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Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Left's Farcical Claim of Prisoner Abuse


When the uproar at the “abuses” of terrorists at the Abu Ghraib facility in Iraq were swirling, and America's enemies at home and abroad were condemning the U.S. for those “abuses,” I roundly ridiculed the criticism as foolish. It seemed absurd to compare, as Senator Dick Durbin did, what the U.S. did with the true perpetrators of torture.

Last night on the History Channel I saw programs about the Bataan Death March and the prisoners of Cabanatuan. Beside the horrors of the treatment of American and Filipino soldiers at the hands of the barbarians of the Japanese forces, Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay are luxury resorts.

Having watched these accounts of real torture and inhumanity, my reaction to the truly stupid comparisons of America’s enemies has grown geometrically.

Those who try to equate Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo with the Japanese treatment of POWs need a good lesson in history, and a strong dose of attitude adjustment.

9 comments:

i eat puupies said...

Of course you're right- nothing has come out about Abu Ghraib or any of the other detention facilities that comes close to the Nazis, Japanese, Soviets, Khmers, etc.

But it's sad that the current discourse is comprised of one side saying "we're like them" and the other's retort is "we're not AS bad"

James Howard Shott said...

But it's sad that the current discourse is comprised of one side saying "we're like them" and the other's retort is "we're not AS bad"

I would word that somewhat differently: But it's sad that the current discourse involves any American saying "we're like them" and any other American having to respond to it.

i eat puppies said...

Yes, I thought you might : l

Mr. Middle America said...

Let me provide an analogy (or two) to bring a little reality into this conversation.

Scenario One: Someone is driving 70 mph in a 55 mph speed zone. A cop pulls him over, asks him if he knows that he is speeding. The guy says, "yes, I am sorry, this is a busy road with lots of little kids playing along side of it after school." Says he was irresponsible for such behavior. The cop, although compassionate that they man conceded in his wrong-doing, in accordance with the law, issues him a ticket. This is a good exchange. They drive off, both serving as men and carrying out their constitutional and moral dictates.

Scenario Two: Someone is driving 70 mph in a 55 mph speed zone. A cop pulls him over, asks him if he knows that he is speeding. The guy says, "hell no, I wasn't speeding." The cop tells him that he has evidence that he was speeding. The man still denies that he was speeding. The cop explains to him this is a surburban two-lane road with lots of kids playing along side it, is he sure that he does not want to take responsibility for his actions. The guy says, "screw you pig, I wasn't doing anything wrong, nothing that everyone else doesn't do." The cop writes him a ticket, he will not sign it. The cop says, you do not have to, this is all on tape, we will see each other in court, meantime. The cop tells his buddies of the situation, and they all watch the man's car, and he gets other tickets. He betrayed the trust given to him by the general public, and those charged with protecting the general public, made him face the consequences, eventually winding up losing his right to drive.

Such is the state of affairs...

There are guidelines, rules as to how prisoners should be treated. This is what divides the United States from other countries. If you do not want to have the spot light shining on you, do it like we were supposed to do it in the first place. Period. No excuses.

James Howard Shott said...

I don't buy your argument, Brad. In every -- EVERY -- prisoner facility, some wrongs are going to be committed. It is inevitible when you have violent, difficult prisoners and guards who must deal with them. Some of the wrongs are purposeful, some just happen because of heightened emotions, or threatening situations. The point is that some WILL occur. Period.

Now, the argument comes down to a very simple question: "Did what happened to the prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo compare in severity to the brutal, inhuman treatment of the American and Filipino prisoners I mentioned?"

The answer is: No way. Not even close. Worlds apart. WWII POWs = torture; Abu Ghraib/Guantanamo = discomfort.

The U.S. has maintained its high standing in the treatment of detainees, despite that there may have been/were a few cases of failure. But to compare us with the Japanese, Russians, Pol Pot, is just stupid in the extreme, and is in my opinion helpful to the enemy.

Mr. Middle America said...

My point is simple. Our values are not relative. Especially not to Pol Pot or the russians, et al.

Putting people in a pile of nakedness is not discomfort. That is... NOT American, as I interpret it.

We are supposed to be much higher up the totem pole, James! There should be no excuse. Not for this. ANd there should be no excuse for any other country to put our people in torture. For the simple reason that you cannot faithfully discredit another country for treating our people like that (and justify further, more agressive attacks or get the world behind us) if we are doing the same or similar thing.

In my book it is not acceptable. Not now, not ever. I do not want to hear about gradations. There is a truth and a standard. It cannot be relaxed just because it fell into our lap.

It needs to be known, and we need to hear about it... in words and deed... that this is not acceptable. Not a wink and smile noted, either. I mean this needs to be tended to.

A real leader would stand up tall and scream at the top of his lungs this is wrong. Has Bush done that well enough? I hope so. But, there is NO WAY to justify what has happened in the past with this.. It needs to be strongly condemed and delt with...

James Shott said...

Putting people in a pile of nakedness is not discomfort. That is... NOT American, as I interpret it.

I didn't say it was "American," I said it wasn't torture and wasn't on the same level as what the Japanese, etc. did. I also did excuse it, or say it should be excused, merely that we are talking about two far different things.

I do not want to hear about gradations.

Well, by that standard spitting on the sidewalk and murder are the same thing. I strongly disagree: There are gradations. Some things are worse than other things. What the U.S. did is not the same thing that the Japanese did.

We do need to know about Abu Ghraib's irregularities, but we don't need U.S. Senators, U.S. citizens and U.S media making stupid comparisons and 24-hour-per-day references to atrocities that are on so much worse a scale that it affects how the world looks at us. That is helpful to the enemy, and it is anti-American.

It was tended to, and U.S. military people, including a general, were punished, some of them with jail time.

Mr. Middle America said...

"...that are on so much worse a scale that it affects how the world looks at us. That is helpful to the enemy, and it is anti-American."

I need to talk about two things: (1) Transparancy and (2) We are the world's country.

(1) Transparancy. Discussing details of our government's involvement in all of its affairs. I do not think it is Anti-America. I think that it is in all actuality the one principle that defines the United States of America... Specifically the whole "for and by" the people. What you are referring to is THE dialogue that assists people in making decisions about voting habits (like in 1994, for example).

I voted for George W. Bush... TWICE. That doesn't mean that I give him an out when he (or his administration, or any level of government in which his leadership structure sets the tone) does something that I honestly feel causes detriment to the long-term viability of our nation's ability to influence change... or to propagate the rights of Average Joe and Jane (here and abroad).

(2) We are indeed the world's country... or have been through most of our collective existence. Every nation in the world has interests here. In terms of people and capital. This is protecting us more than any administration will.

When we become a bully, and justify our "bullyness" with blanket statements of, "Well, we only did it this much while other countries did it that much..." WE become the other... the Russia... the Saudia Arabia... etc.

All I am saying is that it is our right and our duty, as citizens, to hold our government (civil servants) responsible for lapses in judgement, as we are individuals are judged for our lapses of judgement. By doing so, we maintain our government philosophy and our face to the world.

That's the way I am looking at it. We all have our little spin and politics to throw on it.

Looks like we will have to agree to disagree.

James Howard Shott said...

RE: Transparency - In how many other countries, including the likes of WWII Japan and Germany, and including present day countries like Iran and North Korea, does anyone have even a glimmer of an idea what unspeakable things are being done to prisoners? In the U.S., we know. We may not know every single time, but we know about these things. The fact that critics know about the irregularities at Abu Ghraib is proof of our transparency.

RE: World's leading country - Well, that's what you say, and that's what I say. But there are many Americans who believe the U.S. is down in the dirt with the worst nations on Earth. And there are nations and citizens of nations around the globe who hate the U.S. So, if we are the leader, we don't get no respect. That said, however bad people may think the U.S. is, it is so far beyond most (perhaps all) others in many ways, and the way we treat enemy combatants is near the top of that list. Are we perfect. No. Can we be perfect? No. Should we try to be perfect? Absolutely. And the evidence that we do try is that military people, including a general, have been disciplined for the Abu Ghraib incidents, despite the minor nature of the screw ups.

All I am saying is that it is our right and our duty, as citizens, to hold our government (civil servants) responsible for lapses in judgement, as we are individuals are judged for our lapses of judgement. By doing so, we maintain our government philosophy and our face to the world.

I don't disagree with any of that. But I think we've done due dilligence, and I think the "outrage" of the Left is hyperbolic BS, all things considered.