Sunday, February 19, 2006

The tortured logic of Abu Ghraib apologists

The Guardian Newsblog asks whether the recently-published Abu Ghraib photos are newsworthy or gratuitous. Really--this is a no-brainer, unless one is of the opinion that everything that has transpired up to and including yesterday that shows "our side" in a bad light should be erased from the historical record (the John Howard approach to newsworthiness). There is of course the question of unfinished business regarding the prosecution of those responsible for the abuses; the abuses themselves, therefore, are always worth revisiting. Furthermore, the images force us to take a more circumspect view of the meme that "we" are so much better than "them." If the publication of these photos lead to anti-American sentiment and attacks upon Coalition troops, as the Pentagon fears--then the blame lies with the military and intelligence cultures that made the abuses possible in the first place. Not SBS.

Many of the Newsblog commenters concur; but at least two contributors have an Orwellian take on the scandal that simply beggars belief. "Pete Knolls" opines:

All these pictures show me is what happens when you crash two planes into the WTC and incinerate 3000 people. People do not know that it is wrong to harm others unless they themselves know what it is like to suffer. These pictures depict people who are being both punished by and taught about suffering. As one prisoner supposedly put it "I now know why it is bad to harm other beings. I myself do not like to suffer so I now know others do not as well."
Further down the page, "JackNelson"--who later informs us that his father "was responsible for the deaths of more than 200,000 Muslims during the late 60s and early 70s and yet was able to look me in the eye and tell me 'I felt no hatred or anger toward a single Muslim'"--offers his thoughts:
The American troops are torturing the Muslim captives with the intention to show them that suffering is bad and that when they make others suffer they are engaging in negative behavior.
What. The. Fuck??? "Yes, Your Honour, I raped her: but only in order to show her that rape is bad . . . " This is the "Chicken Lover" defence.

The last word must go to "Dave" . . .

Alright let's recap the arguments:

(1) The press is guilty of cowardice for not re-publishing cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed because it is afraid of Muslim retaliation.

(2) The press is guilty of provoking Muslim retaliation by publishing photos of Abu Ghraib in the midst of a controversy surrounding cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed.