Monday, September 26, 2005

Plus Ca Change: A Country Without a Soul

During Vietnam, some soldiers created necklaces of hacked-off human ears. During World War II, some soldiers brought home skulls, and ears, and bones as trophies.

During Gulf War II/Afghanistan, some American soldiers brutally beat prisoners entrusted to them--some broke bones, some beat the prisoners to death. Some appeared to delight in torturing and humiliating their prisoners. Many troops believed that their commanding officers supported the suspension of the Geneva Conventions during this conflict, and said they were under the impression their brutal treatment was just following orders.

There came a time when pictures from one jail, Abu Ghraib, were made public--pictures of the torture and mistreatment of prisoners at the hands of American guards. When these pictures were made public, it was the existence of the pictures--not the behaviors of the guards, grinning and pointing at the genitals of their prisoners--that excited concern from the Bush administration. "These pictures will make us look bad!" was their thinking--not "these behaviors are immoral."

There came a time when pictures from the battlefield became publicly known--pictures of mutilated Iraqi corpses with grinning, pointing American solidiers posed next to them, pictures of the genitals of wounded Iraqi women, pictures of charred corpses, pictures of hacked-off limbs, pictures American troops had brought to post on the internet at, trading sadistic death porn in exchange for sex porn, in a scandal known as "Do-It-Yourself Abu Ghraib."

There came a time when treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay was made public--tales of torture and mistreatment of prisoners by their American guards, and tales of sacrilegious treatment of the Koran, the prisoners' holy book. This concerned the Bush administration. Not the behavior--the discovery of the behavior. "These stories will make us look bad!" was their thinking--not "these behaviors are immoral."

There came a time when the existence of CDs showing the rape of children by American troops was made known, but their release to the public was prevented by the Bush administration. "These pictures will make us look bad!" was their thinking--not "these behaviors are immoral."

In the Bush administration, everything is weighed by its spin; will action A. provide us with more power, or less? Will we gain more profit, or less? Will we look better, or worse?

Nothing said about right vs. wrong.

Nothing about preferring good to evil.

With Bubble Boy and his black-heart neo-cons, the culture of chickenhawks, America is utterly empty of any moral leadership. What attracts their "moral" attention is evaluating the sexual practices of grown men and women, and protecting the so-called "human rights" of embryoes who cannot in any case survive on their own.

When it comes to the human rights records of their authoritarian oilist allies--sexual slavery, indentured servitude, women's rights count for absolutely nothing.

Something's missing.

Winston Churchill said, "A country without a conscience is a country without a soul, and a country without a soul is a country that cannot survive."

Is Winston speaking about us, boys and girls?

Compare and contrast with the following:

A Task.

by Czeslaw Milosz

In fear and trembling, I think I would fulfill my life

Only if I brought myself to make a public confession

Revealing a sham, my own and of my epoch:

We were permitted to shriek in the tongue of dwarfs and demons

But pure and generous words were forbidden

Under so stiff a penalty that whoever dared to pronounce one

Considered himself as a lost man.


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