Monday, February 28, 2005

Refresh Your Outrage

This extraordinary post by Jeanne d'Arc comes from her blog Body and Soul, the winner for Best Writing in the 2004 Koufax Awards. It refreshed the horrors of the Abu Ghraib scandal for me. Aside from being an excellent piece on the subject of torture and our tolerance for it, d'Arc's piece is a far better example of the value of blogging in my mind than any number of blogs nitpicking over the mainstream media's every utterance. It's the difference between the mob effect and Ms. d'Arc's clear expression of concern for humanity.
When it became clear that the "boys will be boys (and sometimes even girls will be boys)" spin had frozen mid-pirouette, the new story was introduced: Damn those idiots who make the rest of our brave men and women look bad. This is, I must admit, a definite improvement over the argument that torture is no big deal, but it's still immoral. The damage done at Abu Ghraib was done to Iraqi prisoners, to their friends and families, and to all Iraqis, who were sent a clear message about how our country treats their country. They are the ones who have endured, and will continue to endure, the pain. The "damage" to our military is secondary at most. After all the times we've seen the pictures, we still have a distorted view of who the victims are.

The most important thing to remember about the crucifixion of Jesus is not that it sullied the reputation of all the good Roman soldiers.
(Via Relentlessly Optimistic.)

"If America were Iraq, What would it be Like?" by Juan Cole won the Koufax award for best post and proves a must read also.
What would America look like if it were in Iraq's current situation? The population of the US is over 11 times that of Iraq, so a lot of statistics would have to be multiplied by that number.

Thus, violence killed 300 Iraqis last week, the equivalent proportionately of 3,300 Americans. What if 3,300 Americans had died in car bombings, grenade and rocket attacks, machine gun spray, and aerial bombardment in the last week? That is a number greater than the deaths on September 11, and if America were Iraq, it would be an ongoing, weekly or monthly toll.
Then there's this fascinating article about millionaire John Gilmore, who refuses to show ID when traveling within the United States. His point: the U.S. law which prevents you from doing so is a secret. That's right. You're not allowed to know about the law, which prevents you from traveling without an ID within the United States as a U.S. citizen. That regulation is described as "Sensitive Security Information."
"Are they just basically saying we just can't travel without identity papers? If that's true, then I'd rather see us go through a real debate that says we want to introduce required identity papers in our society rather than trying to legislate it through the back door through regulations that say there's not any other way to get around," Gilmore said. "Basically what they want is a show of obedience." ...

To some, Gilmore's argument is redolent of the conspiracy theories from the black helicopter crowd.

"That's the problem. How it sounds," Gilmore said. He waved his hands like some Cassandra: "They have all these secret laws! The UFOs are coming! They have guards at every airport!" Yes, he said, there is a certain odd flavor to the notion that someone shouldn't have to show ID to board a plane, but with magnetometers at the gates, guards with security wands, fortified cockpit doors and sky marshals abounding, Gilmore is asking just how much citizens are giving up when they hand their driver's licenses to a third party, in this case an airline, where it is put into a database they cannot see, to meet a law that, as it turns out, they are not allowed to read.
Interesting point, isn't it?

(Via Boing Boing.)

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