Brutal killing of American brings hypocrisy to front

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 17, 2004

The horrific murder of American Nick Berg sickens me. Obviously, his brutal death and beheading at the hands of terrorists is enough make every American ill.

But lots of folks have rehashed the gruesome details. If you are interested in seeing the violent, hate-filled acts that ended his life, I suspect you can find them on the Internet.

What sickens me more is how the American "mainstream" media has handled it.

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As one colleague pointed out, the story of Berg's murder made headlines when it occurred, but only briefly.

In no time the investigations over the apparent prisoner abuse at an Iraqi prison jumped back to the top.

As awful as the images of Iraqi prisoners posed in sexually explicit position are, the severity of this - in my mind - pales in comparison to a medieval-like beheading.

Obviously any and all soldiers who were involved in the alleged prisoner abuse should be prosecuted.

While I understand the need to hold us to a higher standard than terrorists, I cannot understand the baffling lack of news judgment.

The prisoner abuse is bad.

Murdering an innocent civilian is incredible.

But the hypocritical take on Berg's murder doesn't stop with the national media.

Common Americans are also unknowingly engaging in the hypocrisy.

In hundreds of thousands - if not millions - of American households young people are playing video games labeled for mature audiences only.

"It's just a game," some parents might say in dismissal. In the other room, little "Johnny" is playing a life-like video game rewarding players who steal cars and shoot people. These same games sometimes feature bar-fulls of sexual innuendo and even prostitution.

And some of these same average Americans would never dream of allowing these children to watch the gruesome video of Nick Berg's last minutes of life.

It seems a double standard.

Although I don't think anyone should be forced to watch such horrors, I do think people should strongly consider watching the video. Or at the very least take a few moments and think about the implications.

Berg, along with hundreds of other Americans, was killed simply because he was an American.

In the same way that the incredible scenes of falling towers in New York were seared into our country's collective conscious, Berg's death should do the same.

The facts are simple. Terrorists hate us. And they'll stop at nothing until they win. We can't turn our heads and hope it all goes away. Nick Berg's memory shouldn't let us.

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Ironton Tribune. He can be reached at (740) 532-1445 ext. 12 or by e-mail to