I don’t know if this post is about moral relativism or not. But now that the dust has settled a little bit over the most recent bout of beheadings, I think I should address a couple of questions.
People have questioned the propriety of telling people where they can download the various beheading videos, while others think it’s inappropriate to dedicate the videos to Michael Moore.
Much as I’d like to think that no American would support cold-blooded murderers of Americans, there’s too much evidence that some do. I can’t ignore the evidence when it walks around in front of me. While it’s true that Americans are not literally supporting Osama bin Laden or the apparent ringleader of the beheaders, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, many are supporting some things which are too close for comfort. Moore, of course, describes the Iraqi beheaders in glowing terms by comparing them to early American revolutionaries. Whether they agree with his statement, it’s clear that plenty of Americans support Michael Moore generally. Michael Moore is considered cool.
In some quarters, he’s considered almost as cool as Che Guevara.
Guevara’s image adorns T-shirts which I see on a regular basis. These shirts are worn by young people who think Guevara is way cool.
Yet Guevara was a murderer. While he didn’t torture his victims by sawing off their heads as does Zarqawi, I think most reasonable people would agree that this constitutes torture:

He [Guevara] was fond of tying people up, blindfolding them and then popping a cap in the backs of their heads while their wives and children were forced to watch.

Great guy to have on your t-shirt to show how cool you are. While in terms of numbers, Guevara as a murderer doesn’t quite rank up there with bin Laden, there’s a distinct similarity in style: cold blooded murder of innocent people. Tying up and shooting people in front of wives and children is about as ghastly a crime one can commit. In fact, ask the average guy which of these two ways he’d prefer to go:

  • A. (Zarqawi) To be tied up, and have a guy slice your head off with a knife in the name of his bloodthirsty “god”; or
  • B. (Guevara) To be tied up and shot in the back of your head with your wife and kids right there being forced to watch.
  • I’m not a pollster, but I think many people (perhaps even a majority) would choose the Zarqawi method.
    But who is worse isn’t really the point. What bothers me is that too many Americans are glorifying cold-blooded murderers as cool. In my opinion, they should watch the beheading videos, just to be clear on the concept of what it is they advocate. There are so many of these Guevara lovers running around that otherwise rational people might get confused too.
    More on the Hollywood-driven Guevara phenomenon here and here. (Robert Redford has made a touching “Portrait of the Murderer as a Young Stud” aimed at the tender teeny-weenies. Is the idealistic young bin Laden next?)
    As to coolness and Michael Moore, there’s little question that despite the obvious problems presented by his physical appearance (let’s face it, a teen heart-throb he’s not), he’s aiming for Guevara status.
    And, while I’d be glad to dedicate the beheading videos to Che Guevara himself, Moore will do.
    It’s just my way of mocking the idea that cold blooded murder is somehow “cool.”
    UPDATE: Via Andrew Sullivan, here’s more on Hollywood’s love affair with Guevara, including this lovely Che quote:

    “Hatred as an element of struggle; unbending hatred for the enemy, which pushes a human being beyond his natural limitations, making him into an effective, violent, selective, and cold-blooded killing machine. This is what our soldiers must become?”

    Who said hate wasn’t cool!