Friday, June 17, 2005

Odds and ends...

A few random thoughts...

  • Illinois Senator Dick Durbin is taking heat for comparing descriptions of torture and abuse at Guantanamo Bay to similar abuses in Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, and under Cambodian dictator Pol Pot. Read his full comments and you see that he's on the money. The right-wing shouting class have taken his comments out of context, however, and are accusing him of treason and such. Here's the thing -- not only is the good Senator allowed his thoughts on the subject (anybody remember freedom of speech?), but he's absolutely right. In the case of Guantanamo, we have become the bad guys, and you can't blame Dick Durbin for pointing out the disturbing truth. My hearty congratulations to Senator Durbin for having the rare courage to speak truth to power -- and let's hope that many others follow his lead. (Props also to Amnesty International for rightly describing Guantanamo as this generation's gulag -- despite the later back pedaling.)

  • Speaking of Guantanamo, you have to love VP Dick "Who You Lookin' At Punk" Cheney's response to critics of the operation. Last week, at an appearance before the National Press Club, the big Dick said that his "own personal view of it is that those who are most urgently advocating that we shut down Guantanamo probably don't agree with our policies anyway." In other words, if you don't agree with me, you must be wrong and I don't have to listen to you. You gotta admire this guy's sheer amount of arrogance, if nothing else.

  • Further, Cheney said that the "individuals who are at Guantanamo Bay are dangerous terrorists who seek to do harm to the American people." In other words, we're now locking people up just because they might do something bad. Correct me on this, but I thought the whole jurisprudence thing was to presume someone innocent until proven guilty, which means you don't arrest someone for thinking about a crime -- you take care of them after the crime has been committed. So what we're doing in Guantanamo is not just presuming guilt (no trials, remember), but preemptively locking them up before they've actually done anything wrong. Whatever happened to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights? This is a national embarrassment at best, and truly criminal at worst.

  • Next item, Florida Governor Jeb "I'm the Smart One" Bush has instructed prosecutors to investigate the circumstances surrounding Michael Schiavo's call to 911 when his wife collapsed and went into a coma fifteen years ago. Why is he doing this? Is it a quest for justice -- or a thirst for payback? This is the most ridiculous thing I've heard since... well, since Jeb got involved in the whole Terri Schiavo feeding-tube business in the first place. How low can these despicable despots go when they've been crossed?

  • Finally, and much less important in the cosmic scheme of things, we now hear that Tom "I'm Not Gay" Cruise has asked Katie Holmes, his girlfriend of just a few weeks, to marry him. Either these two people are clearly insane, or this is the most blatantly obvious publicity stunt since President George "I Used to Fly These Things, Really" Bush landed a fighter plane on that aircraft carrier. Does anyone really believe this shit? Who are they trying to fool, anyway? Life just doesn't get much stranger than this.

But these are just my random opinions; reasonable minds may disagree.


commentator said...

Look, saying our troops are acting like Hitler (who killed over 6 million Jews, and hundreds of thousands of others), Pol Pot (who killed more than a million of his own people), or the Soviet gulags where 25 million met painful death through overwork and starvation, because a prisoner had to stay in a cell that was no colder than what soldiers endure on guard duty in New England, and no hotter than what the Marines are facing in Iraq is just absurd. How many prisoners were killed at Guantanamo again? Oh that's right, NONE.

There is no comparison between our troops/law enforcement officials, and the animals Durbin referenced. That's just sick.

The Curmudgeon said...

No one is saying that our troops/jailers/whatever committed atrocities on the scale of Hitler et al. What Durbin is pointing out is that the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo is not how we're used to treating prisoners; it's how other regimes, regimes less moral than ours, typically treat their prisoners. (He could have added various Latin American dictatorships to the list -- you know, the ones where political dissidents just "disappear" without a trace.)

Prisoners of any type -- in our domestic prison system or as prisoners of war -- have certain rights, according to the Geneva convention and to our own higher moral laws. If we want other countries to treat our prisoners humanely, we have to do the same. It's about setting a good example, yes, but it's also about behaving in a manner befitting our standing in the world. Put simply, when treating prisoners and adversaries we should adhere to the golden rule -- do onto others as we would have them to onto us. Behaving in a proper fashion should be the American thing to do.

BTW, I'm not blaming the troops on the ground (nor is Senator Durbin), at least not directly. The behaviors engaged in at Guantanamo and in Iraq were at least tolerated by upper command, if not outright encouraged. That's the shame in all this; our leaders have failed us. Instead of pushing the envelope on what constitutes acceptable behavior, they should be going out of their way to distance themselves from the type of behavior that we're supposedly fighting to eliminate. If it wasn't so sickening, the irony would be delightful.

If you believe the treatment of these prisoners is acceptable, then perhaps you would have liked living in Communist Russia. We're better than that -- or we should be. True patriots don't condone this type of behavior or blindly accept these types of faults; true patriots point out those things that aren't perfect, and try to change them to make this a better country. Don't blame the messenger -- recognize when something is wrong and work to make America even better.