is the only person who thinks that way, then you really need to get out more.
But that’s expected from someone who thinks this country is a secret left wing paradise
Very good to hear. Take care.
Bullshit. Hitler was not nuts. And millions of Austrians and Germans were thrilled with what he was doing.
More bullshit. Can you say Rape of Nanking? A friend’s father, of Asian descent, lost his eye to a Japanese guard who enjoyed beating him just for shits and giggles, and because he was an inferior Asian.
Japanese militarism was long festering. But if you like, you can blame the Russians.
The Germans didn’t attack Pearl Harbor. On the other hand, Dresden wasn’t a light show.
Oh they were a bunch of hypocrites. But, had the Axis powers won the war, do you think that they would have given up their colonial empires or any territory gained from the defeated Western powers? What would a strictly neutral United States, having avoided war with both Germany and Japan, look like? There might never have been a reason to consider integrating the US armed forces, less urgency to consider civil rights.
On the other hand, I like to think that Ghandi would have bulked up and become a freedom fighter.
And were therefore the ones who got blamed for it.
It’s part of the idea that the “savages” out in the world wouldn’t be so savage if the white man didn’t walk among them, and it’s the obverse of the “white man’s burden.”
It’s the idea that we have some special inherent evil mixed with a lot of denying the locals their own agency and responsibility.
If infantile-izing a people isn’t racism, I don’t know what is.
The first peoples practiced slavery, gladiatorial combat, organized warfare, the whole nine yards. They just didn’t have the same level of technology as did the Europeans.
I’m actually making the opposite point: everything that “proved” the Native Americans were savages who needed to be wiped out were things that the Europeans had also done at some point. People get all het up about the human sacrifice and (possible) cannibalism of the Aztecs, but they conveniently forget about the Druids doing the same thing.
Humans is humans, and we all do terrible things to each other. No use in getting up on our high horse about how we’re inherently better, because we ain’t.
Well, the less the public knows, the better for everyone! And we know that it would have done “nothing domestically” because the government said so and they’re always quite forthright (except when to be forthright would do nothing domestically and give terrorists another recruiting tool. Then they hide stuff. But only for good reasons!).
False dilemma much? Although if everyone did feel a little well-deserved shame and demanded an end to the occupations (which the government doesn’t seem to want) I guess that might mean peace . And if they demanded a real end to torture – that is, accountability and punishment for the torturers (which the government doesn’t seem to want) – I guess that would mean more freedom in America.
And I would love that.
Um, yeah, sure. And all that excuses the warcrimes we committed on the battlefield against the Japanese. And the internment of Japanese-Americans. And the fact remains that we’re the only country on earth that has nuked anybody, and that we did it in a conflict where we ginned up hatred on expressly racial grounds. Ever seen a WWII recruiting poster with ‘slant eyed little japs’ on it? Today’s racist right wing doesn’t come from nowhere. When they say they are standing up for old fashioned values, they really mean it. They’re just not the pretextual apple pie and Chevy values that you think they’re referring to but old core racial hatreds that have always driven the politics of the white population in this country.
@Mnemosyne: I actually think that we’re making the same point, for the very reasons you state.
Our ancestors did evil shit to each other before they met the next group, to whom they also did evil shit. That group did evil shit to each other before our ancestors came along and did evil shit to them. Were it not for a couple of lucky breaks, for lack of a better term, they would’ve been the ones doing the evil shit to our ancestors instead of the other way around.
There is nothing inherently evil about them or us, and nothing inherently good about us or them.
The Druids are a fairly moot point, since we have few sources, and most of what we have was written by elite Romans who had either not met Druids, or had a vested interest in proving that the Celts were howling barbarians.
There is, actually, rather more evidence for human sacrifice in early Greek culture.
I don’t disagree that there was some big ol’ racism back then — see Peril, Yellow. But the frothing over “the Hun” back during WWI was fairly extraordinary, as well. People need to demonize folks they are at war with — it makes killing them so much less horrifying.
Wanted to add — yay, sooner!
I’m trying to find Pat Lang’s piece on Israeli NCOs and failing. Do you have a link? a timeframe?
I think this is the piece in question.
“Druids” is probably oversimplifying it. I’m thinking of stuff like the bog bodies, which in at least some cases seem to be victims of human sacrifice and are found all over northern Europe.
There are also the recent discoveries at Cheddar Gorge that point quite clearly to cannibalism among the earliest settlers of what is now England.
IOW, as soonergrunt and I are saying, no culture is immune from these things. Claiming “it can’t happen here” and turning a blind eye when it does is more damaging than admitting it could and keeping a sharp eye out for it.
Sure. Any student of early history knows that there was human sacrifice, and cannibalism in any civilization. You’ll find an abundance of human sacrifice in the Shang Dynasty in China, and it’s very clear that the Greeks knew that their ancestors had performed human sacrifice (see Iphigenia and Achilles’ ritual slaughter of Trojan prisoners as part of the funeral of Patroclus). Interestingly, Greek sacrificial ritual is very much constructed as an act of necessary murder, and hedged about with various taboos and sub-rituals to minimize communal guilt.
The bog bodies are harder to pin down – one suggestion has been that they represent some sort of legal, punitive response to eg, adultery.
On a lighter note, when I was doing grad school, we had a crazy librarian (lovely woman, but crazy) who insisted, vehemently that Italians had never committed cannibalism. We used to tease her by requesting that she purchase books with titles such as:
Il Cannibalismo nel Italia
Cannibal Nation: Italy and the Devouring of Human Flesh
Where Do They Put The Bodies? The Untold Story Of Italian Cuisine
I will never again be able to see your name without thinking of that blurb.
This diary PROVES it. The government doesn’t have to say so, just look how people react to these things elsewhere. And we’re worse the most cultures.
Oh God, I sometimes can’t believe the things some liberals believe. My point is NO ONE WIL FEEL SHAME and will instead demonize us for trying to shame them, and NO ONE will call for the end of occupation and in the meantime we created more enemies over there.
I’m do you really believe this country would look at torture photos and feel shame? Really? Americans? the same people who think it’s ok to deny them their right to worship? Really?
@Mnemosyne: I remember “Life Goes to War” (a coffee-table collection of Life photos from WWII) had that picture. It also had a pair of photos, several dozen pages apart, that have always stuck in my mind. They were basically the same photo – a closeup of a human head which had been burned black – but the captions were a little different. One was along the lines of “Japanese atrocities in China: Incendiary bombs used”, and the other was “Americans advance through Pacific: Japanese holdouts killed by incendiaries.”
Gee, how would we find out? I mean, you know all the answers in advance, which is comforting I’m sure. Me, I’d prefer to ask regardless of I believe beforehand.
“I’m not ashamed at all” is a lot less cowardly than “Please don’t show me the truth”.
@Der BlindSchtiller: This is chilling to read. Thank you for sharing this.
@soonergrunt: YAY! So what does this mean for the surgery? At any rate, YAY!
I couldn’t click on the link. I know this is terribly whatever of me, but I can’t look at those kind of pictures without becoming greatly upset. However, it doesn’t surprise me because people do nasty shit to other people, especially during war.
Sorry. I did not offer anything as an excuse for supposed American war crimes. Just saying that life is complicated.
Now, if you want to say that the world would have been better off had the US not got in the Japanese government’s grill, you can say so,
If you want to say that the Japanese would have been in the forefront of a peaceable pan Asian utopia had the evil US just not got in its way, you can say so,
Totally irrelevant to anything that I have said. Hell, totally irrelevant to anything that you have said previously.
I think that the bomb had to be dropped. Not because the Japanese deserved it. Not because it was necessary to end the war.
The bomb would have been used somewhere by some government. Because human beings are stupid. Because even despite a demonstration blast in some uninhabited place, someone would have said “How do I know that blast was real? How do I know that it will do as much damage as predicted?”
And remember that we dropped two bombs on Japan. Even the Japanese government refused to surrender after the Hiroshima devastation.
Now, would you have preferred that the US and allied forces invade Japan and fight street by street, city by city? Or would you have preferred that some negotiated truce by done in which Japan found a way to hold onto some of the territories that it had conquered?
I’ve seen all the racist propaganda of both sides of World War I and World War II. Hell, I’ve seen the propaganda that the Romans used to justify their total destruction of Carthage and their total cleansing of the site of that city state. Again, what is your point?
Racism is as American as apple pie. Racism is also human. The Democratic Party used to be the home of American racism. That they largely purged it is a testimony to what people of good will can do. But please don’t delude yourself that racism is some special province of either Republicans or conservatives.
This is old news. I even posted in this blog how Obama’s nomination, let alone election, would spur a racist backlash. But I would never have predicted how deeply resentful and fear infueled it might become.
Many groups have racial demons to fight. I am bemused by some old guard white liberals in Southern California who refuse to see the anti-black racism in some Latino communities, not home grown, but residue of the cultural attitudes of their home countries, often with some traces of self-denial. Then, there are those Native American tribal groups who get a pass allowing them to use idiotic claims of blood to exclude African Americans and others who fail a totally bogus purity test. And then there are the Latinos who deny their own indigenous ancestry and declare themselves to be magically “Spanish.” It goes on and on.
RE: Hitler was not nuts
Well, there is the claim, apparently unfounded, that Hitler was nut… but that’s another story for another day.
Germany surrendered May 5, 1945.
The Trinity test was July 16, 1945.
Hard to drop a bomb you don’t yet have.
@asiangrrlMN: I’m still having the surgery. All this really means is that the mass, which isn’t the SHAPE of a ping pong ball, only the DIAMETER with a bump, still has to come off, it’s just not actually causing my heart to misbehave yet.
Maybe he was a legume.