Monday, May 03, 2004

The Spot That Will Not Out
I had about half a news fast this past weekend--between traveling and recovering from traveling, a couple of top-of-the-hour NPR newscasts was all I got. (I did catch Bob Edwards' final interview on Morning Edition Friday, with CBS's Charles Osgood, who was Edwards' first interview on Morning Edition in 1979.) And I haven't had much appetite for my usual reading today, either, but I did take the time to look at some of those photos of mistreated Iraqi POWs.

A friend of mine says that looking at them she was, for the first time, ashamed to be an American. I am surprised it took her so long. I've been ashamed for quite a while now. What makes me most ashamed are the Americans in the photos, smiling and laughing. Who the fuck do we think we are? In The New Yorker, Seymour Hersh details the alleged abuses of prisoners. What some of our soldiers have done to some of our prisoners gives the lie to most of the pompous justifications we have been spouting about being liberators who act only for the good of humanity. These are the actions of morally bankrupt monsters. We can punish those who have committed the offenses--but as for the stain on our national honor (such as our national honor is after three years of Bush), it's a spot that will not out.

Nevertheless, the few prisoner photos I saw on the New Yorker's website were no more disturbing to me personally than the coffin photos that caused such a kerfuffle when they were released to the public by Russ Kick of the Memory Hole a couple of weeks ago. The rows and rows of flag-draped coffins were (and remain) as profoundly depressing as any image of the war. The fact that it took a Freedom of Information Act request to get them--and that their release set off a firestorm of controversy over their "appropriateness"--is somehow fitting, though. As Americans, we love to buy things but we don't like to see the bill. Row after row of flag-draped coffins carrying the remains of husbands, fathers, brothers, sisters, mothers, and daughters is the bill for Bush's war. As long as we lack the courage to stand up and tell him to get the hell out of town, the bill is going to come due again and again.

Who the fuck do we think we are?

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