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Blame Assignment 101.

Blame Assignment 101.

In Memoriam, Nick Berg

I haven’t seen the video. I don’t wish to see the video. The various internet sites via which the gruesome murder of Nick Berg can be viewed all attempt to justify making the video available by way of platitudes like, “We think you should see what humanity is capable of.” Here’s a news flash: I know what Humanity is capable of. I’ve read papers, news accounts of murders, crime-scene photographs, and yes, of the Hiroshima bomb and its aftermath. I do not need to be shown six thugs who are delusionally convinced that they are carrying out the glory and majesty of God by beheading (if you can call having one’s head sawed off with a dull knife a beheading) a hapless, misguided American.

Sitting here, watching the 20+ news channels try assigning blame to 20+ different people/situations. So we’re going to find out to whom we can assign blame.

First there are the terrorists responsible. These are men who have already been engaged in acts of tyranny and horror. They are, in short, psychopaths. They did this. Therefore they are to blame.

But what of young Nick? He did, after all, wander into their hands by being in the middle of a war zone. Does he not have some culpability? Especially given the fact that he voluntarily turned down safe transport from the region. If he had listened to the US forces who detained him, he’d be home, safe, pissed, and alive. Yet he’s dead.

And why was he there in the first place? Did it have anything to do with a war? A war we waged on false pretenses and with false goals? A war demanded and led by the President. Is not the President partly to blame? How about Saddam Hussein and his damned party? Maybe we should go back further. To the British, who created Iraq when they were the imperialist powers of the last century. Surely absent the Crown sending forth troops to conquer the world, we would not be mired in this festering swamp.

There are various levels of blame here. All involved share some part of the reason for Nick Berg’s murder. Operative word: reason. Blame and reasons are two different things. Culpability does not extend from having reasons to have committed an act. I might have a reason for throwing my cup across the room. Acting on that reason–albeit misguided–is the point at which we can assign blame.

As much as I detest the politics and policies of George W. Bush and the neo-conservative republicans, as much as I hate the Hussein-regime, as much as I disapprove of the efforts to ‘liberate’ a people by conquering them, I cannot place blame on anyone other than the men who captured, tortured, and murdered Nick Berg. The blame is theirs.