the Disillusioned kid: The School Siege: 'Lenin', Horror and Why It's Relevant
| Email | Home | Linkage | Profile |

Saturday, September 04, 2004

The School Siege: 'Lenin', Horror and Why It's Relevant

The school siege in North Ossetia which ended yesterday, leaving over 150 dead, has horrified the world, not without good reason. Stories of children being taken hostage, starved, forced to drink their own urine and then being shot illicit entirely understandable responses in all right-thinking people (and presumably a lot of wrong-thinkers as well). However the way that the story has been covered in the dominant media presents a slightly misleading picture of Chechen barbarians versus an entirely innocent Russia. (I'm talking here about the wider geo-political situation. The children in the school are entirely innocent and those who would treat them so cruelly could, not inappropriately, be described as barbarians, a point to which I turn below.)

'Lenin' makes an interesting point in this regard:
...when that bus was detonated in Israel recently, the media coverage of it seemed to imply that everything was going along just swimmingly until this happened. On Russia, they have not been quite so obtuse but the fact is that it has taken a series of grotesque episodes to produce even a particle of discussion on what is being done to Chechnya.

So, what has been done to Chechnya? Here are a few clues:

1) 150,000 civilians killed in the second war alone.

2) Rape.

3) Killings, disappearances & torture.

4) Arbitrary detention, shootings and looting.

5) The conscious targeting of civilians.

To be sure, this should never be confused with what was done to those school-children - I do impose a very precise distinction. For one thing, this makes the siege of a single school look small-time. For another, no Chechen group could even dream of matching the deathly results of Russian policy.

The most important difference, however? No pictures.
The point he makes is, I think, right in many respects, but misses one crucial element. The consequences of killing somebody from miles away and at six feet are little different, nonetheless there is something particularly horrific about the latter. To be able to look into the eyes of a child and still be able to kill them is nothing short of barbaric. If one factors in the fact that the victims were children, presumably a deliberate choice, who were entirely incapable of defending themselves, I don't think that expressions of horror are misplaced, which takes nothing away from the brutality and immorality, not to mention illegality of Russian policy in Chechnya.

In case anybody thinks that this is all very tragic, but irrelevant to us, I draw your attention to Zeynep Toufe's remarks:
Probably a lot of people are thinking that it's just so far away. What could possibly be the repercussions of events in Beslan, Russia where this unfortunate school was located, or the war in Chechnya where tens of thousands have died and hundreds thousands displaced as Russia tries to keep control over a people who clearly desire independence? Yes, it is all far away. So was Afghanistan at one time.

This is now a world where methods, weapons and cruelty quickly travel and boomerang around the globe. We pay no attention at own peril.
Subsequent Update: 'Lenin' has posted a comprehensive response to my criticisms on his blog.

Side Projects

Carnival of Anarchy
The Peace Pipe
UK Watch Blog


Against the Current
Culture hits and gendered bits
Daniel Randall
In The Water
Mike Wood
On The Barricades
Pizarro's Sword
Space Cat Rocket Ship
Surveillant Assemblage
TashCamUK FotoPage
The Naked Lunch
The Peace Pipe
The World of the Dynamite Lady


Anarchoblogs Blog
Arte & Lingua
Barker in Valencia
Blood & Treasure
Bombs and Shields
Born at the Crest of the Empire
Chase me ladies...
Chicken Yoghurt
Craig Murray
Dead Men Left
Disreputable Lazy Aliens
Empire Notes
Friends of Al Jazeera
Global Guerillas
Guerillas in the Midst
I Blame the Patriachy
Informed Comment
Janine Booth
Lenin's Tomb
Life of Riley Blog
Media Watch Watch
Neil Shakespeare
NO2ID NewsBlog
One Hump or Two?
Otto's Random Thoughts
Pitch In For Uzbekistan
Run over by the truth
Solidarity With Iraqi Workers
Shut Up You Fat Whiner!
Sudan: Passion of the Present
Talk Politics
The Anthropik Network
The Daily (Maybe)
The Devil's Kitchen
The Disillusioned
The f-word
The Head Heeb
The Killing Train
The Revenge of Winston Smith
The Socialist Unity Blog
The Wicked Truth
Theory of Power
Things I Don't Have Time For
This (Fresh) Gringo
This Is My Truth
Thumping the Tub
Time The Dreaded Enemy
UK Watch Blog
UK Poli Blogs
Under The Same Sun
What Fresh Hell Is This?
Where is Raed? (RIP)
Who Are You to Accuse Me?
Words and Rocks
Z-Net Blog


Asbo Community Space
Eastside Climate Action
Faslane 365
No Borders
Nottingham Student Peace Movement
Refugee Forum
Stop the War
Sumac Centre
The Demo Project

Ivory Towers

Anarchist Studies Network
Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice
Postanarchism Clearinghouse


Anarchist FAQ
Chagos Discussion List
Chagos Support Forums
Electronic Intifada
Future of Iraq Portal
Index of Political Blogs
Indymedia UK
Iraq Occupation Focus
Refuser Solidarity Network
Socialist Unity Network
The New Standard
UK Chagos Support Association
UK Watch
Weekly Worker

The Progressive Blog Alliance

Register here to join the PBA.