In Our Names


Driving back from dropping my son off at his first day of summer camp, I turned on the radio in the middle of our local broadcast of the BBC’s World Service.  Almost the first thing up was an interview with director Asif Kapadia, talking about his latest project, a short film starring Yasiim Bey’s (Mos Def).

Bey’s subject: what it is actually like to be force fed, as is now being experienced by detainees at the US indefinite detention camp at Guantanamo Bay.  Bey’s supporting cast included two doctors, volunteering for the roles.  In the camp the procedure is performed by US personnel, working towards the stated purpose of securing the freedom and liberty of the citizens and residents of the United States.

Bey’s video is propaganda in the purest sense. That does not mean it can’t show us something that we should know.

Warning — and pay attention to me here, kids:  This short film is hard to watch — very much so — which is its point.  Don’t hit play if you have a hard time putting images of cruelty or violence out of your mind.  I’m putting it below the fold so that you don’t click on it by accident.

One more thing:  If you don’t want to despair even further about the human condition, don’t dive into the comment thread on Youtube.

Image:  Titian, The Scourging of Christ, 1560

Explore posts in the same categories: Last resort of scoundrels, quis custodiet ipsos custodes, torture

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One Comment on “In Our Names”

  1. steve latham Says:

    Tom, I’m no fan of force-feeding but this video is indeed propaganda. NG tubes are inserted into patients who can’t feed themselves every day, and though it’s uncomfortable, it’s not at all like Mos Def makes it seem. Here’s a demo video showing a tube being inserted with a lot less drama: . Here’s another, showing a bit of discomfort: .The video you posted is terrible to watch, but I’m guessing that’s because it was designed to be. I wouldn’t want your readers to think that everyone they ever see in a hospital with an NG tube has gone through what Mos Def seems to be going through.

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