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Thu Aug 21, 2014, 08:09 AM

 

Pulitzer Winners: These Acts, Save One, are No Longer Shocking

This is not the one that is still shocking.


This one might seem shocking — but if I tell you that the man about to have a bullet calmly shot into his brain was a top assassin of the native revolutionary movement, the Viet Cong, tasked with carrying out its own version of the U.S.’s “Operation Phoenix” program of assassination of South Vietnamese Army leaders and their families, recently including of Gen. Loan’s top aides and his family, perhaps you will feel differently about it. Perhaps you won’t — and, if so, good for you. But if you were ever going to make a case for summary execution, this situation would be it — at least if you favored the South Vietnamese government. A major, well-identified, brutal killer of not just enemies but their families, during a startling and crippling wartime offensive, without a realistic possibility of trial — I don’t like it, but I can understand it. And yet this photo did more than any other to break the spirit of Americans back home, because witnessing the reality of a summary execution was simply over the top.

In Orange County, in Ferguson, Missouri, and elsewhere, this sort of thing just isn’t that shocking anymore. What ought to be shocking is the stakes. Based on witness statements consistent with autopsy reports, Michael Brown was summarily executed on the streets of Ferguson for essentially pissing off a police officer. (No, it wasn’t over his stealing cigars or having ingested marijuana sometime over the previous six weeks.) And people in Ferguson and nationwide say that he had it coming.

In Anaheim and I’m sorry to bore you all with this but in about ten weeks it may put Orange County squarely in the news again — we have the death of a young man who had allegedly shot at police and (maybe) briefly but ineffectually threatened a family while running away. He was hid in or behind an isolated trash dumpster not that far away, where a police dog located him and gunfire rang out — very possibly entirely coming from the police, although the soon to be dead boy was morally and legally culpable — leading to the injury of that K-9 officer. And The Walt Disney Company’s favored candidate for Mayor, Lucille Kring, said that his summary execution — like what you see up there in that photo — was “a good result” and the way it should go because it “saved us the cost of a trial.” (She later retracted the statement because it looked bad. If she wins in the wake of Ferguson, it will, I promise you, look worse.)


By Greg Diamond – August 20, 2014
Lots more

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