When Colonel Gaddafi called the people of Benghazi “rats” and promised to eradicate them I was horrified, was this going to be another ‘Rwanda’, a situation where hundreds f thousands die as the entire world watches, impotently wringing its hands? That isnt what happened and to say that I breathed a sigh of relief is an understatement. However, I cannot say I supported the ensuring actions of NATO. Its one thing enforcing a no-fly zone and making sure that the Gaddafi armor can’t hurt civilians. It’s another thing overtly supporting the rebel action and, as I found out, bombing the convoy of a fleeing man.
It seems to me that all the news I get is about how Libya ‘should move forward’ and what it will be like now that ‘Gaddafi is gone’. And honestly, that is okay. But I totally disagree with is the ‘death porn’ that has been on the news. Why did we have to see the bruised and battered body of the Colonel? And so vividly? What was the point?
Today, the head of the BBC multimedia newsroom Mary Hockaday, defended its use of mobile phone images showing Gaddafi just moments before his death because, and it quote, “it was editorially justified to convey the scale of Thursdays dramatic and gruesome events. We judged that it was right to use some footage and stills, with warnings about their nature”. Can I call this statement total hogwash?
Britain is at war right now in Afghanistan and its troops are dying. The same goes to the United States. Who has ever seen the bloodied image of a US or British trooper? No one. What we’ve gotten in the news are respectful image of stoic, grieving families. And that is how it should be. No because it is ‘editorially justified’ but because that is what is right. The fact that bloodied bodies can be editorially justified in one case and not in another brings me to an uncomfortable topic: covert racism. They would have never crowed over the body of a lily-white man the way they did in Gaddafi’s last moments. The same goes for Saddam Hussein. After hanging him, what news value was there to show him strangled with his tongue lolling out? What bothered me the most in this saga are many people’s reactions to the grisly images. People are going on Twitter, a social media site, complaining that children could see the images: is that seriously their only complaint?
Why don’t they complain that NATO aircraft, using a UN Security Council resolution (which talked about saving civilians and enforcing a no-fly zone) actually bombed the Colonel as he attempted to flee from Sirte? Yes, as he was running away towards the southern border with Chad he was picked off. He wasn’t in a tank, an armored personnel carrier or even a pickup mounted with machine gun. No. He was in a SUV. He was clearly not taking offensive action.
I know that he wasn’t a good man or even a good president. He tortured people and imprisoned them unjustly. He sponsored international terrorism and had the unhappy knack of interfering in the domestic affairs of African nations. He rambled on and on during UN General Assemblies and he had weird female bodyguards (who didn’t do much for him in the end obviously). But let us not forget that he was a man. A man that did a lot of bad things but a lot of good things as well. We can talk about a post-Gaddafi Libya without acting in an unsavory fashion. Muamar Gaddafi is dead, stop making it such a titillating spectacle.