This is topic Sympathy for the Devil in forum Books, Films, Food and Culture at Hatrack River Forum.

To visit this topic, use this URL:;f=2;t=020216

Posted by Gottmorder (Member # 5039) on :
The song has nothing to do with this thread. [Razz]

As we all know, Saddam has been captured. When I saw the headlines I was overjoyed that the US had finally gotten him, after months in Iraq, that we had finally captured a horrible dictator.

But when I actually saw the footage of Saddam, I couldn't help but feel pity for the man. Once, he had everything, and he abused that power yes, but now we see him, scraggly, unresisting, and living in a hole. I saw Saddam as a humble man, and I could not help but feel for him, and what he must have been through.

At the same time, I know who he is, and what he was done, but I just can't help but to pity him.

Does anyone else think this?
Posted by Bokonon (Member # 480) on :
I would say humbled man, not humble.

But I agree. People like to dehumanize opponents. It's a big part of how people can do horrible things to other people. I'm sure it's how Saddam did it.

Seeing pictures can certainly break down the dehumanization.


[ December 14, 2003, 05:14 PM: Message edited by: Bokonon ]
Posted by mackillian (Member # 586) on :
Yeah. I actually can't even look at the pictures. There's something about the complete loss of dignity and...I can't exactly place what. I just can't look. It was even worse when they showed the photos of his dead sons months ago. I found that horrific, that they'd be displayed in newspapers, magazines, and constantly flashed on the TV. But Hussein looked like an old, beaten man.
Posted by Ralphie (Member # 1565) on :
It was even worse when they showed the photos of his dead sons months ago.
This was very disturbing to me, also.
Posted by Book (Member # 5500) on :
Disturbing place, disturbing times, I suppose.
Posted by mackillian (Member # 586) on :
Right, but the whole flashing of photos of the dead sons throughout a couple days was in bad taste. I bet that scared the crap out of a few kids. I understand that it's a disturbing place and time, but it'd be nice if people could realize what they CAN control and do so.
Posted by Book (Member # 5500) on :
Didn't they let everyone see the corpse of that one little boy that was brutally beaten at the start of the Civil Rights movement? I'm not saying this in argument, I'm genuinely asking. Was he on the cover of Life?

I know there's not much correlation in the circumstances, one was a victory trophy, the other was exposing the cruelty of people. But I guess if you wanted to make any kind of assumption from the two, I guess you could say something about how strong a symbol a dead body can be to people, and how much it can mean to them.
Posted by Storm Saxon (Member # 3101) on :
Given what Hussein is known to have done, is it morally correct to see him for his past and as a monster, or to focus on the present and see him as a human?
Posted by :Locke (Member # 2255) on :
Often we find that the monsters and boogeymen are really very human inside.
Posted by Storm Saxon (Member # 3101) on :
And vice versa, I'm sure.
Posted by bone (Member # 5277) on :
We just have to realize how evil men can really be. People should realize that Washington was just a man. Hitler just a charamatic leader who used his skills in a horrible manner. Saddam an aggressive leader who was willing to kill hundreds of thousands (if not millions).

We can peer into the face of evil and see ourselves and that can make you a little weak kneed. But just imagine all the families with out Sons, Fathers, Mothers, or Daughters because of this man. Then you realize that any fate for this man is too good.
Posted by mackillian (Member # 586) on :
You can be evil and human, just as you can be good and human. The point isn't to say that he didn't act as a monster, but to see that even a monster can be broken and beaten. It's sad to see anyone like that. It isn't a plea for clemency. He has to face the consequences of his actions, like any other human being would.

Possibly, seeing him as a human right now, can make what he did seem even worse. It's one thing for a monster to wreak havoc as he did, but another thing entirely for a human to do that to others.
Posted by jack (Member # 2083) on :
Book, is this the cover you were talking about book? Warning. . . even if it isn't, it's disturbing, so don't click on it people.

As disturbing as photos can be, there are pictures that I recall that made a huge impact on me. Some of them can be found here.


[ December 14, 2003, 06:26 PM: Message edited by: jack ]
Posted by pooka (Member # 5003) on :
The fact that his sons had been killed does cause me to pity him, having lost a son. I don't know why they are releasing those pictures again. It's not like the people of America need reassurance that they are dead.
Posted by Black Mage (Member # 5800) on :
What about that National Geographic cover with the woman with the bright green eyes?
Posted by mackillian (Member # 586) on :
LOVE that photo.
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
The truth is, no matter how many people may be inclined to believe it, in real life our enemies never turn out to be giant flaming eyes of evil. They are human beings, and just like everybody else they live their lives like they think they should, whether that leads them to good or evil. I think that it is right to pity those who choose poorly - if you were them, you'd think you deserve it.
Posted by Maccabeus (Member # 3051) on :
I had thought the capture might be some sort of sick joke when I read about it here this morning, and then I slept all day, so I just now saw the images.

Strange to say, the man looks like some of the older homeless people I have seen, or the feeble elderly people in one of the nursing homes around here. He looks pitiful. At first I didn't even realize it was him; he looked vaguely like a black actor I've seen somewhere on television. (No conspiracy theories please.)

Still, the moment I realized who it was, virtually all the sympathy vanished. Whatever unpleasantness he endured hiding out, he deserved it and more.
Posted by Alucard... (Member # 4924) on :
Not to shirk reality and delve into LOTR, but I cannot help thinking of Saruman hobbling down the road after he is utterly destroyed, with his only remaining loyal servant, Wormtongue at his heel.

I fear though that Saddam's situation is more grave than Saruman's, but I cannot help wonder what surprises he left for us with his now-defunct regime. In other words, perhaps the Shire is not without its changes for the worst. We just have yet to find out what Saddam did exactly. I just hope our discovery is not like one similar to a forgotten landmine.
Posted by jexx (Member # 3450) on :
I was surprised at how much compassion I felt for Saddam Hussein, the man, when I saw the pictures of him this morning on television. It doesn't lessen the fact that he needs to face the consequences of his tyranny, but it makes me realize that we need to be humane for ourselves, not for our enemies.

The Ouday/Qusay photos were atrocious and I close my eyes every time. I understand the journalistic glee of it, but I decry the overwhelming *everywhere* of them.


I am conflicted and confused but very hopeful that Saddam Hussein, the person, will get a fair trial.
Posted by Synesthesia (Member # 4774) on :
His eyes look rather pitiful. Perhaps I do feel sorry for him.
I also thought it was sick showing the bodies of his sun on television like that. Who needs to see that?
Posted by Human (Member # 2985) on :
I felt the same kind of pity...we reviled him and hated him...and now he's just a broken, powerless old man. A rather dramatic fall.
Posted by Ralphie (Member # 1565) on :
jack - Thank you for that link.
Posted by LR (Member # 5109) on :
I don't feel pity for the I'd get modded if I typed it. He's poisoned and gassed neighbors and his own countrymen. He raped his own people under the oil for supplies policies, in stead of distributing the food and medicine like he supposed to, he squeezed his fist on them even more. He displayed amazing abuse of power. Not to say our own politicians don't abuse their power but for the most part its two different ballparks.
Personally I can't wait to see his people put him on trial. I hope they dont execute him but rub his face in the dirt as much as possible. Daily beatings by guards, eggings by children while confined in stocks etc. Make a monster into a small rat thats the best fate for a dictator. [Party]
Posted by Mrs.M (Member # 2943) on :
What about that National Geographic cover with the woman with the bright green eyes?
Black Mage, that's the Afghan Girl and they recently tracked her down and took another picture. You can find both here:
Posted by LadyDove (Member # 3000) on :
I'm reading Crystal City right now.


I was very disturbed that Alvin wasn't intuitively concerned for the soldiers that were on the bridge. I struggled with the idea that Arthur, the apprentice, had the greater capacity to love all.

I think that when good people are forced to make a terrible choice, it is natural to temporarily override our empathy to allow us to do what must be done. What I fear are those who rejoice in another's weakness or degradation; even if the other person "deserves" it.

Alvin, once made aware of the soldiers' plight, trys to help when the soldiers release their implements of war. He does not sit back and weigh their relative humanity to his own. He doesn't rejoice that they'd only be getting what they deserve.

I think that in the case of a man such as Saddam Hussein, who has taken so much, caused so much death and pain and hatred; it does us no credit to continue to deal out death and pain and hatred.

If it were my choice, I'd make those feelings of revenge disappear and in their place I'd put a feeling of "this is completed, let's move on to the next thing." The name Saddam would be the same as saying "stench of decay"- nothing charged with pity, anger or hatred, just disgust, taboo and a compulsion to purify yourself.

Then again, if it were my choice, men of his calibur would be recognized as sociopaths and locked-up rather than placed in a position of power. If wishes were fishes.....
Posted by Black Mage (Member # 5800) on :
She aged so fast. . .

But she still has the same eyes. I always imagined, if and when the Amazons existed, they would have eyes like that. Fierce, really. . .

Copyright © 2008 Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.

Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2