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Missing Gaddafi

By Chip Tsao | Oct 27, 2011

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2011 really looks like the Year of the Rat. And indeed, it is a very bad year for this most discriminated against and hated under-species. Bin Laden came first, followed by Gaddafi and his sons, and the year is still tick-tocking to its end. Should the world expect the Syrians to claim their trophy as well? Yet this is all déjà-vu; former Liberian dictator Samuel Doe and Afghanistan president Mohammad Najibullah both suffered similar ghastly fates—tortured by their political rivals, screaming in pain, their genital organs cut off (a rite Gaddafi was luckily spared), all recorded on camera early in the digital age, in the name of “freedom of information.”

The way third-world tribal revolutionaries treat their tyrants must earn great envy from those who perished from alleged CIA foul play, such as the martyrdom of the progressive Patrice Lumumba, the socialist Salvador Allende, or even former Catholic Vietnamese president Ngo Dinh Diem. Western powers were much kinder even when they felt the need to have their enemies put down. Some rats are more equal than others.

The world without the big sinister letter “G” looks, rather oddly, a bit insipid and tasteless. We have lived through not only the Cold War, but the CNN age, with this colorful man—a strange style of Arabic dandyism with his frizzy black hair, diabolical gaze and gaudy robes in a bold fusion of red, yellow and green; his glamor even outshone some of Versace’s male models.

We’ve gotten used to the surprises designed and enacted by his somewhat avant-garde use of terrorism—the shooting of London policewoman Yvonne Fletcher, and the bombing of a Berlin disco, finally culminating in the plane bombing over Lockerbie, killing all aboard and a few Scots on the ground. The episodes were interspersed with his beautiful bodyguard entourage and occasional harangue on the stage of the United Nations—a combination of Khrushchevian uncouthness and Hitlerian hysteria.

We’ve gotten used to Colonel Gaddafi in the same way cinephiles become addicted to Quentin Tarantino, although Gaddafi’s budget was blood. Suddenly this man is no more. A genre of terrorism is gone. Is claiming that you miss Colonel Gaddafi more selfish and politically incorrect than when some American liberals start missing Chairman Mao and Ho Chi Minh? After all, the grim and dark-blue Maoist suits worn by the latter offered far less style inspiration.

Watching the slaughter of the most notorious Rat of North Africa, we Hongkongers have even fewer complaints. At least we have the British-knighted Donald Tsang. We know his “Sir” title is a guarantee of benevolence and civilization—as some cynics in the West might one day turn to the Far East expecting a CNN relay of some amateurish torture footage showing the lost legendary art of the Death of the Thousand Cuts.

Chip Tsao is a best-selling author, columnist and a former producer for the BBC. His columns have also appeared in Apple Daily, Next Magazine and CUP Magazine, among others. 

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