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Tim Kreider on invisible Saddam Hussein

From Tim Kreider's artist's statement for last week's The Pain -- When Will It End?:

I just could not let Saddam die. I know the man was a brutal dictator and a butcher and I ought not to celebrate him as a figure of fun. Partly it’s just that perverse impulse in me that refuses to take seriously what everyone else regards as unassailably sacrosanct or taboo. I am inexplicably cheered by the idea of his surviving, Elvis-like, in our imaginations. Perhaps he lives on as a symbol of the ineradicable authoritarianism and brutality in the world, a reminder that as long as human beings are cringing hierarchical animals that defer to authority, the sociopaths among us will inevitably rise to the top. Wherever there is a country held together by fear, wherever people are raped and tortured in secret prisons and buried in mass graves, Saddam is there. Wherever we bankroll dictators and look the other way from atrocities, whenever we smile and shake hands with devils for the sake of political expediency, Saddam is there. Wherever there is misguided and hubristic American bungling, wherever we turn brutal dictatorships into chaotic bloodbaths, Saddam is there. [Saddam] is with us always.

...I’ve often said that the main challenge facing political humorists these days is staying ahead of the absurdity curve as each day’s news outstrips the previous day’s attempts at parody. Well, this just in: the day Saddam Hussein was executed, Iraqis claimed to see his face in the moon. Also, Saddam Hussein’s sister is rumored to have hired a sorceress to render Saddam invisible. So now there is an invisible Saddam Hussein at large. You see what I have to contend with? Holy Jesus. I am shamed by the paucity of my imagination. There’s no way I could ever have made up anything that bizarre and hilarious. Rest assured you will be seeing Invisible Saddam frequently in The Pain in the future.

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