Thomas Wictor

At least I’m not confused

At least I’m not confused

I have tons and tons and tons of problems. If I sat down with you to tell you what’s wrong with me, we’d be there for days. And you’d end up like that poor cat in the videos, the one with its jaw hanging open. You’d marvel that I didn’t just put an end to the whole mess decades ago.


At least I’m not confused about what’s right and what’s wrong.

I just read the most vile opinion piece maybe in my entire life. Its nauseating title is “Ominous Signs, Then a Cruel Attack. Making Sense of Kenya’s Westgate Mall Massacre.” The writer is Jeffrey Gettleman, East Africa Bureau Chief of the New York Times.

Gettleman “makes sense” of the “cruel” attack by:

1. Immediately pointing out that the mall is owned by Israelis. This is clearly to imply that the attack was somehow deserved. There’s no other reason to mention it right off the bat. Al-Shabaab said it carried out the attack as revenge for Kenya helping the Somali government. So why bring up Israel, Gettleman? Al-Shabaab itself didn’t, so why did you?

2. Saying the mall is “a symbol of Kenya’s newfound decadence.” So a First World standard of living is now decadent? Or is it only “decadent” when Africans achieve it? Are you saying “real” Kenyans should be wearing loincloths and hunting gazelles with spears, Gettleman?

3. Telling us the mall was where “I interviewed my first real live Somali pirate.” Wow! A real live Somali pirate? Kewl! Did talking to a real live pirate—your first!—make you all moist? Was he kinda like Justin Bieber, but even more bitchen ’cause he was, like, a pirate ‘n junk?

4. Calling the inhumanly sadistic murderers “militants.” When I was growing up, a militant was someone who took part in protest marches and chanted noisily. In your mind, Gettleman, is this atrocity just a passionate, noisy political protest?

5. Claiming the victims were “gunned down” when in fact many were tortured to death. The “militants” pulled off fingers, noses, and ears with pliers; gouged out eyes; castrated men; stabbed infants to death; whittled peoples’ fingers to the bone and made them write in blood; hanged people on hooks; dismembered people; cut peoples’ throats and threw them off the third floor; laughed the whole time; and pounded on the door of a beauty parlor and shouted, “Let us in! You can give us makeovers!” Militants and jolly pranksters.

6. Claiming that anger and poverty motivated the murderers, when in fact it was religion. You yourself admit that Muslims were allowed to live, Gettleman. And again, the murderers were laughing. They weren’t angry, and among them were Americans, Brits, Canadians, a Swede, and a Finn. Ever been to Finland, Gettleman? Finns have absolutely nothing to be angry about. And since these were Muslims, they can’t even blame their murders on booze, the only reason Swedes and Finns get violent.

7. Writing that in Africa, “civilians are stalked, raped and killed by men with guns. You have no idea how many guns are in these places[.]” Guns make people commit criminal acts? How? Hypnotism? Don’t you have to be alive to hypnotize people? And if guns are the problem, why didn’t my gun-owning grandfather and mother ever rape or murder anyone? They had hundreds of guns. Some are still in Mom’s house. I’ve held them in my hands, and not once did they compel me to commit a criminal act.

8. Listing all the benefits of life in Kenya “while a medieval mix of famine, plagues, warlords, pirates and sudden death seethed next door[.]” So what? Are you saying that the Kenyans brought this atrocity down on their own heads by improving their standard of living? What the fuck are you blathering about, Gettleman? I notice that your shallow guilt at enjoying the good life in Kenya doesn’t make you stop enjoying the good life in Kenya. Is telling us how sad you feel supposed to make us admire you? Have you ever done a lick of charitable work in your life, Gettleman?

9. Whitewashing several times the actual butchery committed in the Westgate Mall and giving the impression that every victim was simply shot. Why do you lack the balls to describe what really happened, Gettleman? Al-Shabaab is proud of what they did, but you’re trying to minimize it. Why? What’s your motivation in doggedly mischaracterizing this atrocity? Why are you trying to protect these fuckers from themselves? Are you in love with them?

10. Describing a leader of the terrorist group al-Shabaab in the following way: “One night, a top commander named Abu Monsur, now one of the most wanted men in East Africa, came to my hotel to give me a beautiful Koran, trimmed in gold leaf. With a tear falling from his eye, Abu Monsur clasped both my hands and asked me to convert to Islam. He was passionate, devout and deadly serious.” Oh, and a monster who committed mind-warpingly brutal atrocities. Isn’t that slightly important to tell us? And why did you accept his beautiful Koran? I wouldn’t accept a gift from Charles Manson, no matter how tearful he was. I’d tell him to shove it. Are you holding this al-Shabaab bastard to a different standard of behavior than you’d hold a white American Christian? Why? Do you have to make allowances for him because he’s handicapped by not being white? And for the third time, the killers were laughing. Is there such a thing as serious laughter in your world? Why can’t you admit that they enjoyed murdering, torturing, and raping their victims? Would that detract from the picture of piousness you’re trying to paint for whatever bizarre, private reason?

11. Describing the African Union’s entirely justified, defensive attack on al-Shabaab in the following way: “But the Shabab were also colluding with Qaeda terrorists, and over the past few years, as the United States bankrolled a proxy force of African armies, including Kenya’s, to destroy them, the Shabab became flamboyantly brutal.” Bullshit. The African Union had its own national interests. Their troops weren’t a “proxy force” of the U.S. It may shock you to learn this, Gettleman, but Africans have their own minds and make decisions based on what’s best for them. And why do you call al-Qaeda terrorists but al-Shabaab militants? What’s wrong with you? Don’t you proofread your own pieces? With my Meniere’s disease brain fog I write more cogently than you do. Maybe you should develop Meniere’s disease. It might improve your writing and your morals.

12. Descrbiing al-Shabaab atrocities in Somalia in the following way: “The Shabab didn’t care anymore. They were like a cornered animal.” No. They never cared in the first place. You’re supposed to be this big expert, but are you unaware that Omar Shafik Hammami, a.k.a. Abu Mansoor Al-Amriki, decried al-Shabaab’s savagery, even though he was a member, so they chased him for a year and then murdered him? Al-Shabaab was notorious for its sickening, psychotic viciousness right from the start. Why don’t you know this?

13. Calling the mass murder of shoppers “executions” and again saying only that the victims were shot. An execution is a government’s legal killing of a criminal. Do you not know this, Gettleman? Or do you consider the Westgate Mall murders legitimate killings? Don’t words have meaning to you? You’re a professional writer, so I can only conclude that you equate these murders with putting convicted criminals to death. Or maybe you use that word because al-Shabaab Tweeted, “Like it or loathe it! Our mujahideen confirmed all executions were point blank range!” So you won’t tell us about the torture, Gettleman, but you use al-Shabaab’s own rhetoric. Are you their stenographer?

14. Calling al-Shabaab “ruthless” and “wily.” I sense more than a little admiration in that description, Gettleman. You really like them, even though you don’t fully support their methods, right? I mean, their willingness to stand up to Daddy their enemies and the chaos they cause is pretty damn exciting to you, right? Right.

No amount of fame, money, influence, or peer pressure could ever warp me to the point that I lacked the guts to call terrorists what they are. Nor would I ever downplay entirely voluntary, utterly inexcusable evil out of a concern that I appear to be “judging.”

If you can’t judge the animals who gleefully slaughtered the defenseless and blameless in the Westgate Mall, who can you judge? And who are you worried won’t like you if you judge them? Are you afraid that the sadistic, subhuman killers won’t like you? Or is it the sophisticates at the cocktail parties? You’re worried that they’ll think you’re normal?

We’re slipping. Western culture, I mean. The Westgate Mall atrocity should make all functional, empathetic, healthy human beings disgusted and enraged. If you come across as HAL 9000 when writing about it, you’re a disaster.

I would never, under any circumstances, want to know you, Jeffrey Gettleman. Though I pity you, I also find you repulsive and horrifying. I used to think I was the biggest loser on the planet.

Boy, was I wrong.