NPR yesterday had a story that an aide to Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki defended the execution of Saddam Hussein. Turns out Italy is working on a UN resolution to ban the death penalty worldwide, and the Iraqi guy pointed out that Italian WWII leader Mussolini "was strung up on a lamppost."
Shorter Iraqi defense: what are you Eye-talians getting so uppity about, heh?
I've taught World War II history a couple times and I couldn't remember Mussolini getting strung up on a lamppost. Google Google Google...
Nope. He was shot by commies and then the commies who shot him to death let him "rest" for the night, so he would look really good the next day when they hung him by his feet from a meat hook at the town gate of Milan, along with his also gunned down mistress and fifteen of his entourage.
Left wing bloggers were correctly outraged by the snuff movie of Saddam. Certainly all of us knew enough about technology and human nature to know that there would be one, and that it would be available to anyone with a modem.
I was brought up short by all of these threads while doing the blog roundup over at Crooks and Liars. Someone sent me a link to a post they'd written, which as an aside suggested that a certain potential Presidential candidate might have to worry about assassination. I don't need to go any further than that and I won't, and I didn't link the post. (I had nothing against that particular blogger and linked to another post in his same blog.) You see, I don't want that possibility breathed anywhere near me, and I did not want to give larger audience to the thought, either.
I doubt my efforts will keep the lid on, nor do I suspect that crazies out there need any help from me in coming up with sick ideas.
But then we have much of the liberal blogosphere calling, with no small sense of justice, for war crimes tribunals for Rummy and Bush and the lot of them. If, and if, and if, what exactly do you think the sentence would be for their crimes against humanity? Should the leadership responsible for Abu Gahrib be hung by the neck until dead? Isn't that impetus the same felt by Italian Communists in the 1940's and the Iraqi "leadership" this month? Hell, Ben Metcalf in Harper's Magazine didn't sugarcoat it:
"Am I allowed to write that I would like to hunt down George W. Bush, the president of the United States, and kill him with my bare hands?"
I have a small poster in my workroom that says "I am against the death penalty. Look what happened to Jesus Christ." But does this mean, Jesus was put to death unjustly, or beware, he was elevated to martyrdom against the wishes of his slayers? We must be very careful what we wish for.
UPDATE: I remembered that none other than Al Franken has recommmended that we "never ever, ever, ever execute a sitting President."
A long book, not for the beach, but well-written and recommended: The Langum Prize Winner by Stuart Banner, The Death Penalty: An American History. Among other things it illustrates how our society has attempted to "sanitize" the death penalty over time to take away pain, lethal injection being only the latest attempt. (Electric Chair was seen as a great leap forward over hanging at one point. Faster and more "humane" if you can imagine.)
UPDATE 2: Interesting conversation over the Casa Blue Gal dinner table tonight. There is a difference between "execution" and "assassination" and one reason so many are arguing about Saddam's death is that his end blurred the lines between the two. Mussolini was executed by a political "party" willing to take responsibility for his death, but they were not the official government at the time. The legitimacy of the current Iraqi government plays into this whole debate, as well.