Friday, May 05, 2006

The Face of Evil

The New Yorker, April 26, 2006 edition, published a fiction piece called, "The Last Days of Muhammad Atta," who was the suicide bomber who flew the airplane into the World Trade Towers, on September 11, 2001. The peice has very few facts in it, other than the movements, whereabouts, check-in times and physical details of Atta, otherwise it is a fictional representation of what the man could have been thinking/possibly would have been thinking as he prepared to preform his terrorist act. It was interesting.

The question is, should we or should we not "put a face," to evil people? Where is the point of appropriatness on the continum that ranges from curiosity-exploration-humanization-sympathy-excusing-understanding-I would have done the same thing in his situation-accepting-supporting. Their remains a constand debate over whether we cause damage by studying, biograph-izing, humanizing people little Atta or Hitler.

This article has caused some stir because it is totally fiction, but does put a human face on the man that the woman CNN interviewed, said had the "face of the devil."

Opinions?

8 comments:

aquamarine said...

I think that we as humanity shouldn't dwell on evil, and "give it a face" but that we teach how to detect evil, like the scriptures say, from the fruit it produces. Being alert to those around us and thier behaviors and those of past performances should be informative but the only reason I see in humanizing terror is to desensitize our senses of what is right and what is wrong.

aquamarine said...

P.S. Glad to see you back! And thanks for stopping by my blog too. ;)

SJ said...

There's a term for this, "sympathy for the devil".

For him we can have no sympathy, for evil we can not give an inch. What he tried to do was kill a hundred innocent people. There is no excuse for that. There is not a single good reason for it. It cannot be justified. Any sympathy for it is really sympathy for evil, and giving in to that will confuse us into destruction

Scully said...

Just thought I would take the opportunity to play Devil's Advocate. There is a whole arm of politcal theory based in psychology, specifically can you gain advantage in the international realm by having a solid understanding of your opponent's psychology. So from an analytical point of view, understanding a villian's motivations could help you a)predict the individual or groups next movements and b) identify and rectify external motivators so others don't become the villian. I doubt anyone reading the piece in the NYT will have sympathy for Atta, especially New Yorkers, but knowing your enemy is an important both defensively and offensively.

Scully said...

Sorry, I need to read better, The New Yorker, not the NYT.

Esperanza said...

It was an interesting read actually. It didn't make me sympathetic, well, it humanzied him for me, which is dangerously close to being remotely sympathetic. So, I can see the danger in it. However, (don't read that wrong as me being a supporter), I'm just saying as readers when we put a face on something we have a tendency to try to relate in some way. The author was really not sympathetic and painted him really well, non-sympathetically, which makes me wonder the motive of the author who is actually in fact British.

Scully said...

Perhaps the motivation was to humanize, but in order to induce the realization that we can do something to stop terror in the future. Hate has an inception, whether taught or inspired by events and if we can do something to mitigate that hate, we might be able to avoid future tragedy. We need to know our enemy to adequately fight it.

Esperanza said...

I agree Scully. Good take on it, I am sure that was what the author on some degree intended, also, interestingly, the beginning and the last line of the peice are the same, saying basically that today is the last day of Muhammad Atta, implying possibly it could have been done different or there are second chances for others or something.