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Justin M. Stoddard

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Ignorance is Strength
May 10, 2004 — 9:00 pm

As the days march on, conservative (read neo-conservative) rhetoric is getting worse.

I’m going to attempt to keep a running log of some of the most asinine statements I read about the Iraq situation.

The following are some letters 60 Minutes II received after the airing of the now infamous prisoner abuse pictures:

Was I supposed to be horrified by the report of Iraqi prisoners being positioned in “pornographic” positions and humiliated by American soldiers? I was not. During your report, all I could think of was the murder, torture, maiming, burning and beheading of innocent civilians, women and children included, carried out by terrorists and supporters of Saddam Hussein. At least these men were men of war.

They had to pose for pornographic pictures? So what. We cannot imagine sitting at home on our couches the horrors our soldiers must face every day. Why not focus your attention on the unfair practices of our enemy?
–Sally Ainsley

This execrable apologia is wearing thin rather quickly.

Let me break it down for you Sally. American soldiers do not base the treatment of POWs on how our soldiers are treated in combat or confinement. American soldiers are bound by the rules of war outlined in the Geneva Convention, of which we are a signatory. Every last soldier in the United States Army knows what these rules are and why we have them in place. It’s a rather simple concept. We treat our POWs with humanity and dignity afforded to any human being. If said POW is accused of a crime (like planning a terrorist attack or mutilating the bodies of the dead), they are to be tried by a court of law.

We treat our POWs in this fashion not only because it’s the moral course of action, but also because we wish for any POWs held by the enemy to be treated in the same manner.

So, to answer your rhetorical question “They had to pose for pornographic pictures? So what.”; imagine your own brother, father, son being led along by a leash or being forced to masturbate for the camera. Can you visualize it? Can you understand it now?

Here’s another

At one time I would have condemned the way they were treated, but after recently seeing them burning Americans there, I say they should give those troops medals. An eye for an eye.
–J Guzzi

Again, as every well educated American should know, the philological adage “an eye for an eye” does not have any place in the way POWs under American care are treated.

These soldiers (including their leadership) deserve no better than a dishonorable discharge and some prison time to reflect upon their wrong doings.

And another:

Our country has 150,000 military personal in a desperate fight to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people. Do you think, by airing the reprehensible acts of a small percentage of these soldiers, you have helped in this cause? What, other than ratings and increased revenue, did you expect to achieve with this program which verges on treason in a time of war?
–Sondra Cutcliffe

Ah, the old ‘treason’ argument.

Sondra, 60 Minutes II did the exact right thing in airing this story (although inexcusably late at the insistence of the military). A free press should not concern itself with the “desperate fight to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people”. A free press should report the news, whatever the news is. The fact that you are disturbed to the point of crying ‘treason’ over a story every American should know about speaks volumes about you and your mental capacity.

Ignorance used to be something to be pitied. Charles Dickens wrote about it in “A Christmas Carol”:

‘Oh, Man. look here. Look, look, down here.’ exclaimed the Ghost.

They were a boy and a girl. Yellow, meagre, ragged, scowling, wolfish; but prostrate, too, in their humility. Where graceful youth should have filled their features out, and touched them with its freshest tints, a stale and shrivelled hand, like that of age, had pinched, and twisted them, and pulled them into shreds. Where angels might have sat enthroned, devils lurked, and glared out menacing. No change, no degradation, no perversion of humanity, in any grade, through all the mysteries of wonderful creation, has monsters half so horrible and dread.

Scrooge started back, appalled. Having them shown to him in this way, he tried to say they were fine children, but the words choked themselves, rather than be parties to a lie of such enormous magnitude.

‘Spirit. are they yours.’ Scrooge could say no more.

‘They are Man’s,’ said the Spirit, looking down upon them. ‘And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it.’ cried the Spirit, stretching out its hand towards the city. ‘Slander those who tell it ye. Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse. And abide the end.’

I myself do not pity the ignorance that is currently pervading America. People who advocate torture, sadistic humiliation or the outright murder of American held POWs are certainly ignorant. People who advocate the censorship of news or resort to the label of ‘treason’ of those who transmit the news are also ignorant, and dangerously so. Ignorance of this type is the direct result of lazy thinking.

And that, my fellow Americans, is just unrefined stupidity.


— Justin M. StoddardComments (0)

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