atrocity archives
February 21, 2009 8:28 AM   Subscribe

BABIES’ skulls dashed against rocks; attempts to twist off the heads of toddlers. Girls, their mothers and grandmothers (and sometimes male relatives too) raped at knife- or gunpoint, the weapons then used to inflict mutilation. Women hauled off to camps or just tied to trees and gang-raped. Thousands of children, some as young as nine, snatched or recruited by armed gangs (or regular forces) and made into drug-crazed killers, the girls among them often serially abused or taken by commanders as “wives”. Such are the horrors reported from some recent conflict zones... posted by kliuless (41 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Since when was it okay to just post random Misfits lyrics on the front page?

Oh, wait. Carry on.
posted by bunnytricks at 9:12 AM on February 21, 2009 [3 favorites]

Oh, wow. I wasn't ready for this this morning.

The things we can do to one another…it is absolutely terrifying.
posted by paisley henosis at 9:12 AM on February 21, 2009 [2 favorites]

Good morning to you, too.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:19 AM on February 21, 2009

Well, at least MetaFilter allowed kliuless to experience a vicarious thrill for today.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:23 AM on February 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

posted by nasreddin at 9:28 AM on February 21, 2009

Oh man, look at those cavemen go.

It's the freakiest show...
posted by Aquaman at 9:49 AM on February 21, 2009

Is this Darfur, Sudan or any number of places in Africa at one time or another? What the hell can we do about this? Well, easy, bring economic relief and investment into Africa.
posted by Leper_Messiah at 9:52 AM on February 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

I thought this post was going to be about Cormac McCarthy.
posted by m0nm0n at 10:14 AM on February 21, 2009 [2 favorites]

We laugh that we may not cry.
posted by stet at 10:21 AM on February 21, 2009

Every time I think about how my life "sucks", I think about the real victims of human cruelty and indifference, whether they are the ones described in the links above or others whose sufferings are less likely to be noticed.

It is a horrible cycle that seems almost impossible to stop, where some victims eventually become the aggressors, where greed and desire trump good will and good intentions.

What to do?
- Close your eyes tightly and hope it goes away?
- Give money at it and hope that someone else come up with a solution?
- Join hands, sing a song and hope that each of the world's despots is moved to tears (a-la-Grinch who Stole Christmas) by our determination and good will?
- Demand that the military go in and kill all the bad guys (but not our military of course)


I don't know - I'll get back to you if I think of something...
posted by bitteroldman at 10:22 AM on February 21, 2009

You guys ever read the Hebrew Bible or Psalms? It's full of precisely the same antics described on the FPP -- including more than a few actual and wished babies' skulls dashed against rocks. When it comes to describing the atrocities, real or imagined, of your enemies, the same themes tend to reoccur down through the ages.
posted by Faze at 10:24 AM on February 21, 2009 [2 favorites]

Indeed, at the start of the invasion of Iraq, we heard about Saddam's soldiers throwing newborns to the floor of hospitals, ripping out IVs, etc.
posted by stinkycheese at 10:27 AM on February 21, 2009

Wasn't the internet supposed to have stopped this sort of thing by now?
posted by longsleeves at 10:31 AM on February 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

The framing of this post totally missed the point. Supplying no attribution or context for anonymous atrocities? That's just an excuse to wallow in the misery of others.

A responsible take on these matters places the -who- front and center: the names of the victims, the motivations of the perpetrators, the possibilities for justice.

For something so serious, this is a remarkably lazy, self-satisfied post.
posted by anotherpanacea at 10:31 AM on February 21, 2009 [4 favorites]

Every big media event needs what journalists and flacks alike refer to as "the hook." An ideal hook becomes the central element of a story that makes it newsworthy, evokes a strong emotional response, and sticks in the memory. In the case of the Gulf War, the "hook" was invented by Hill & Knowlton. In style, substance and mode of delivery, it bore an uncanny resemblance to England's World War I hearings that accused German soldiers of killing babies...

Three months passed between Nayirah's testimony and the start of the war. During those months, the story of babies torn from their incubators was repeated over and over again. President Bush told the story. It was recited as fact in Congressional testimony, on TV and radio talk shows, and at the UN Security Council. "Of all the accusations made against the dictator," MacArthur observed, "none had more impact on American public opinion than the one about Iraqi soldiers removing 312 babies from their incubators and leaving them to die on the cold hospital floors of Kuwait City."

posted by stinkycheese at 10:32 AM on February 21, 2009 [5 favorites]

stinkycheese - I can't decide which word to click on.
posted by gman at 10:33 AM on February 21, 2009

take your pick.
posted by stinkycheese at 10:34 AM on February 21, 2009

The killers breed or the demons seed,
The glamour, the fortune, the pain,
Go to war again, blood is freedoms stain,
But dont you pray for my soul anymore.
2 minutes to midnight
The hands that threaten doom.
2 minutes to midnight

To kill... the unborn... in the womb!

posted by KokuRyu at 10:37 AM on February 21, 2009 [2 favorites]

BABIES’ skulls dashed against rocks
Hutus nipping at your nose...
posted by markkraft at 11:08 AM on February 21, 2009

stinkycheese: Indeed, at the start of the invasion of Iraq, we heard about Saddam's soldiers throwing newborns to the floor of hospitals, ripping out IVs, etc.

This has been known to be a blatant hoax for the past eighteen years, although it did serve as a key piece of propaganda which was used to get the US into the Gulf War.
The woman who testified and made such claims turned out to be a member of the Kuwaiti royal family, daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the US, and had not even been in Kuwait at the time and coached by the PR firm Hill and Knowlton.

It's a shame that story is still kicking around as true.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:10 AM on February 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

On post-preview: duh.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:10 AM on February 21, 2009

Obviously these things *do* happen, but I think the Kuwait hospital story illustrates that, when you hear about babies being dashed against rocks and so, it's wise to take some deep breaths and do some investigating before you go all irrational trying to punish the evildoers or whatever.
posted by stinkycheese at 11:30 AM on February 21, 2009 [3 favorites]

It's a horror show. I sometimes wish we could wipe those animals off the planet. Civilization is making some progress in the macro sense. We are aware of the atrocities, but we just don't do enough to stop them (e.g. Rwanda, Darfur, et. al.)
posted by sswiller at 11:33 AM on February 21, 2009

Life is hell. Why dwell on it?
posted by wayofthedodo at 11:35 AM on February 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

What a sad and tragic story.

On the positive side, apparently no men were hurt. Not a lot of solace there, though.
posted by rr at 12:08 PM on February 21, 2009

re: [my] vicarious (and self-satisfied*) thrills

the post or the article?

if the former i plead not guilty to atrocity/outrage tourism; i read and listen to at least understand and share, if not act... why else?**

if the latter, it admittedly is provocative, but i submit that that's because what's happened and happening _is_ provocative (the way i believe the economist author sans-byline intended) same as it ever was, sure, but neither is it license to dismiss and ignore if we're to consider ourselves a moral and progressive society, i don't think... i mean i wonder about _schindler's list_ or george clooney in darfur as much as the next person, but it doesn't take away from what everyone should feel deeply disturbed by -- i don't normally seek it out, but i welcome people who are compelled enough to bring injustice (wherever it may be) to our attention -- maybe there is no justice (or that it's only 'local' or 'contextual'), but learning is a start and perhaps institutions like the ICC/ICJ, however imperfect, can help in bringing about a more humane world, where human rights are defended and its abuses prosecuted instead of tolerated and accepted, while an idle population stands implicated?

*lazy & complacent, yea; i have not catalogued or prosecuted war crimes like forges & ponte, which are addressed in the links
**or, if like reading cormac mccarthy is intellectually/emotionally stimulating if not pleasurable, then yea... distance matters
posted by kliuless at 12:21 PM on February 21, 2009

Candy apples and razor blades
Little dead are soon in graves
I remember Hallo-

oh shit, is that not what we're doing?
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:36 PM on February 21, 2009

Um, ya know, Never Again. Right?
posted by IvoShandor at 2:11 PM on February 21, 2009

It's a horror show. I sometimes wish we could wipe those animals off the planet.

Great idea! What could possibly go wrong!
posted by odinsdream at 2:29 PM on February 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Pick a reason to flag:
[   ] fantastic post
[   ] double post
[   ] HTML/display error
[   ] offensive/sexism/racism
[   ] it breaks the guidelines
[   ] other
[ X ] this is a remarkably lazy, self-satisfied post
posted by mattdidthat at 2:39 PM on February 21, 2009 [3 favorites]

You guys ever read the Hebrew Bible or Psalms? It's full of precisely the same antics described on the FPP -- including more than a few actual and wished babies' skulls dashed against rocks.

I recall three instances of "wished babies' skulls dashed against the rocks": (1) at the end of Psalm 137, which is essentially a song written in a Jewish internment camp after the Babylonians had laid siege to Jerusalem, plundered the Temple, killed the princes, blinded the king, and hauled off the most promising of the younger generation to exile. (2) in Isaiah 13, which is an oracle against the Babylonians, expressing similar sentiment. (3) in Nahum 3, which is a similar prophetic oracle against the Assyrian Empire, which overran Israel in much the same way that Babylon.

There are other passages that mention the deaths of infants without specifying the manner of death or that indicate something other than dashing their heads against the rocks. These are normally part of an oracle or command to completely wipe out a given enemy

Deuteronomy 32:25--another prophetic vengeance oracle

1 Samuel 15:3--command to destroy all of the Amalekites. (This is a somewhat infamous passage where God is angry with King Saul for sparing the Amalekite king and some animals.)

1 Samuel 22:19--record of King Saul's atrocities against Nob, a city of priests. (The whole little village was wiped out by one man, Doeg the Edomite, who was apparently the Rambo of the ancient Near East.)

The most well-known non-battle context for infanticide is Pharaoh's command to kill all the male Hebrew babies in Exodus 1, setting the stage for setting baby Moses in a basket and putting him in the Nile to spare his life. There's an echo of this in the New Testament: Matthew 2:16, when King Herod ordered all the boys in Bethlehem under two years old to be killed--this was in his attempt to be sure that Jesus was dead. In in ironic twist, Jesus was taken to safety in Egypt--site of the previous royal command to kill male babies.

I may have missed something, but I believe that's a reasonably complete list. These kinds of atrocities are certainly recorded in the Bible. Given the place and time that produced the scriptures, it would be remarkable if they weren't. I would disagree that the Hebrew Bible is "full of precisely the same antics described in the FPP." Given the sheer size of the canon, there are only a handful of these horrific accounts--not that that makes them any less disturbing.

Yours in the interest of specificity,
posted by Pater Aletheias at 4:40 PM on February 21, 2009

It's a horror show. I sometimes wish we could wipe those animals off the planet.

I'm just going to have to assume that this is satire. Right?
posted by Pater Aletheias at 4:42 PM on February 21, 2009

Pater Aletheias, I'm no Biblical expert, but given the repeated incidents of tribal genocide in the Old Testament, I think you're missing a few:

Numbers 31:17
17. Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.
18. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.

So I guess the girls skate out on that one. Tough luck, boys.

Deuteronomy 3:6
The Israelites utterly destroy the men, women, and children of Og.

Joshua 6:21
21 And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.

Joshua 6:25 Twelve thousand men and women fell that day—all the people of Ai.

Just run through Joshua for a while, one could get tired citing all of the tribes which were "utterly destroyed." That would kinda include killing the babies. The method is largely irrelevant, unless someone's picked up the culling song from Lullabye along the way.

And, hey, I'm not even going into the "take the virgin girls for yourselves" sections, of which there are many. It appears that the comment about the Hebrew Bible being remarkably similar to the described atrocities is borne out.

Yours in the interest of not-splitting-hairs,
posted by adipocere at 6:21 PM on February 21, 2009 [3 favorites]

I would like to point out that coverage of bunnies in the MSM is under-represented in this post.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:32 PM on February 22, 2009

The things we can do to one another…it is absolutely terrifying

You should see what we do to RealDolls.
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:43 PM on February 22, 2009

Okay kliuless, I'll try this again: what, exactly, is the point of a post or comment merely listing atrocities, from several different wars and conflicts, in different regions and from both historical and contemporary time periods, all mixed up? You claim to read and understand, but nothing in the words you have composed here, or your selection of quotes, indicates that understanding.

Next time, try to figure out what you want to say, ask yourself who your audience is, and what you want to tell them. Your post answers a question nobody asked: "Does shit happen? Does anybody care?" A better question might be: "Who are the primary victims of war, soldiers or civilians?" Or how about, "How can we prevent the needless suffering of civilians?" "Is there hope for an International Criminal Court?" These are questions that people actually want answered.

"What can be done and who is to blame?" Narrative and photographic depictions of suffering that don't serve those functions are tasteless. Shoved in next to the flash games, the gadget lust, and the music videos, a post like this depicts suffering as a free-floating entertainment. If that's not misery tourism, what is?

Perhaps your post suffers a lack of focus because English is your second language. If so, I recommend composing in your first language and then self-translating. That way, you can see the flaws before you press 'send.'
posted by anotherpanacea at 3:16 PM on February 22, 2009

thanks for the advice...

i hate to ask, but did you read the article(s)? i (lazily) c&p'd the first paragraph because it was shocking -- i'd do it differently if i could given the/your reaction -- but it was meant to get ppl's attention to hopefully click and keep reading, which i believe is the function of a mefi FPP; all the articles are about 'what can be done' cuz, obviously, what is being done is not enough (my post included)...

fwiw, here's the last graph from the forges link:

One story is revealing. In Burundi, Rwanda’s neighbour, tens of thousands of civilians were slaughtered in 1993. The Western media barely noticed. Hutu officers in Rwanda concluded that they could do the same thing, and no one would give a damn. Mrs Des Forges wanted to document such atrocities so meticulously, and publicise them so persistently, that people would have to give a damn. Her book was called, after a killer’s cry, “Leave None to Tell the Story”. She knew that story-telling matters.
posted by kliuless at 4:44 PM on February 22, 2009

story-telling matters

Indeed it does. And what story have you told in your links? Nicholas Kristof's? Alison Des Forges's? Carla Del Pointe's? What, exactly, do these each of these people have to do with the bashing of baby's skulls? What do they have to do with the conflict in Gaza? Why couldn't you be bothered to figure it out before you posted?

i hate to ask, but did you read the article(s)?

I did. The thing I'm wondering is: did you?
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:20 PM on February 22, 2009

um, that they're reporting on mass murder and trying to bring those responsible to justice? that war crimes are (allegedly) still occurring and it deserves to be pointed out?
posted by kliuless at 6:03 PM on February 22, 2009

Horror. And the realization that everywhere in the world people resort to the same methods. Sadly it brings back memories of my country in the 80s, Shining Path burning down entire villages, women raped, children taken, not knowing if you were going to make it back home that night after work or your family, bombs going all day...and having to just keep on living.
posted by ratita at 7:53 AM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

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