Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Nick Berg deserved to die. He was war-loving scum. I'm glad they chopped his head off.

No, I don't believe any of that. And it would be an outrage if I, a lefty and critic of the war, said something like that in all seriousness.

But apparently it's OK for Lucianne Goldberg, or whoever ghost-writes for her Web site, to say this about the dead man:

Sorry, but Nick Berg sounds like a nutball to us

This is a reference to the long story about Berg in today's New York Times. I'm trying to figure out what's making Ms. Goldberg's nose wrinkle. Maybe it's this:

...his defining semester came in a small Ugandan village, where he spent the spring of 1998 in an exchange program. There he was exposed to poverty he had never imagined, friends said. He turned his inventiveness to good use, fashioning a brick-making machine to help villagers stabilize mud huts.

Or this:

He seemed particularly attracted to the Hebrew concept of tikkun olam -- healing the world through social action.

"He went to Iraq to see if he could combine his professional skill with his desire to heal the world," said Ruth W. Messinger, the former Manhattan borough president who leads the American Jewish World Service.

Or this:

... he visited Kenya for two weeks in March 2003, working on water projects ...

Seriously, I don't get it. He supported the war (as the humanitarian removal of a dictator). Friends who cleaned out his apartment found, among other things, "an American flag made of red and white duct tape on blue cloth." But Lucianne doesn't like him. Why? Too idealistic? Too scrupulous?

Yeah, the article doesn't make him seem ordinary. He liked climbing (rocks, radio towers) -- I know people like that, people who crave that level of danger. I don't share the aficion, but I'd never criticize it.

He liked inventing things, and he had a Calvin & Hobbes cartoon in his apartment -- so he was a geek. Fine by me -- and a hell of a lot better than being a hack literary agent turned political hatchetwoman, Lucianne.

(By the way, to those who think Berg may have had a secret life -- yeah, I've wondered too, and, well, maybe there was more below the surface. But after seeing the text and photos at this radio Web site run by a man named Scott Fybush, I'm convinced that, whatever else Nick Berg may have been, he was the tower-climbing gearhead his friends remember so fondly.)

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