Sunday, May 4, 2008

on "cultural differences"

Happy Sunday - the LA Times has a piece on the way that Blackwater is attempting to compensate the families of those civilians killed in the Nisoor Square shooting. (Link is to a Washington Post reconstruction of the events from testimony by Iraqi witnesses).

The families consistently refuse the compensation because Blackwater has not, as of yet, taken responsibility and apologized for the deaths. The article presents this as a cultural difference in dealing with culpability - that Iraqis find our system of paying out blood money without accepting responsibility sordid. Maybe that is the case - paying compensation for a life is pretty sordid. But I think that interpretation trivializes the unique and awful circumstances of this case, and really lets Blackwater off the hook. If the way that Blackwater has handled the Nisoor Square incident is "our way of doing things" then I am offended by it as well, despite not being Iraqi.

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