there is one thing about the horrific stories
coming out of Iraq that might possibly result
in benefit to America, it's the fact that the
American right -- sleazy, cold, amoral and vicious
-- have been exposed for what they are.
noted in an essay several days ago that one right
winger on Usenet was howling about the torture
stories. He had no problem with the torture; he
was just upset that someone was stupid enough
to videotape it. I noted that Usenet scum like
him are extreme examples, and aren't representative
of the American right.
out I was wrong. He was.
since the story broke, there's been a constant
stream of denial, truculence, defiance, and finger
pointing from the right, especially the Scaife/Moon/Ailes
shadow media. Limbaugh has whined constantly about
how the events in Iraq are nothing more than an
excuse for liberals to pile on the President,
and in his eyes, all outrage is partisan, doubtlessly
from people who want to see America destroyed.
The man who howled about trivial transgressions
of Democrats for years dismissed the torture as
just boys (or in Private English's case, something
much harder to describe) "blowing off steam."
provided in interesting case study. His aides
whined that although the story first broke nearly
two weeks earlier (and it turned out that the
Army had been investigating torture, rape and
other abuses in American controlled prisons long
before that) he knew nothing -- nuffink! -- until
the story broke in the papers last week. I suppose
that shouldn't come as any surprise; the man is
an idiot puppet, and there's no point in fretting
him over events that he can't control. So Putsch
tried the "mistakes were made" non-apology that
with the imperious and arrogant right, is the
closest they can ever come to admissions of wrongdoing.
When it became clear that this only made a horrifically
bad situation even worse, he came out and actually
apologized. Twice. It showed just how severe the
damage was, and how grave the situation had become.
The loathsome Donald Rumsfeld, under pressure
from all quarters to resign, was next to step
up and mewl his regrets, while Putsch staunchly
averred that he was standing by Rummy, no matter
how many women got raped or children burned. It's
nice to see the Moron-in-chief take a stand on
principle, isn't it?
of the best examples of the reaction of the GOP
and the American right came in the form of a column
by Cal Thomas. Now, I don't know Thomas personally,
and so I have no way of knowing if he is as sleazy,
cold, amoral and vicious as the rest of the American
right, or might be the sort who is kind to his
dogs and donates to his church. Perhaps he howled
in moral outrage for years over Monica Lewinsky,
always a touchstone of moral worth among the right.
But his column pretty well exemplifies the reaction
of the American right, and forever smashes any
claims to moral authority the right ever had.
starts out by saying, "Let's get the preliminaries
out of the way first: if members of America's
armed forced violated any rules and mistreated
prisoners of war, they should be punished in accordance
with accepted military law." Sounds reasonable
the mewlings, evasions and quibbling begin!
then says that since we don't know the "identity
and intentions" of these "allegedly abused prisoners,"
it was ok for the US to throw out the "book of
the very first day that the story broke, even
as the right was trying to pretend that the photos
showed isolated incidents and didn't reflect the
general behavior of the military in Iraq, there
was no "allegedly abused" about it; the photos
unequivocally showed abuse. No ifs, ands, or bare
butts about it. Nor is the reason they were prisoners
(and in the GOP's Iraq, no reason need be given
for incarceration -- there are no laws, no courts,
no rules) in any way germane. In a civilized society,
the mere fact of incarceration is deemed punishment,
and it doesn't much matter what the prisoners'
politics are, or why they're in there. Of course,
in this showcase of privatization and supply-side
economics that is the American nightmare called
Iraq, punishment can be blind, insensate, and
unremitting. All it takes is a sense of justification
by the punishers. I wonder if Thomas thinks American
prisons should be run the same way, or knows that
many of them are?
Thomas justifies the abuses by noticing that Iraq
has a Resistance, one that includes women and
children, and involves ambushes and shooting from
hidden positions. Ignoring the fact that America
invaded their country and is holding it captive,
he thinks that because of this, it's ok to rape,
burn, electrocute and humiliate prisoners. I hope
Thomas isn't allowed near small children or pets
with that kind of attitude.
is a favorite of the right. Saddam did it first.
Saddam was a vicious dirtbag, and therefore it's
ok for America to be a vicious dirtbag, as a warning
to other vicious dirtbags that being a vicious
dirtbag won't be tolerated by Americans, because
being a vicious dirtbag is wrong, wrong, wrong!
Implicit in this whine is the admission that Putsch,
Rumsfeld, and the rest of the administration are
the moral and ethical equivalents of Saddam Hussein.
a lot for regime change, doesn't it?
there, he goes into a blatantly racist screed,
accusing all Arabs of being no better than Saddam
(or the American government, apparently) and therefore
they deserve what they get. In one of the most
amazing lines heard yet from the trash right,
he writes, "We should be kind, generous, and humane
because that is who we are. But we should not
labor under false assumptions that such values
alone will change minds and hearts poisoned by
years of political and theological propaganda."
other words, America has values it must live up
to. Unless, of course, it doesn't draw the instant
admiration of America's victims, in which case,
all bets are off. Get out the hoods and leashes
and show them what REAL American values are, by
a unique one, he argues that the Arabs had humiliation
coming because they accepted billions of dollars
for their oil. Going by this logic, I guess we
can grab Bill Gates, strip him naked, duct tape
him to a chair, paint his penis pink, and strap
electrodes to his genitals. After all, he accepted
our money for Windows, and so has no right to
complain if we abuse him.
kind of an odd stance for Thomas, an avowed capitalist,
to take. More like the sort of attitude you might
expect from the revolutionaries in France in the
finishes up by quoting some British apologist
who says these isolated instances of abuse reflect
a lot of stress felt by the troops, who are dealing
with an ungrateful captive population. Life is
hard when you're a torture camp guard. There's
a lot of job-related stress, you know? None of
the prisoners appreciate you!
Thomas' pathetic apologistics notwithstanding,
the fact is that the abuses were widespread. Before
the story broke, the Army already had thirty investigations
open, and ten people had received dishonorable
worse to come. The CBC has resurrected a story
from the early days of the war, in which Americans
watched idly as Afghanistan's Northern Alliance
slaughtered over 3,000 people, mostly by cooking
them to death in transit vans. And all along,
there have been reports of capricious shootings
of civilians, and casual humiliations, similar
to those German troops liked to inflict on Jews
in the early days of the Holocaust, when Jews
still walked the streets of captive Nazi cities.
thought America would pay a horrific price for
invading Iraq. World Respect, trillions of dollars,
thousands of lives.
those are all trivial. America has lost something
far more important in Iraq.
never see a recovery from this, not in our lifetimes.
Thomas thinks it was justified.
Posted: May 10, 2004