Via Media Matters: Rush Limbaugh assigns blame.
If you look at these pictures you cannot deny that there are elements of homoeroticism and as was stated by a woman -- and I forget her name [Donna M. Hughes] -- column on National Review Online yesterday, her point was, -- yeah, I've seen things like this on American websites. You can find these if you have the passwords to these various porn sites, you can see things like this. And her point was maybe these kids -- the soldiers, the guards whoever, who are of a certain age group, who've grown up with access to this -- are simply acting out what they've on these websites or something, just for the fun of it. Or maybe other reasons.
This is the elaborated Bad Apples defense-- you know why they did it, those bad apples? They did it because they were allowed to look at porn. And you know what else? It's because Clinton gayed up the military. Homoerotic. Maybe just for fun-- or maybe other reasons. We know who to blame for that, don't we? Goddamned right we know who to blame.
Nick Kristof is in Iran, and his last two columns have been fun. Here's the first. But, as a public service, I point out to you that if you want to know why you should never ever marry an Iranian woman, just read the second to last line in this one.
The problem of Abu Ghraib, as I keep trying to say, is much larger than just the impression it leaves in the Arab world. But, in case you had any doubts, here's a sampling of reaction there.
U.S. military officials told NBC News that the unreleased images showed U.S. soldiers severely beating an Iraqi prisoner nearly to death, having sex with a female Iraqi female prisoner and "acting inappropriately with a dead body." The officials said there was also a videotape, apparently shot by U.S. personnel, showing Iraqi guards raping young boys.
This will define America for generations. (Note, please, that they "have sex" with the woman, but "rape" the boy.)
Do you really think it's alarmist to point out that Americans can be put away indefinitely on nothing more than one man's whim; that we have a collection of legal black holes: at Guantanamo, on ships around the world, in Iraq; that our soldiers blithely torture detainees; and that fully half the country still thinks the President is doing a good job? Do you wonder how totalitarian regimes come about? This is how: with the consent of the governed.
Look, I, and my friends and family, all live in urban areas, assuming our share of the risk of terrorist attacks. If this is being protected, I'll take my chances. I don't want to live like this, and I don't want these things done in my name. What happened to death before dishonor? Or is it already too late for that?
UPDATE: For why I think the Abu Ghraib pictures are particularly bad, and worse, in important ways, than the invasion or regular brutality, please see this previous post. The Daily Brew has similar thoughts.
ODD: Please see this post for an explanation of why the quoted passage doesn't appear in the linked story.
Ed perseveres, only to learn what many have discovered before him, that three-ways tend to resemble a three-car race where one car is always in the pits.Ebert's tone is so knowing, I have to ask myself: Is fame really that much of an aphrodisiac? Roger Ebert in a three-way? With his brother and his brother's wife, maybe. But maybe Ebert just "knows" this the same way I "know" it: we've been told. Now, I guess we all know; but I don't want to dissuade the intrepid, so by all means, feel free to confirm. (Maybe, if it's not going well, you can say, to no one in particular, "Ebert said it would be like this," and refuse to explain...)
Via Leiter, this is Helen Vendler's argument for the centrality of artistic endeavor in the humanities. It's worth a couple of chuckles, not least of all for the design of the page, which I'll hold against her even though it probably wasn't her decision.
Things go wrong from the start:
Philosophy, conceived of as embodying truth, and history, conceived of as a factual record of the past, were proposed as the principal embodiments of Western culture, and given pride of place in general education programs.
That's a stupid view of philosophy and history. And it's just false that the former discipline is given pride of place in anything, really; count FTEs before throwing stones.
After all, it is by their arts that cultures are principally remembered. For every person who has read a Platonic dialogue, there are probably ten who have seen a Greek marble in a museum, or if not a Greek marble, at least a Roman copy, or if not a Roman copy, at least a photograph.
We all remember cultures by their arts; I learned this from asking the people down the hall, who, coincidentally, tend to work in the arts. The other guys are in the next building, so I didn't ask them. But I'm sure they feel that way too. And more people look at pictures of art than read philosophy. Yes, that's potent, if you don't stop to consider that the analogy is completely fatuous.
The arts present the whole uncensored human person--in emotional, physical, and intellectual being, and in single and collective form--as no other branch of human accomplishment does. In the arts we see both the nature of human predicaments--in Job, in Lear, in Isabel Archer--and the evolution of representation over long spans of time (as the taste for the Gothic replaces the taste for the Romanesque, as the composition of opera replaces the composition of plainchant). The arts bring into play historical and philosophical questions without implying the prevalence of a single system or of universal solutions.
Oh now I get it-- you're not talking about what really goes on in other disciplines, you're just making shit up and then decrying it for being lousy.
I wouldn't be so mad if she weren't a University Professor at Harvard, you know. Or it weren't grading time.
You do remember to read Busy Busy Busy, right?
More from the temperate people are pissed the fuck off department: Tim Burke has some thoughts on hindsight.
"Stop with the hindsight", says one writer. "Be patient," says another.
Oh, no, let's not stop with the hindsight. Not when so many remain so profoundly, dangerously, incomprehensibly unable to acknowledge that the hindsight shows many people of good faith and reasonable mien predicting what has come to pass in Iraq. Let's not be patient: after all, the people counseling patience now showed a remarkable lack of it before the war.
Hindsight is 20/20, but some of us had 20/20 foresight. You could have it, too—it would just take joining us in the difficult messiness of social and historical reality.
There's much more good stuff there.
Part of Tim's piece articulates something I was trying to suggest with my "Bush doesn't play by the rules" post: Bush acts as if reality, when inconvenient, can be ignored. It's not that he circumvents regulations (though he does do that, too), it's that, to take just one example, he thinks a country can be occupied and shepherded to democracy with only a fraction of the troops recommended by his military commanders.
You pop over to Slate, you figure you'll get some commentary, with a bit of yuppie-acceptable snark. You don't expect the editor to write a piece that goes like this.
The most obvious expression of Bush's choice of ignorance is that, at the age of 57, he knows nothing about policy or history.
A second, more damning aspect of Bush's mind-set is that he doesn't want to know anything in detail, however important.
Closely related to this aggressive ignorance is a third feature of Bush's mentality: laziness.
A fourth and final quality of Bush's mind is that it does not think.
As the president says, we misunderestimate him. He was not born stupid. He chose stupidity. Bush may look like a well-meaning dolt. On consideration, he's something far more dangerous: a dedicated fool.
Some folks have a glimmer of what just happened. Abu Ghraib isn't about Donald Rumsfeld, or George Bush, or even about Iraq and the Middle-East. Even people who resent the U.S. see it as a place free of the barbarity with which their own lives are afflicted. They might not like what the U.S. does to their countries, or they might find American rhetoric about democracy and freedom hypocritical, but they still believe: "Americans are different, and in America, it's better."
The invasion of Iraq and the deaths of the innocents there, for all the anger they provoked, did little to change that belief; just as My Lai, and the Central American death squads and torture rooms were soon enough forgotten. The simple fact is that there's no shame in killing, and few care about the nameless dead. And America's torture has always been done by foreign hands, reinforcing the impression that Americans are—even in their cruelty—different, and better.
I'm afraid that what just happened is that hope went out of the world. It's hard for Americans to understand—because, on the one hand, they take so much of the goodness of America for granted, and, on the other, because they're well-acquainted with its faults—just what power the idea of America has for the rest of the world.
This is the sort of cruelty—repellent, fascinating, strangely creative and utterly base—that evokes, not hatred or fear, but disdain for those who practice it. Keep in mind, as unlikely as this will sound to you, that there are many people in the Muslim world (and much of the rest of the world, I'd wager) who have never heard of blowjobs, and haven't imagined people putting penises in each other's mouths. The idea of a place that's free (and a bit titillating), now surrenders to its worst caricature: a licentious and decadent place, with no concern for people's souls.
I'm sure there's blame to be assigned, but there are more important things than blame, and though it might be too late, something extraordinary needs to be done. If ever leaders wanted to lead, this is the time. Set aside one day, close the schools, close the businesses, let people take to the streets in their millions so that the world can see that Abu Ghraib is not America. Let each immigrant carry a sign, each in his own language, letting the world know that Abu Ghraib does not represent their America. It may not be obvious for years, but the world will be a far darker place if we let the old, good America be eclipsed by scenes from a dungeon.
My apologies, it's been crazy at work and looks to stay that way for at least another day. Back soon, I hope...
WTF? Is it me or does Wonkette sound like a sorority girl?