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May 07, 2004

Decency & Dignity Denied

Why is it that glory reflects upon the nation as a whole, but shame is to be blamed on a few rogues who don't represent the rest of us?

We are supposed to be different. We are supposed to be better. So much better that we shouldn't even be compared to the previous guy in charge - you know, the one who was the dictator committing all that evildoing.

You can say up and down that Saddam, Milosevic, Mugabe, Kim Jong Il, etc. are all very bad men who have committed atrocities against their own people, and you'd be right. What that means is that we, as the freedom-loving, oppressed-people-liberating flagbearers of democracy should have been extra-vigilant about our own actions. We should hold ourselves above and beyond the standards we're expecting others to commit to.

People who stupidly wonder why the US could possibly invoke such hatred now have another reason to ignore. Do you feel safer now, do you think our soldiers are safer - now and in the future - now that there's proof of violations of the Geneva Convention? The Middle East already believed us to be savages and barbarians - now they have images that they can twist anyway they like to smear all of us.

Some links:

Taguba Report

"Torture at Abu Ghraib" New Yorker piece by Seymour Hersh asserting that these abusive activities were encouraged and condoned so as to allow for more effective interrogations.

"Battlefield of Dreams" [Paul Krugman, NYT, 5/4] "What's truly shocking in Iraq, however, is the privatization of purely military functions." Did you know that we're outsourcing interrogation duties? That some of the people accused of the abuses are "contractors," and that the military can only recommend what should be done about them, that there are no laws to address them because they are civilians?

Early on we had the soap opera regarding Jessica Lynch. Now we have another West Virginian, Lynddie England, labeled in the Australian press as a "Good ol' girl who enjoyed cruelty" [Sharon Churcher, The Daily Telegraph, 5/7]:

"Lynndie England, 21, a rail worker's daughter, comes from a trailer park in Fort Ashby, West Virginia, which locals proudly call "a backwoods world".

She faces a court martial, but at home she is toasted as a hero.

At the dingy Corner Club Saloon they think she has done nothing wrong.
A lot of people here think they ought to just blow up the whole of Iraq," Colleen Kesner said.

"To the country boys here, if you're a different nationality, a different race, you're sub-human. That's the way girls like Lynndie are raised.

"Tormenting Iraqis, in her mind, would be no different from shooting a turkey. Every season here you're hunting something. Over there, they're hunting Iraqis."

It's hard to qualify this kind of reception as anything but a disaster. If we are getting coverage like this from friendly countries, the coverage in hostile countries has got to be exponentially worse.

Yours, &c., LC | 12:03 PM | Politics | TrackBack (0)

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