25.9.04

Apodos para los villanos

En Romenesko Letters, aparece una carta de un periodista de The Washington Post sobre el origen de los apodos de los tipos malos iraquíes tan empleados en los medios de comunicación:

From Tim Page, Washington Post: Am I the only one who has found the list of awkward, pseudo-descriptive nicknames for alleged Iraqi bad guys (and gals) dubious in the extreme? "Dr. Germ," "Chemical Ali," "Mrs. Anthrax" -- they all sound like names that could only have been fashioned by an American -- and an American who has spent too much time reading comic books, at that. I keep waiting for "Doctor Octopus" or "Red Skull" to put in an appearance.

Is there any proof that these individuals are in fact known to your average -- or even not-so-average -- Iraqi by these names? Or is this merely crude propaganda, like that book of playing cards that circulated last year? I've asked a couple of colleagues whose opinions I respect and received radically different answers, so I remain confused. Setting aside, for the moment, all questions of guilt or innocence, should journalists (mostly TV journalists) say that this or that person is "known" by a Marvel Comics nickname if in fact the nickname is nothing but a convenient invention?


Otro periodista responde y dice que cree que la mayoría de estos apodos proviene de los analistas de los servicios de inteligencia, aunque el de Chemical Ali ya tiene una larga historia detrás. Lo usaron primero los kurdos y el propio autor de las matanzas de kurdos con armas químicas llegó a adoptarlo, al menos en una ocasión:

From Derek Rose: Regarding Tim Page's query, press accounts I've read have made it clear that the nicknames "Dr. Germ" and "Mrs. Anthrax" are the inventions of Western intelligence analysts.

But it was the Kurds who dubbed Saddam's cousin, Interior Minister Ali Hassan al-Majid, as "Ali Chimyawi" (Chemical Ali), after his brutal use of poison gas against them in the 1988-89 Anfal campaign. In reports from out of Iraq, both the Christian Science Monitor (April 18, 1991) and the Associated Press (April 17, 1991) cited witnesses as saying Hassan had rounded up youths in Kirkuk and told them, "You know who I am: Chemical Ali." A 1991 BBC media monitoring report also captured the opposition radio using the nickname, as did a U.K. Guardian report from Kurdistan that year.