I'm as enraged as anyone by the photographic evidence of American GIs abusing and torturing Iraqi POWs, and the calculated "apologies" coming from the Bush Administration. Neil Steinberg in the Sun-Times today tackles the subject head-on.
Beginning with a blunt refuting of the President's assertion that the photographs don't reflect the "true nature and heart of America," the normally conservative Steinberg takes the administration to task with brutal efficiency for the actions of the army guards at Abu Ghraib prison.
The simple reasoning of Steinberg's column- that individuals freed from the constraints of their civilized society regress to barbaric behavior- works as a well-thought counter to the bluster of Rush Limbaugh, who chalked up the abuse to a "boys will be boys" mentality. Here's some transcript from Limbaugh's Wednesday show (via The O'Franken Factor.) Judging from the rambling defense, I'd say that Rush found a new maid/dealer:
This is no different than what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation and we're going to ruin people's lives over it, and we're going to hamper our military effort, and then we're going to really hammer 'em because they had a good time.
He compared the abuse of prisoners-of-war to a hazing initiation. I've been through my share of military hazing initiations. The worst thing that ever happened to me during one was receiving the four-hundred dollar bar tab after I was officially recognized as a Turtle. I see where he was going here; every hazing initiation I ever took part in or knew of had an element of homoeroticism and defaming. Who knew that Skull-and-Bones initiates were bound together naked, nut-to-butt, and forced to masturbate while being led around by a dog leash? This also affirms my belief that the University campus Greek system is a fertile breeding ground for the Republicans of tomorrow. I'm guessing Rush Limbaugh was a cross between Greg Marmalade and Flounder. And also a power bottom.
You know, these people are being fired at everyday - I'm talking about the people having a good time.
I've been in a war zone and "having a good time" was defined as "going out, getting drunk, and getting laid."
You ever hear of emotional release?
Yes. I'm told Oxycontin hampers that.
You ever hear of need to blow some steam off?
That's why I exercise.
These people are the enemy!
I thought we were supposed helping them build a democracy that would be the standard-bearer of the Middle East. Silly, naive me!!
So, if I read that right, a man who recieved medical deferments from Vietnam said we should view the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib as nothing more than a hazing gone wrong. I wonder if Rush was a fan of "Oz" and if he got excited during the shower scenes.
Then there was a quote from the mother of Army Specialist Lynndie England, whose face was plastered on the front page of the Washington Post this week holding a dog leash fastened around the neck of an naked Iraqi prisoner.
"And what the (Iraqis) do to our men and women are just? The rules of the Geneva Convention, does that apply to everybody or just us?"
Well, seeing as we are the chief warmongers there, seeing as our soldiers are the ones photograhed torturing Iraqi POWs captured during a war, seeing as even our President said that we should be above that type of behavior (although he may have been tied to a young strapping Eli during a Skull-and-Bones ceremony in the late sixties and forced to simulate anal sex) I'd say that this is a time that the Geneva Convention absolutely applies to just us.
But maybe I'm just a liberal.