Debating Statues


There's been some debate online about whether the recent statue-toppling in Iraq was "real" or "staged." As is often the case, it's the people arguing the event was faked who make me suspect it was actually real, and it's the other side's counterarguments that make me reconsider the notion that it was staged after all.

The most amusing comments I've seen on the matter come from the lefty writer Troy Skeels, via an e-mail list we both subscribe to. Some excerpts:

"I have to admit that I reconsidered my whole stance opposing this war when I realized that those people had been oppressed and brutalized all this time by that horrid statue.—Well of course we should drive a few tanks to Baghdad and help the Iraqis tear it down (God knows their tanks aren't up to it), what's the big deal? I had been under the impression they were going to kill people and stuff….

"The real conspiracy that the 'media' won't show you is that it wasn't even a statue of Saddam—but of one of his doubles. The real statue remains standing safely in a bunker somewhere, able to resume symbolizing the brutal dictatorship as soon as those right-thinking Indymedia debunkers let their guard down.

"But the scandal even Indymedia hasn't thought of yet is that the small crowd trying to tear down the statue wasn't doing it to celebrate their liberation, they were looting the damn thing (they've got the head listed on eBay) and the US military helped them do it.

"Of course, Rumsfeld has defended the looting as a natural stage in the evolution of a market democracy—soon they'll have electricity deregulation. Haliburton and other US corps are working night and day to bring properly regulated looting to Iraq as we speak—and having heard the word 'looting,' the IMF and World Bank have announced that they too will be helping the Iraqis liberate themselves some more—for one thing, there's a lot of pedestals gonna need new statues.

"And before long there will be a properly constructed US military base outside Basra, loaded with a modest compliment of nuclear weapons, and Iraq will finally have the Weapons of Mass Destruction this whole thing was designed to both prevent and enable. By then of course we'll be watching the public art in Syria taking a beating and we can go back to getting Iraq and Iran confused again (but only for a little while)."

NEXT: Woodrow Wilson Redux?

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  1. Tom, thanks!!

  2. The funny thing about the statue tear down is the absurd importance it will take on in online bloviation about the next middle eastern war, as we listen to ranting leftist imbeciles tell us that the reason Syria/Iran/Saudi Arabia/North Korea is being invaded is because the evil Bush Administration fooled the American people with their false statue toppling propaganda. (Which is, I think, close to Skeels’s point.)

    I saw it happen live on no less an organ of Bush propaganda than Foxnews, and they showed several long shots, during which you could tell that the crowd was pretty small. Pretty poor orchestration on their part. One wonders how they manage to control the world through such sloppy propaganda.

  3. That’s a good question. They’ve been sloppy on the runup to the war, sloppy on the domestic economy, sloppy on homeland security.

    The propaganda, though, has been relentlessly on message.

  4. Gee, Lefty. It’s AMAZING how often you’re right and the rest of the country doesn’t have a clue.

  5. Steve,

    Funny you should say that. Anyone reading and posting on this site probably feels they’re right and the rest of the country (or world) doesn’t have a clue. Lefty may or may not be right on this one, but your comment is sloppy reasoning. To invert and old saying, a billion Chinese people CAN be wrong. (Apparently they’re starting to think so themselves and want to get in on the wealth created by capitalism to some extent).

    Doug F,

    I’d like to agree that liberal writer = idiot, but it actually takes an acute intelligence to constantly twist the facts aroung to match one’s ideological preconceptions. After all, that’s why there are so many ‘social critics’ that look at the vibrant, diverse lifestyle of today’s America, filled with unprecedented wealth and opportunity to pursue one’s own idea of happiness, and end up seeing only alienation, economic malaise, lack of community and corporate/media conformism. It’s a sophisticated combo of denial and paranoid/conspiracy thinking at work here. Either that or they’re just a bunch of miserable people projecting their personalities on the rest of the world.

    (A bit off topic, but I felt like venting. I’m all better now….)

  6. Why is it important? The fact that anyone was able to topple it – staged or not – is the significant thing here.

  7. Mossad and the CIA flew in a bunch of extras from Los Angeles to Baghdad to topple a plastic statute made in Area 51. . . no wait, the whole thing was filmed in Area 51. . . including the war, which didn’t really happen. It was all faked in Nevada, which looks sort of like Iraq. To steal the oil. From . . . Mexico.

  8. Why do I get the feeling O.J. Simpson is somehow involved in this?

  9. Entertaining but ultimately silly and self serving writing.

    The one point I do wonder about though is the claim that it was a small crowd, which I’ve heard elsewhere. Anyone know anything else about that?

    Either way, it’s obvious that some people are overjoyed at the turn of events just as it’s equally obvious that it’s impossible to know what the unpolled silent majority of Iraqis think just as it’s also equally obvious that whatever they think now it could easily be something totally different (in any particular direction) in six month’s time.

  10. The fact that the Marines just happened to have the flag that flew over the Pentagon on 9/11 handy — doesn’t that suggest at least a little pre-planning? I’d say the truth is probably somewhere in the middle, a mixture of a couple dozen (or more) jubilant Iraqis combined with a United States PR machine that is a master of symbolism. I wouldn’t call it staged, but it probably wasn’t all that spontaneous, either.

  11. Fyodor,

    I ended up watching the whole thing live on CNN International. There was no shortage of wide shots of the area and, by my (admittedly amateur) estimate, I’d say the peak crowd was 300-400 (and the average was in the range of 100-200). There certainly wasn’t any attempt at deception in the live coverage since the anchors commented on the relatively modest size of the crowd and attributed it to a combination of a) this being a word of mouth gathering in a city with no power, b) sunset was approaching and the people of Baghdad were not unreasonably concerned about being out after dark, and c) there were more than a few ongoing firefights in the city including one at Baghdad University a few miles away (which was covered via split screen much of the time) and a couple of shots fired incidents in the vicinity of the statue which the soldiers periodically reacted to.

    The charge of deception I guess stems from the close-up shots of the statue falling which appeared later in the day. However, any shot which captured the statue in any detail would necessarily have shown the bulk of the crowd and not the empty square around them.


  12. Tee-hee, Jesse, very amusing. Quite.

    Hasn’t the phrase “leftist writer” by now become a synonym for “idiot”?

    Just wondering.

  13. propaganda is less about the production of the image and more about its distribution. at the same instant, many other “news” items were taking place. a choice was made that this one was news and another was not. to say that there has been no manipulation of public opinion during this conflict is just plain simple. it always surprises me that we americans seem to lack a skill held by the citizens of any totalitarian regime: the ability to read between the lines…

  14. >> it always surprises me that we americans seem to lack a skill held by the citizens of any totalitarian regime: the ability to read between the lines…

  15. Jim-

    Your comment is the funniest bit of self-negation I’ve ever seen. Normally, people make asinine arguments and critique them- your reversal of that was brilliant.

  16. I think it was an extra sensory projection into our TV’s by noneother than laught-riot cartoonist, Matt Tredeau.

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