“It is natural that big fish eat little fish -though it may not seem natural to the little fish.” -Herbert Marcuse.
The Wizard of Oz.
The classic story of the innocent and good versus the nasty and bad. For the few who might not have actually seen the movie, they most certainly have heard of it and witnessed it’s multiple pop-cultural influences.
Of the many images that are most memorable from the movie, perhaps one of the most famous (besides the “suicide in the trees” and “Dark Side of the Moon”) is that of The Wicked Witch of the West. Remember her? Black dress. Pointy hat. Green scary face. Raspy voice. And those nails that sparked with she tried to touch the ruby slippers. Yup. No doubt about it. Pure evil. She was definitely the “bad guy”, and nobody was sad when she melted into the floor.
She was the villain, and therefore due to her comeuppance. It didn’t matter that her sister was killed and then the body robbed of a valuable family heirloom. Villains aren’t allowed to seek real justice or righteous vengeance. Their only motivations are simplified into a nasty disposition, groundless anger, or greed.
It makes it so much easier to kill them that way.
They’re Iraqis, young men, fighting for Saddam Hussein. They’ve captured and killed American soldiers. They’re the “bad guys”. Heck, we’ve even neatly tagged them as “The Axis of Evil”, a title that leaves no gray area for realism. If hundreds, and even thousands are killed in one allied thrust into Baghdad to leave a military calling card, then it’s okay. They’re the villains, and if they’re not for us, they deserve to melt into the floor.
They’ve been accused of using tactics that break the rules of war. Of hiding Soldiers among the civilians and using guerilla fighting techniques. How dare they? That just proves how villainous they really are. Or how stupid, as those pesky villains can be. They shouldn’t be fighting back anyway. We have come sweeping in on our proverbial white horse to rescue them. Don’t they know that?
It’s so easy to judge them, when we are thousands of miles away. So easy to click our tongues at the strategies they have devised, critiquing the legality and morality of the pockets of resistance. So easy to let their casualties be announced briefly, letting our eyes glaze over as we give lip service to what a shame the loss is while secretly cheering that their loss was greater than ours. If body count were a scoreboard, they’d be losing. And then we can congratulate the “good guys” on passing out provisions of food and water to the newly liberated (surviving) citizens. It would ruin the plot if we considered that the reason they needed provisions is because our troops interfered with the normal system of delivery.
But I wonder just how well we would do if we were not thousands of miles away. What if it was the Iraqi tanks rolling through our city, their troops marching with righteous indignation -set on saving us from the tyrant in the White House. Imagine them dropping bombs on shopping centers and dropping leaflets informing us that resistance will be considered siding with the enemy and instructions on how to surrender peacefully.
What if you knew that this invading enemy had the upper hand in all counts and intended to fully capitalize on it? Do you honestly believe that we would adhere to the rules of war? What rules? When it comes down to protecting your family, your home, your life, do you think you would honestly consider what “rules” you are required to follow to play fair? Rules that were invented by the very people who are now invading your country and bombing your cities.
It’s easy to vilify the witch for sending out her flying monkeys, but just remember whose sister got killed and who was wearing the stolen ruby slippers.
Run, Toto. Run.