Is laughing about war bad or good? Do we need to find ways
to remember not to forget, even at what may seem to be black humor?
Find out what the Iraqi Information Minister has to say about it all.
19, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 584
The Toys Of Terrorism
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZERO, New York City, Apr. 19--Black humor has wormed its way
into the war on Iraq. The key "action figure" being sold
these days is the "Iraqi Dis-informaiton Minister Action Figure Doll,"
a replica of Iraq's wartime spokesperson Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf.
Dis-information Minister action figure Doll" Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf
aka Baghdad Bob
around $30 you can purchase the doll that spouts different sayings
attributed to al-Sahaf, including his most famous comment as American
tanks rolled into the heart of Baghdad:
are no Americans infidels in Baghdad, never. Our initial assessment is
that they will all die. I am not scared and neither should you be.
They're not even within 100 miles of Baghdad."
al-Sahaf reporting in Baghdad
Daily, the information minister issued reports from the Palestine
Hotel to the world press promoting the defeat of American troops.
He has become a legend of "disinformation," and recent reports suggest
he hanged himself.
I hope not.
In a world of madness, often defined by
Complacency and wishy-washy viewpoints that rattle one's mind,
Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf stood out as a man of utter conviction.
Even the reality of American bombs dropping in the background and the
zinging of bullet overhead didn't deter his laser focus on supporting
If there ever was a flag-waver worthy of
history's notation, it is without question, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf.
And, he's not gone unnoticed.
A company, herobuilders.com, has manufactured a
doll that sings out some of the information minister's most famous
quotes (see above photo of doll). In the aftermath of the
war, web sites such as
, have sprouted up, carrying a host of his sayings.
When the site was launched it received more than 4,000 hits per hour.
Selected Baghdad Bob Quotes
"There are no American infidels in Baghdad.
"My feelings - as usual - we will slaughter
"Our initial assessment is that they will
"I blame Al-Jazeera - they are marketing for
"God will roast their stomachs in hell at
the hands of Iraqis."
"They're coming to surrender or be burned in
"No I am not scared, and neither should you
"Be assured. Baghdad is safe, protected"
"Who are in control, they are not in control
of anything - they don't even control themselves!"
"We are not afraid of the Americans. Allah
has condemned them. They are stupid. They are stupid" (dramatic
pause) "and they are condemned."
"The Americans, they always depend on a
method what I call ... stupid, silly. All I ask is check yourself.
Do not in fact repeat their lies."
"I can say, and I am responsible for what I
am saying, that they have
started to commit suicide under the walls of Baghdad. We
will encourage them to commit more suicides quickly."
"I can assure you that those villains will
recognize, will discover in appropriate time in the future how
stupid they are and how they are pretending things which have
never taken place."
"We have destroyed 2 tanks, fighter planes,
2 helicopters and their shovels - We have driven them back."
"The authority of the civil defense ...
issued a warning to the civilian population not to pick up any of
those pencils because they are booby traps," he said, adding that
the British and American forces were "immoral mercenaries" and
"war criminals" for such behavior.
"I am not talking about the American people and the British
people," he said. "I am talking about those mercenaries. ... They
have started throwing those pencils, but they are not pencils,
they are booby traps to kill the children."
"We have them surrounded in their tanks"
"The American press is all about lies! All
they tell is lies, lies and more lies!"
"Lying is forbidden in Iraq. President
Saddam Hussein will tolerate nothing but truthfulness as he is a
man of great honor and integrity. Everyone is encouraged to speak
freely of the truths evidenced in their eyes and hearts."
"Now even the American command is under
siege. We are hitting it from the north, east, south and west. We
chase them here and they chase us there. But at the end we are the
people who are laying siege to them. And it is not them who are
Photo buffs have carved his image into comical
portraits, depicting the irony of his statements. One such site,
bursts with retouched images of the
information minister, Saddam Hussein, George Bush and a cast of other
characters, recalling in visual humor the insanity of war itself.
Below are listed some
of the photos and more fascinating comments from the information
But how does humor, especially black humor,
play a role in healing the wounds of war? How can a doll salve
the blisters of thousands of dead caught in the holocaust that bombs
and bullets brings not only to a country, but to a world.
splatters its blood on all, even the most distant.
A child watching a television news scene of
bombs blowing up receives the fallout of war, for there is, by mere
association, a responsibility to justify or oppose war to the child
who watches violence as the cure to human ills.
Sometimes, the only sane thing left for a
society is to laugh at the insanity of it all.
That's where black humor comes to play.
There is no evidence of U.S. presence in Baghdad"
emotions are not unlike a pressure cooker. Along the line, as
the water boils, it must escape. Laughter is one of the
key vents to releasing the pressure.
Heller's famous WWII satire, Catch 22, he turns the issue of war into
a play of insanity. His characters, bombing mission
pilots, are all insane. They are forced to deal with the
brutality of death and its bloody impact on their lives and the lives
of others, by acting like children. The main character in
the book climbs a tree and sits in the branches, contemplating life
and death as a vulture or peace dove might, the reader never sure
which viewpoint is his, only that both play a part.
In the famous television series M.A.S.H., medical
teams operating on the wounded in Korea, mix cocktails and humor with
broken bodies and dying soldiers, trying to survive with some humanity
left in tact as they try and save a warrior so he can go out and fight
show Mash cast
The other evening
on TBS Television, the movie Castle Keep was replayed for the
zillionth time. It is about a group of soldiers who try
and protect a castle during World War II, but the cast of characters,
headed by Burt Lancaster who wears an eye patch, are all numbed by the
insanity of it all and struggle to preserve a few ounces of humanity
while acting in the most inhumane of ways--the killing of others.
Yesterday I sought some relief from all the war
madness. I went uptown to 21st Annual Pax Christi Metro
New York Good Friday Way Of The Cross. The group is comprised of
peace advocates who move throughout the heart of New York City on Good
Friday praying and offering peaceful protests against a variety of
businesses and institutions.
Using the Stations of the Cross as the roadmap, the first station was
the United Nations where at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza the group of about
200 recited the Prayer of St. Francis. At the next station they
prayed opposite the Nigerian Consulate, and then in front of Pfizer
drug company headquarters, protesting the lack of medical support in
underdeveloped countries. They included in their various
stations McDonald's, Starbucks, Walt Disney stores, the Armed Forces
Recruiting Station in Times Square, promoting themes such as "Brother
and Sisters Malnourished in the Midst of Plenty," "Brothers and
Sisters Deprived of Educational Opportunities," "Brothers and Sisters
Endangered by Racism," "Brothers and Sisters Exploited For Profit,"
"Brothers and Sisters Affected by Militarism."
There was no black humor in their offerings. The group
walked in silent prayer, reciting various prayers at each station,
seeking peace in a troubled world.
The event helped me
balance the insanity of black humor.
Like so many, I want the war to
be over and life to go on.
I want Terrorism to go away.
I want "life as usual."
I am reminded by the reality of life, that Terrorism doesn't
disappear. The Pax Christi group works for peace 365 days a
year, in good and bad times. It recognizes the Beast of
Terror may sleep but never dies. At any moment the Beast
can raise its head and breathe its fire and hate, igniting a world
Currently, we sit atop another powder
keg--North Korea --that is making nuclear bombs.
In Modesto, California a husband was
arrested yesterday for allegedly killing his wife who was eight months
pregnant on Christmas Eve. The Beast of Terror isn't
international, he thrives in our neighborhoods, our lives.
So, do we laugh or cry?
Both, I think, are better than
While on one side of the table might rest the hawks with all their
thirsts for war and violence, and the other side is filled with doves
fluttering in a tree screeching out the pain and anguish of war and
violence, the vast majority of people hide in the middle.
This is the unfortunate truth
of the issue. It is the insidiousness of Complacency.
Complacency is ignoring the
presence of the Beast of Terror--either from a pure peace and
non-violent vista, or from a war hawk viewpoint.
It is burying one's head in the
If all people were to realize
that the Beast of Terror was ever-present, then the odds are we as a
society would not let the Beast grow into such a size it could not be
managed. Pax Christi knows that, and tends daily to the business
of promoting peace. So do the hawks who sharpen their talons.
I'd like to
think everyone is a Sentinel of Vigilance
So, maybe the dolls and black humor rising out of the ashes of Iraq
isn't so bad. Maybe it is a palatable way to remind all those
millions of ostriches that they can't keep their heads in the sand,
they can't operate in a world of Terrorism without being Vigilant.
Maybe just laughing at the
insanity of it all is a way of maintaining consciousness, alertness,
readiness to defend one's self, family, neighborhood, society, country
and world from the future Wars of Terror.
I'd like to think that
everyone become a TerrorHunter if for no other reason than to assure
they have their eyes and ears open, and take stands on issues, right
or left, that would force resolutions before they turned in
I'd like to think everyone is a
Sentinel of Vigilance, and has taken the Pledge of Vigilance and lives
by its standards.
But, in the absence of perfection,
perhaps black humor will remind us of war's insanity. Perhaps
laughing at ourselves will stir within us the desire to protect our
children, and our Children's Children's Children from the Fear,
Intimidation and Complacency that Terrorism seeks to infect us with.
So maybe the doll of the
information minister isn't so bad after all.
Maybe it's a reminder to stand
up for what you believe, no matter how unbelievable it is.
Maybe Baghdad Bob's message
isn't so funny after all. Maybe his message is all about
Conviction in the face of Terror, and that, ultimately, isn't a
Way of the Cross - The Way to Peace - 21st Annual Pax Christi
Metro New York
18--Death Of A Fat Terrorist
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