The student blog for Drake University first year seminar entitled Visual Politics

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Saddam Hussein

“Ladies and gentleman, we got him,” were the famous lines Paul Brenner the United States Civil leader in Iraq excitingly said on December 13, 2003 after capturing Saddam Hussein.  The Iraq disarmament crisis ended with the United States demanding President Saddam Hussein to leave Iraq immediately. When he refused the United States began Operation Iraqi Freedom.  After approximately three weeks of fighting Saddam Hussein and the Ba’ath party was overthrown.  This was by no means the end to the occupation of Iraq; it was merely the beginning.  It took nine months of getting blown up by suicide bombers, IEDS, and getting killed in ambushes by insurgents until the United States Army finally captured Saddam Hussein. It would have been nice if this was the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom, however the war went on for another seven years.

            In the famous picture of Saddam Hussein having a noose around his neck prior to being hanged, many images serve as symbols.  The first symbol is that Saddam Hussein does not have a hood covering his face.  In the majority of hangings a hood covers the criminals face to prevent emotional harm to those watching the hangings, and to protect the dignity of the one about to be hanged.  Saddam reportedly refused the hood as one final act of defiance.  The image of the hanging without a hood presents an emotional scenario and civic performance.  People in Iraq viewing the hanging see a ruthless dictator who tyrannized their lives for many years.  They do not see a bag covering a body, but they see the man they have wanted dead for a long time.  The hanging of Saddam Hussein without a hood brings a sense of relief to the people of Iraq, as they know for certain the man ruining their lives will never return.

            Another symbol are the executioners wearing masks, which covers their identity. The executioners or guards are not individuals.  They are a group, no person viewing can tell any physical features of the guards except for their skin color.  This destruction of identity allows the viewers in Iraq to feel as if they play a role in the execution.   It portrays a sense of teamwork among the Iraqi people as they are all working together to take back the lives they had before Saddam Hussein ruined it for them. 

Jake Wasserman 

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