March 16th, 2008

breaking bad

Pawns, blobs, pieces of flesh

Today is the fortieth anniversary of the massacre at My Lai (disturbing image).

This Daily Mail article is a quick introduction, and worth reading in full (not the usual DM crap).

The instructions were clear, (Cally) says. They were to exterminate every last man, woman and child...

"We weren't in My Lai to kill human beings, really," he said later. "We were there to kill an ideology that is carried by - I don't know - pawns, blobs, pieces of flesh. I was there to destroy an intangible idea. To destroy communism. Killing those men in My Lai didn't haunt me."

His actions would have been inexcusable even if he really had only killed 'men' but among the 22 people - at a very conservative estimate - whom he personally shot was a child of about two, who was trying to run away.

That phrase - they were not people, they were just blobs of flesh carrying an ideology - makes my hair lift up on my head. Those pictures are like 'Night of the Living Dead'.

I don't, by the way, mean to single out the US as a unique exponent of this sort of dehumanisation. The British over the centuries, heck the Belgians in Africa, no doubt various African peoples in ancient atrocities which history may not record, and so on through every country on Earth I suppose.

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