Wednesday, May 12, 2004

From the tube

I just saw a clip of an interview with the American prison guard (the woman with the short hair holding the Iraqi on a leash) saying that they felt nothing they did was past what they were told to do.

I should read the Taguba and Red Cross reports before I wax poetic on where in the chain of command this came from - especially since I heard there was a 3 star general's memo that gave such orders. But I can't help but think the order was something a bit more vague. Break them however you can, boys and girls. Do whatever it takes. Think about what they've done to your brothers in arms. And it just escalates from there.

Why does it have a sexual bent? Why do so many stand-up comedians resort to dick and fart jokes? Because base level humor and humiliation is borderless. There is no culture in which the actions depicted in these photos would not be an ultimate form of humiliation. It packs extra punch in the Arab/Muslim world, especially when you have women doing it to men.

Is there something wrong with me that these actions just aren't so shocking? No, let me amend that. It's not that they aren't shocking, it's that I don't see the need to essentialize them as the actions of a few depraved hearts. I think every single human is capable of depravity. All of us. You, me, your mom, my brother, whoever. As soon as you stick them on the outside you set up the next incident.

And, by the way, how many more times can we as a civilization handle hearing "I was just following orders," as a way to escape responsibility?

Maybe that's why I really am not cut out for military service. I might tell 'em to shove it.

Or worse yet - I might not.

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