Received a call last night from my brother Mike. He told me that Drudge had a link to a shaky cell phone video of Saddam Hussein's hanging. Since then a number of others have also linked to it including blogroll member Curt at Flopping Aces who's carrying an embedded flash version. Be warned that the video is graphic.
I watched it and as I mentioned yesterday, this execution does nothing to further the notion of capital punishment in my opinion. Let there be no doubt that I think Hussein was an evil thug and brutal dictator but I'm here to tell you after watching both the initial video that fell short of showing the actual hanging and now the poor quality video of the whole thing that I'm more than disturbed by it all.
I can't understand those Americans and others who are celebrating the execution especially now that I've seen it. I have more empathy for those whose family members were victimized by Hussein and his henchmen but for the rest of us I think it to be symptomatic of serious cultural decay.
My brother said it best last night. I was in the middle of watching the video while he was still on the phone listening to my reactions. At one point I whispered something to the effect that this was just wrong and Mike whispered back, "It makes me want to go to church".
Seeking God in this seems to be wise, more than wise, necessary in fact.
Yesterday I wrote of being unable to pray for mercy and that praying for justice seemed to be more apt. Today, after seeing the meting out of justice first hand, I can only think of praying for mercy. Mercy for those who've been victimized by Hussein and those like him, mercy for those who'll see this video and cheer it's showing, mercy for those who see it and are repelled, and finally, yes, mercy for Saddam Hussein and I say that knowing that it's quite the turnaround.
I can only conclude here that even the likes of Saddam Hussein deserve something other than dying via hanging.
God's mercy on us all.
UPDATE: Daniel Pulliam at GetReligion is pondering the significance of Hussein clutching a Koran on his way to the gallows:
What is the significance of Saddam Hussein holding a Koran as he headed the gallows Saturday morning? It’s not the first time a brutal tyrant reached for religious symbols as the people he formerly ruled sent him to his creator. And it won’t be the last. The job of the journalist is to tell us what it means and how the Iraqi people viewed the symbol.
Is the Koran a mere detail to be added along with the (dyed) color of his hair? What message is Saddam trying to send? Is it wrong of me to suggest that perhaps the Butcher of Baghdad, despised by so many for his secularism, had something of a re-conversion to Islam before he was executed?
The more likely story is that Saddam, recognizing like Charles I that people would scrutinize his final actions, wanted to send some sort of message. But what message did he want to send and what message did the Iraqi people and Arab Muslims at large receive?
The significance of the Koran, or lack-there-of, is a story in and of itself. But it’s only the surface story. The deeper story is Saddam’s spiritual state as he headed to the gallows. The clutched Koran is a good place to start.
I think, as I ponder all of this, that there's a deeper story to the deeper story and it starts not with the clutched Koran but with what we're clutching as we attempt to seriously think through this event and it's aftermath.
AN UPDATE: Since I've posted this, I've written more here, for those interested.