As a doc who has worked in cross cultural medicine most of my life, I love to read history. One of the sites I usually read is History News Network, a blog of George Mason University.

Often the essays are merely regurgitation of Chomsky, but sometimes you get insight into todays news thru the eyes of those who study the past.

But today, I read an article Should We Really Be Risking More Lives to Look for the Missing in Iraq?

condemning soldiers risking lives to save the two soldiers captured the other day, essentially saying that the search was just a dangerous publicity stunt to manipulate public opinion of the war.


Risking one’s life to rescue those in peril is a noble thing, and whether it be the NYFD on 9-11or the Philippine special forces rescuing an American missionary and a Pinay nurse in Mindanao. The good professor thinks that “negotiating” (read: paying a lot of money) would be better, but the dirty little secret is that paying thugs who kidnap to release hostages results in more hostages, which is why kidnapping the rich is a lucrative business in many countries, including Colombia and here in the Philippines.

FARC in Colombia is notorious for financing their murderous revolution via kidnapping (and drugs) until Uribe clamped on them, resulting in the wrath of so called “human rights groups”.

The dirty little secret about these kidnappings by pseudorevolutionaries is that they use the ransom money to buy guns and bombs to kill more innocent people. You want to negotiate? Fine. The deaths of the innocent killed by bombs bought with your ransom money are on your  head.

Professor Hawley specializes in this sort of post modern analysis, having also published a book about the search for POW’s and the dead in Viet Nam, which he analyzes with “the theoretical insights of Judith Butler, Michel Foucault, and Emmanuel Levinas ..”

Maybe, instead of analyzing the need to honor those we love by burying their body using the “insights of Foucault” and other Marxist post modernists, he should try to analyze it using the insight of Sophocles. Specifically, the drama Antigone.
Antigone’s brothers rebelled against the king, so he refuses them burial. Out of love for her brothers, out of piety for the decrees of the gods, and in defiance of the kings’ orders, Antigone buries them, and is executed for her “crime”.

Antigone was not inspired by a neocon warmongering defense department, but by an emotion that most of us living outside of academia can identify with: Respect for the dead, especially the body of a dead loved one.
Neanderthal children were buried with toys. Historical tales, from Antigone to Tobit to the burial of Jesus teach us that burying the dead is a deed mandated by the gods even at the risk of going against the political establishment.

Nor is this piety obsolete. Many Native American tribes are fighting to bury their loved ancestors whose skeletons are in museum. Pinoys and other Asians who die overseas have their bodies shipped home for burial in their ancestral villages. Even agnostic Jews will pray the Kaddish, and Catholics who rarely attend church will go to the funeral mass. How many of us will put flowers on the grave of their loved ones, or (for Mexicans and Pinoys) hold a picnic in the cemetary on the Day of the dead? Indeed, the spontaneous placement of memorials on our highways and the families upset when tiny remains of 9-11 survivors are found show that the mystery of death and need to mourn is still with us.

The failure of a person with academic credentials to be unaware of how normal people think and feel about these matters suggest he, like his mentor Foucault, lives in cloudcukooland.

Yup. Another play by a dead white man.

————————————-Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket 

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