01 September 2006

Words have meanings

Two posts out of one article.

I am only using this article because I am too lazy to look up any of the thousand articles that contain these same words: "tortures ... Abu Ghraib."

I have a friend, an Air Force Academy grad, who spent six years as a 'guest' of the North Vietnamese at a camp in Laos. I once asked Ed if it was true that all the pilots the NVA captured underwent the "Vietnamese Rope Trick." He said, "No, just the one's they thought were likely to be particularly ornery. " I said, "So they did it to you, huh?" Ed smiled and said, "Yup. Well, let's order breakfast."

Ed has had both knees and a shoulder replaced. His hearing is shot. He has, over the years, shared several gut-wrenching stories of the abuse he suffered (though I had to coax them out of him. The most remarkable thing about Ed is his lack of bitterness.)

When I see the words "Abu Ghraib" and "torture" in the same sentence (at least when referring to the administration of the prison since Saddam fell) I get really angry. This is what the American prison keepers are accused of:
  • making a bunch of prisoners get naked and form a pyramid
  • making some of them pose as if they were engaging in homosexual acts
  • letting them think they were going to be attacked by guard dogs if they did not cooperate
  • forced to stand in "stress positions" for hours at a time
  • putting a leash around their necks and letting a moron lead them around
  • forcing them to sit in a circle & watch the moron having sex with her married boyfriend.

I am not proud of any of this conduct by our service people, for whom, in general, I have the highest regard. In contrast to the above list, just try to imagine the things that went on in this prison under Saddam. Without making anyone lose their lunch, it often involved electric drills, vats of acid, rape, and lots of wires connecting car batteries to .....

What the Americans subjected most of these prisoners to was no worse than a fraternity hazing. Words have meanings. To call this torture is to degrade the suffering of every real torture victim.

But, the argument goes, being forced to expose yourself to a strange woman is torture, because in their culture, that is worse than having a hole drilled through you genitals.

Well, then, I guess I would suggest that this is more evidence of a politically incorrect conclusion of mine: their culture is the problem.

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