James Foley’s critics are the real cowards

James Foley. Image via marquette.edu
James Foley. Image via marquette.edu

And when I talk about his critics, I don’t just mean Charles C. Johnson (although, seriously, screw that guy).

Since news of Foley’s beheading by ISIS first broke, I’ve seen enough depressing Facebook “debate” that basically argues that gee, isn’t it sad that this journalist was slaughtered – but couldn’t he have been a little bit more “Braveheart” about the whole thing?

Where was the resounding cry of “FREEEDUUUUUM”? And how DARE he read an anti-American text before he was slashed to death?

OK, so, here’s the deal, you miserable idiots:

Heroism is going into a war zone to cover the kind of stuff that would make *most* people piss their pants before scampering off to cover the designer cupcake beat for Better Homes and Gardens for the rest of their lives.

Heroism is NOT telling everyone about how YOU personally would morph into Aragorn, son of Arathorn, and deliver a gorgeously backlit “Men of the West” speech while facing certain doom at the hands of an extremist maniac.

Death in conflict zones is often messy, horrific, banal and humiliating.

Death in conflict zones is NOT like the movies you watch on Netflix in the relative comfort of your safe home while jacking off to visions of yourself as a fearless commando and handsome battlemage.

Also, there are other captives there besides Foley. Who knows what would have happened to them had Foley tried to spoil ISIS’ gruesome PR stunt.

Also, you people know nothing. You don’t know what it’s like to deal with constant violence. You sure as hell don’t know what it’s like to be a hostage. Only the people who have gone through that know. Patronizing such people with your own bullshit version of what it means to be a “hero” exposes both your ignorance and childish desire to appear tougher than you are. And in the case of Foley, you’re playing a game of big dick willy with a dead person. Congratulations!

Isn’t it bad enough that Foley’s family has lost their son? Isn’t it bad enough that Foley is now being used both in nihilist jihadist PR, as well as death porn-style “journalism” popularized by the NY Post? Isn’t it bad enough that someone who was this brave, and this talented – and I really must stress the BRAVE part for all of you who have never known war and lawlessness and horror – is lost?

I’m not even going to get into the assertion that Foley basically deserved his fate because he wasn’t into guns and Mitt Romney. Whoever wrote that can go to hell.

Please read Max Fisher’s tribute to James Foley instead.

Dagestani terrorists and their live-in girlfriends

WARNING. Do NOT click on this link if you don’t want to be subjected to the sight of a dead woman’s body.

The Russian press is referring to the woman in the picture as Sabina Musayeva – the “common law wife” of terrorist leader Soltan Sayid Soltanov.

You don’t really see pictures like this in the American media, do you? In recalling 9/11, I remember how we were spared the worst of it on our own TV channels, for example. The gruesomeness was not dealt with head-on. It is considered exploitative and sensationalist and disrespectful, to show the real effects of terror and the war on terror.

In the second picture, Musayeva’s hijab has been removed, and her gun is gone. You can see that she was shot in the head. Not really sure what’s going on here. Of course, plenty of people will start yelling about how, “Evil special forces guys from Russia put the gun in the poor woman’s hand after the fact! She was merely an innocent victim!” I don’t know – some people will automatically brand everything that Russian special forces do in the region as treacherous and barbaric. I’m willing to bet that the pictures are real, and that Musayeva went down fighting – her brother, Aslan Musayev, accidentally blew himself up a while back, while experimenting with explosives. I don’t get what these people are fighting for  (please don’t say “Freeeeeeduuuuuum!”, Mel Gibson) – and never have. I’m just oddly glad that the Russian media shows the reality of the conflict. It’s ugly, really ugly. And it may not be over for a long time.

I don’t feel any sympathy for people who order terror attacks. I don’t really care about “what influenced their motives” or else “the geopolitical factors” that are surely “at play.” My view on it is simplistic – terrorists are nihilists, and the atmosphere of nihilism is infectious. We’re all living in it. Every time I ride the Moscow metro at rush hour, I dwell on this basic fact.

Rest in peace, Anna

anna yablonskaya

Playwright Anna Yablonskaya is among the dead at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport today. We heard it from her family.

This photo of Anna was taken by my husband a few years ago – back when he wasn’t my husband. As you can see, Anna was very beautiful. She left behind her husband – and a little girl.

One of my favourite plays by Anna is called “Семейные сцены” (“Family scenes”) – and it’s one of my favourite plays in general. It’s about a modern Ukrainian family – the husband comes home after serving as a mercenary overseas, and has zero interest in his wife. The wife is sleeping with their son’s teacher. They neighbours all have a lot to say about the situation. It’s a hilarious and heartbreaking play – I first saw it read at the Dakh theater in Kiev, Marat Gatsalov directed the reading. At the reading, I felt as though I had been transported out of my life and temporarily placed into a bullshit-free world. I was too shy to approach Anna then – I got to know her much later. It was my husband, back when he wasn’t my husband but already my lover, who formally introduced us.

I think I’m able to write everything I have written here because I’m in shock.

P.S. About a month ago, Anna wrote the following on her blog: “It seems to me that I have very little time left.” She was right. Maybe she felt something – I’m sure that a person as sensitive as Anna was capable of such a thing.

Flags at half-mast in Moscow this week

Captured by shitty phone camera, but captured nonetheless. This one is over the Prosecutor General’s Office.

I had quite a moment after taking this picture. I was walking with a friend and telling him a bunch of crap. “Life is so banal, I’m going to go drown myself in the Moscow River.” “But that would be banal as well!” Etc.

We parted ways by the metro, and I kept on walking home, right through the Red Square. It was the day after the metro bombings, the weather was good, but Red Square was comparatively quiet. My boots pounded the cobblestone, my back was killing me. A gaggle of children in matching outfits – the backs of their jackets said “Minsk” – briefly streamed all around me, giggling, darting back and forth like a school of fish. I was jealous of them.

My iPod was on random, and as I paused by the Mausoleum, Yann Tiersen’s “Summer 78” from the soundtrack to “Good Bye Lenin” started up suddenly.

And I thought, “Everything will be OK – and me along with it.”

Nick Cave can sing it better than I can ever say it:

Come loose your dogs upon me
And let your hair hang down
You are a little mystery to me
Every time you come around

We talk about it all night long
We define our moral ground
But when I crawl into your arms
Everything comes tumbling down

And so it goes between us.

The Mumbai Murderers

I’m not a fan of mosque-culture by a long shot (neither am I fan of church-culture, and I’m a Christian too, so go ahead and save your “OMIGOD INTOLERANCE” rants for another day, peoples), but I was somewhat encouraged by Friday prayers today.

We live fairly close to a mosque, and today in particular you could hear the local imam specifically talking about how what happened in India this week is a horrible atrocity.

It made me think about religion and how it simultaneously encourages the best and the absolute worst in most believers on this planet – how organic this mixture is to human nature.