My country is my country even when it makes me sad

Facebook is a miraculous site. Through it, I keep in touch at least provisionally, with many, many more friends than would otherwise be possible. Through my news feed I can maintain a running commentary on my friends reading habits and be exposed to media documents I might otherwise never see. To keep things in perspective, though, my engagement with most everything that crosses my screen is pretty superficial.

Serendipity plays a large role in what I end up watching. My friends are pretty prolific with the videos, audio, links, essays, poems, etc. Just last week, I saw a link to something on the New York Times website, and while I was there, I picked up a story that has had deep and rather persistent impact on my outlook since I began following it. Most of the media I encounter on a daily basis is pretty superficial. Rarely have I seen anything that is as disturbing as this. Since I first watched this clip, I’ve been besieged with memories and hints of stories yet to be written. I’ve been considering the possibility (and wisdom?) of writing a narrative account of the events, of possibly doing some back ground research and writing a Dan Eldon: The Art of Life styled account of the events leading up to the tragic events depicted in this video.

In any case, this video is hosted by a website called www.wikileaks.org that hosts “leaked” documents and other media that would traditionally be regarded as of a sensitive nature. This particular video was taken by the camera in a U.S. gun helicopter in Iraq during an “engagement” with alleged “enemy combatants” that left two employees of Reuters dead; initially thought to be armed insurgents, the “enemy combatants” proved to be unarmed civilians, including two Reuters photographers, “armed” only with cameras.  The last people to be shot in this “incident” were two adult men and two children who rolled up in a van and attempted to rescue one of the photographers who were at that point still alive.  To host this video, wikileaks has set up a separate website called www.collateralmurder.com.

Be forewarned, the video is a graphic and unrelenting depiction of the gritty unreality of this war in Iraq/Afghanistan. Like crime scene technicians and others who have to wade hip-deep in death and destruction on a regular basis, the soldiers are overheard callously dismissing the suffering of their targets. At one point, the soldiers are heard laughing about Brads (as in Bradley tanks) running over bodies (one of the voices responds to this information with a hearty, “Fuck yeh!” as though he’d just scored big points on a video game). Indeed, the video is grainy and raw, as removed from the action as an old time single shooter video game.

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