Syrian troops yuck it up to Usher when they’re not raping children (video)

My friend Sunny Hundal forwarded this on Twitter, and I’m not sure what to make of it.  It appears to be a video of Syrian troops spontaneously breaking into dance over a song by the hit R&B/Hip Hop-artist Usher.  It’s at once adorable and chilling.

These kind of videos fascinate me.  In one way, they’re incredibly humanizing – while at the same time these are Syrian troops brutally attempting to crush a nascent democracy movement in their country.  The UN has confirmed reports of child torture in Syria.

Children were slaughtered, tortured, sexually attacked and used as human shields by pro-government Syrian forces, according to a damning United Nations report released late on Monday.

“Children were victims of killing and maiming, arbitrary arrest, detention, torture and ill-treatment, including sexual violence, by the Syrian Armed Forces, the intelligence forces, and the Shabbiha militia,” the U.N.’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Radhika Coomaraswamy said in a release issued along with the report.

Yet, Syrian soldiers get just as turned on by American Hip Hop, and posting funny videos on YouTube, as any American kid their age.  What does it mean when we see Syrian shoulders who don’t vomit green slime and speak in tongues, to borrow the wonderful quote from Judy Jones?

I’m having a “banality of evil” moment.

Banality of evil is a phrase used by Hannah Arendt in the title of her 1963 work Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil.[1] Her thesis is that the great evils in history generally, and the Holocaust in particular, were not executed by fanatics or sociopaths, but by ordinary people who accepted the premises of their state and therefore participated with the view that their actions were normal.

This video is the humanization of the inhuman.  Does it show a human side to the Syrian troops, or is it all the more chilling that guys who act like us, who get into Hip Hop and funny YouTube videos, could still commit such heinous crimes?  Perhaps both.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100005139934181 Paul Johnson

    interesting read..i have some veteran friends that play airsoft and http://www.airsplat.com/support-gi-troops.htm i def want to see what they have to say about this.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    True that. I doubt there ever was a war where those involved didn’t think their side was righteous.

    Which is why I’m an avowed pacifist.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    You are coming up with some real challenging topics lately. Good work…..

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    I would posit that ‘we’ are monsters to begin with, looking for the opportunity to enjoy evil and calling it God’s will.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    But that’s how it is, isn’t it? We humans are capable of absorbing and believing with utmost sincerity almost anything.

    I’d wager if you asked those Syrian loyalist troops why they were defending Assad’s regime and they’d say something about duty and the need to fight those terrible foreign-supported rebels. Then they commit these horrific crimes, probably because they see the enemy as less than human. However, it usually works the other way around.

    It’s war itself that always risks dehumanizing us and turning us into monsters. And it usually succeeds.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=691340642 Hardy Haberman

    This reminds me of the home movies of Hitler by Eva Braun. If you didn’t know who he was it would seem so innocent and charming. Banality of evil indeed.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    I’d never seen that, it’s wonderful. May post it later, thanks!

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Seriously, that’s what this made me think of.

  • rerutled

    Let me know when they make their “Call Me, Maybe” video.

  • OtterQueen

    For years I wondered how the Holocaust could happen – it wasn’t just Hitler, it wasn’t just the SS, it basically took a whole lot of people buying into the killing of Jews. I still can’t quite wrap my brain around it, but it you ever want to read a good book on the subject, “Hitler’s Willing Executioners” made it somewhat more comprehensible to me.

    I couldn’t watch the whole video, these guys are creeping me out. Such a strange dichotomy. Here’s an antidote if you need one:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FsNLbK8_rBY

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