Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Dead foreigners don't tell jokes

How seriously do serious American journalists take the fact that the 1990 Gulf War, ensuing sanctions regime and the 2003 invasion of Iraq killed hundreds of thousands of people – men, women and children with hopes and fears who were just as real as your or me? Choose from the following options:


With Iraq once again the precipice of national disintegration after Islamic insurgents swept through and captured much of the country's territory in the north from the central government in Baghdad, President Barack Obama announced he was dispatching hundreds of troops and military advisers to protect US interests in Baghdad. Drones are being deployed and air strikes are in the offing, which leads to the obvious question: Why don't we have a funny name for this half-assed intervention? And because we Americans are generally terrible and lack the ability to perceive the victims of imperial aggression outside our borders as real live human beings -- as Westerners -- a contest was thus born.

Operation Shiite Storm,” is what one anonymous reader -- let's call him "John Stuart" -- came up with, which two employees of The Washington Post thought was so god damn funny – “genius,” actually, and “so inspired” – that they asked the rest of their readers to weigh in on what funny name they would give this latest military operation. A heads up: none of them are remotely clever or funny because no one who works for The Washington Post is clever or funny and no one who thinks a Post employee or their stupid naming contests are funny or clever can themselves be funny or clever.
I mean, look: “Operation Baracking Bad." That's what someone came up with and some other people decided to publish, the humor derived from the fact that there was a show called “Breaking Bad” that aired for 5 seasons on AMC that had nice cinematography and which many people liked very much. A quick Internet search finds at least 4,500 other instances of this joke.

People. Aren't they the worst?

Of course, it's best not to think too much about these things -- why is that even funny, tell me, tell me why -- lest you become a dour, humorless leftist who gets all upset because a major publication deems it acceptable to recycle a 2003 joke comparing hundreds of millions of Shiites to fecal matter. You might become such a buzzkill that you'd point out that -- actually! -- the current "storm" in question, the one which the United Stages is deploying troops to Iraq in response, is largely the result of Sunni insurgents who hate Shiites.

Before the last of my faith in the Washington press corps was destroyed by my working in the Washington press corps, I would have said that Post reporters should quit the comedy contests and stick to their day jobs, but then this is sort of their job, or at least their function: to make light of the evil so that the public may remain ignorant of the unrelenting horror that is American foreign policy. Turn a war crime into a series of .gifs from "Saved by the Bell" and you just might have a future in Bezos-backed journalism; "speak truth to power" by speaking the truth about what the United States has done to the Sunnis and Shias of Iraq -- and a million dead Iraqis is no joke -- and, well, gosh: you're no fun. But maybe pitch it to Counterpunch?

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