Monday, June 21, 2004

On being better than that

Okay, so this kind of drives me nuts. Particularly this part:

I guess they are going to strip him, put women's panties on his head, let dogs bark at him and then set him free.

And this one:
I wonder if Nick Berg got to choose between being in a pile of naked people or being beheaded.
Do people not realize that it was more than just some junior high panty raid? That in addition to the underpants and the naked man piles, these folks were beaten and raped and sodomized and attacked by dogs? That people actually died from the abuses at Abu Ghraib?

Actually, I’m going to have to go with no, they don’t realize, because folks are too full-on lazy to actually read beyond the front page of the paper and the sports section.

And yet, folks act like this whole abuse scandal is okay, because hey, we’re still not as bad as Saddam. Apparently, that’s where we’ve gone with this, those are our standards of morality, we’ve got to be better than Saddam. The fact that our guys, the guys wearing our flag on their uniforms, behaved like absolute soulless animals is perfectly okay because Saddam Hussein was worse. Jesus Christ on a crutch.

I know it feels like it’s been months already, but it looks like we’ve got to go over this again: We went in as liberators. That was our only justification for going in. No matter how many innocent people were murdered under Saddam’s regime – and no matter how many are murdered by al Qaeda – nothing can justify the behavior of those contractors, MPs, and interrogators. Nothing. Nothing.

We are Americans. We are better than that. That’s really all there is to it. That’s the point of the Geneva Conventions – we can’t torture their guys because we don’t want our guys tortured.

And of course folks will argue that they’ve already done horrible things to our troops and contractors and that it justifies what has happened in a couple of prisons, actually, not just Abu Ghraib. But you know what? It really doesn’t. Because we’re Americans, and we’re better than that.

I think that the reason conservatives aren’t freaking out more about this is that they had no problem going in there in the first place. To them, we’re liberators, we’re saviors, we’ve rescued them from the tyranny of an evil dictator, and if a couple of guys get mauled by dogs or raped by guards while they’re in the pokey, well, that’s just the cost of doing business, they were probably terrorists anyway.

Liberals see it differently. From our end, we see that the US got bored with Afghanistan and blew off Osama bin Laden so that we could go after someone a little bit sexier. In the process, we decimated global policy, made a mockery of diplomacy, and seriously cheesed off a good number of former allies. Why do we have to adhere to the Geneva Accords and hold off on the torture? Because we have nothing left. We’re clinging desperately to the moral high road like a mountain climber watching that one last piton quiver in the rock wall and hoping to God it’s not going to slip. Not torturing people, not raping people, not threatening people with dogs or with the murder of their families, that is the only thing that we have left. Saddam Hussein, al Qaeda, they don’t have that left. We have it. And that’s all.

Jon Stewart said it in his block rocking commencement address at William & Mary:

But here’s the good news. You fix this thing, you’re the next greatest generation, people. You do this—and I believe you can—you win this war on terror, and Tom Brokaw’s kissing your ass from here to Tikrit, let me tell ya. And even if you don’t, you’re not gonna have much trouble surpassing my generation. If you end up getting your picture taken next to a naked guy pile of enemy prisoners and don’t give the thumbs up you’ve outdid us.
It’s funny ‘cause it’s true.

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