The Other Charlotte is right — the abuses at Abu Ghraib are too disgusting for words. Nevertheless I want to say a few more words about the matter. I’d ordinarily be linking to and discussing at length the newly released videos of Saddam’s treatment of prisoners in the same place. The WaPost also had a report on the Saddam videos: “The administration,” the Post reports, “has wanted to ‘demonstrate the true nature of Saddam’s regime, but it’s unknown through most of Western Europe and even in the United States,’ said the official, who requested anonymity because of the issue’s sensitivity. ‘What’s really surprising is it’s even unknown in parts of Iraq.'”
I don’t want to act like a liberal who, in the guise of “holding America to higher standards,” gives America a back eye and glosses over or excuses the even more atrocious behavior of our enemies.
For the record, the Saddam videos include forced amputations and other things far beyond what we now know happened in Abu Ghraib. But we now know that the things done by US soldiers in Abu Ghraib were so sickening that I’ve, for the time being, lost my zest to compare them to the even worse abuses that preceded them when the prison was under Saddam.
What kind of mind devises the sorts of abuses that Abu Ghraib prisoners met with under our soldiers? Why was it so sexualized in nature?
I don’t believe this was representative of America, but it does seem like the right time to reread National Review editor Rich Lowry’s piece “Abu Ghraib & Us“:
“So it is that in Abu Ghraib and its aftermath we see some of the seamy undercurrents of America magnified in a horrifying fashion — in particular, the celebration of cruelty, the ubiquity of pornography, and a cult of victimhood. Any society, of course, will produce weak and malicious people, and prison abuses are nothing new. Andersonville, Ga., is still notorious for the conditions in the Confederate prison camp there. But the distinct echoes of Abu Ghraib in our culture are unmistakable.
“Consider the iconic film of the 1990s, Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. It includes a scene of the rape of a man imprisoned and kept as a sexual slave, which prompted laughs in theaters. The victim, ’The Gimp,’ became a figure of fun. Tarantino’s latest, the Kill Bill movies, present the same romance of power and violence, arbitrarily and stylishly wielded. Cruelty, Tarantino tells us, can be fun.”