The Geopolitics of Translation
September 1, 2003 8:14 AM Subscribe
"This is not what Saddam attributes to himself." This? What is This? According to the BBC and Al Jazeera, This is the assassination of Iraqi Ayatollah Mohammad Baqir al-Hakim, the source of far more mourning amongst the Shiite community than, say, the death of Uday and Qusay Hussein. Apparently, Saddam pointed out how quickly the West rushed to judgment against him, then denied he had anything to do with the bombing. CNN and the Associated Press concur with that assessment, though they do not use the above (translated) passage in their report. And that would be it, save for the BBC providing a full text translation of the primary source for the story. A slightly larger excerpt:
[The invaders say without evidence that some of my supporters were responsible.] Saddam Hussein is not the leader of the minority or a group, with whom he is affiliated or who are affiliated. He is the leader of all the great Iraqi people - Arabs and Kurds; Shias and Sunnis, Muslims and non-Muslims. Saddam Hussein does not attribute this saying to himself. This[emphasis added] is what was decided by the great Iraqi people themselves in free, public elections.Contextual shift between translations has always been a contentious issue, but precisely how does the message "I am not just the ruler of a few shattered remnants of Iraqi society" get warped into "I did not order the death of this man"? The two messages are, after all, mutually exclusive. The only thing that's clear is that it's unlikely this was a militarily-sourced obfuscation; Heatley's comments on CNN clearly address the obvious interpretation. Thoughts?
This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments