Legally killed children

27 May

Writing in the neoliberal mouthpiece, The Atlantic, May 17, Graeme Wood adopts a tone suave enough to persuade those who still give Israel, its Western backers and our systemically corrupt media benefit of doubt. On what? On black being white. Or at any rate – since Western aided mass murder in Gaza, post October 7, is “complicated” – a shade of grey best left to the policy makers.

(Like the Nazi Holocaust was a moral grey zone? Like there being two sides to every ‘conflict’?)

This in a piece implicitly defending IDF smashing of all records for the liquidation of journalists, while explicitly. pushing apologetics for infanticide.

Mr Wood even manages in his opening paragraph to make an urbane joke about the same:

Between May 6 and May 8, the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) revised its estimates of how many women and children had died in Gaza. The numbers appeared to drop drastically: first, it reported at least 24,000 dead women and children, and two days later, it reported exactly 12,756 “identified” dead women and children. One could be forgiven for wondering whether the UN had raised about 6,700 Gazan children and 4,500 Gazan women from the dead. [Emphasis added.]

Writing today, Caitlin Johnstone picks up the thread:

Israel Massacres Children, Which The Western Press Says Is Fine

Israel has not only completely disregarded the orders of the International Court of Justice to cease its assault on Rafah as we expected it to do, but has actually ramped up its ruthlessness as though trying to make a point. There were reportedly more than 60 Israeli airstrikes on the southernmost city in the Gaza strip in the 48 hours after the ICJ ruling, including a horrifying massacre on a displacement camp full of civilians in tents.

The ABC reports:

Israeli air strikes have killed at least 35 Palestinians and wounded dozens in an area in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah designated for the displaced, Palestinian health and civil emergency service officials said.

Gaza’s Health Ministry said women and children made up most of the dead and dozens of wounded.

The strike took place in Tel Al-Sultan neighbourhood in western Rafah on Sunday, local time, where thousands of people were taking shelter after many fled the eastern areas of the city where Israeli forces began a ground offensive over two weeks ago.

The video footage coming out about this massacre is extremely graphic and will stay with you for the rest of your life if you choose to watch it. It shows charred and dismembered bodies, and small children whose heads are missing and partly missing. On social media I’ve seen numerous people observing that the lies about Hamas beheading babies on October 7 have been used by Israel to justify atrocities in which actual babies are really being beheaded. Electronic Intifada’s Ali Abunimah notes that this was at a camp which just days ago Israel had told civilians was a safe zone that they should move to. The Gaza media office reports that the attack took place next to an UNRWA logistics base, which is about as clear an answer to the UN court’s order to cease its genocidal massacres in Rafah as you could possibly ask for. As Maya Angelou said, when someone shows you who they are, believe them.

This happens to have occurred at precisely the same time viral attention is coming to an article The Atlantic published a few days ago which includes the assertion that killing children is legally permissible under certain circumstances.

Writing that allowing journalists into Gaza would be a “risk” for Israel because “war is ugly”, The Atlantic’s Graeme Wood uses the phrase “legally killed child” to argue that journalistic footage of dead children which Israel killed lawfully would still be damaging to Israeli PR interests.

“To rebut Hamas’s allegations by letting journalists see the war up close would be a calculated risk,” Wood writes. “Even when conducted legally, war is ugly. It is possible to kill children legally, if for example one is being attacked by an enemy who hides behind them. But the sight of a legally killed child is no less disturbing than the sight of a murdered one.”

Think about the kind of worldview which could publish something like that. This made it through the entire editing process in a mainstream liberal publication.

Anyone who’s been following the Gaza genocide on social media today will be seeing this phrase “legally killed child” alongside footage of children ripped apart by Israeli military explosives in a civilian displacement camp — a pairing which, if you have a beating heart in your chest and a functioning empathy center in your brain, will spark a very special kind of rage inside you.

The way these two points dance together just says so much about what we’re dealing with here, when you take a step back and really look at it. It says so much about Israel. It says so much about western civilization. It says so much about the western press in general and liberal war propaganda rags like The Atlantic in particular. It says so much about the kind of mainstream political worldview which could allow for such a thing to exist. And it says we live in a civilization that has gone completely, utterly insane.

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4 Replies to “Legally killed children

  1. Yes they insist on calling genocide a “war”. But my main point here is that I thought I could no longer be shocked by anything coming out of the mouths of the criminals who rule over us or their media mouth pieces, but seeing in print “legally killed children”. Words fail me.

    • We live in a society which normalises lies – with euphemisms like “legally killed children” and “enhanced interrogation” a particular variant; the claims implied by dementedly shrill advertisers another.

      (On the latter, have you ever come back after a TV-free period – a camping trip, say – to switch on your set and wonder not only at how excruciatingly bonkers the ads actually are, but at how quickly we adjust to them and cease to see their insanity. How could this normalisation of lying not be deeply corrosive of sanity, morality and the capacity to think critically?)

      You may recall how Caitlin, cited in my April post, Mass murder and the shelf life of lies put it:

      Western civilization is dominated by a power structure that has invested more heavily in “soft power” (mass-scale psychological manipulation) than any other in history. It pervades our media, our internet services, our art — literally all of mainstream culture.

      The politicians lie, the news media lie, the movies lie, the internet lies, the advertisements lie, the shows between the advertisements lie. They lie about our world, they lie about our government, they lie about what’s important, how we should think, what we should value, and how we should measure our level of success and worthiness as human beings.

      And why did “Western civilization” so invest? Because the mirage of an open, genuinely democratic society requires – for it to be reconciled with class rule – a greater degree of psychological manipulation. We have to be persuaded that choices objectively made by and for the few, are in truth the Will of the Many.

      It’s my contention, and that of others including I dare say you, that we are moving into a new phase of class rule where even the pretence of consensus is being allowed in stages to slip away. (Did you vote for austerity for the many, super riches for the few? Did you vote for genocide in Gaza? Did you vote to play “nuclear chicken” in Ukraine?)

      But there’s still a way to go, and in the meantime pompous fools like Graeme Wood will find eager hirers in our systemically corrupt corporate media

  2. I don’t think legally killed children is a euphemism, to me it’s just showing shockingly blatant disregard for the suffering and death of murdered children and callousness on such an extreme level to leave anyone with a shred of humanity lost for words. You have to wonder at how far these people are prepared to go to support the empire.
    I would have thought most people know that enhanced interrogation means torture. That is an actual euphemism.
    I haven’t watched or listened to ads for years. The fast forward and mute functions are great. But they are utterly bonkers, but as loads of people point out, advertising sells.

    • Advertising does indeed sell. We should draw the correct conclusion from that. So few of us will put our hand up and say, “Me, I’m heavily influenced by ads”. Rather, we speak as if commercial propaganda works on other, less intelligent, souls. Yet hundreds of billions of dollars change hands annually on the understanding that it does work. (Albeit at largely subliminal levels and in roundabout ways.) Are the Mad Men deluded? Do their deep-pocketed clients have more money than sense?


      And are we to suppose that psychological manipulation starts and ends with persuading us we’ll have richer and happier lives by buying their products and services?

      Off the scale unlikely. Ditto that it’s mere coincidence that our opinions on such as China, Russia, Syria, North Korea, Venezuela – and infanticide in Gaza being morally complex if not valid self defence (by a colonial occupier) – align with those of billionaires. As with our marketplace choices, we assume we arrived at those opinions unaided.

      Which is to say that the techniques of opinion manufacture used 24/7 by commercial advertisers are scrupulously shunned by those with an interest in ensuring we see the political realm in ways that suit them.

      Not so much unlikely as preposterous. I’ve gone into the mechanisms elsewhere and many times. Here for instance: What of ideology when reality intrudes?

      Here (edited for brevity) is a passage from a post – It’s a rum do and no mistake – I wrote in December 2019:

      Early 90s it was my job to read Marketing Weekly. One feature I recall was a centre spread celebrating the rebranding of cider.

      This flagship journal to an industry not given to self awareness gave gushing tribute to how a tipple hitherto associated with straw-chewing yokels had been repackaged in cute bottles and given sexy monikers – WKD, White Lightning, Angry Orchard – then sold at far higher prices to 20-somethings now not only knocking cider back by the drayload but – this being the lesson Marketing Weekly wanted its niche readers to take away – doing so as if it had been their idea all along.

      If you can do that with fermented apple pulp, I mused, what else can you do?

      Finally, you may be right on “legally killed children” being not an actual euphemism. I try to use words precisely but don’t always succeed.

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