Thursday, June 22, 2006

A little torture down at The Corner

I try to read The Corner. I really do. I want their perspective on some of the big issues of the day because I think it important to hear all sides of an argument, distill them in my own mind, and then make a rational judgment about where I stand. But I have to say that their vacuous approach to the torture debate, not to mention their glib tone, is infuriating. The many straw men in their arguments could field a few of the new brigades we need in Iraq, and their false dichotomies define reductio ad absurdum. Here's James Robbins:

So why is it that My Lai has become a byword for brutality while Hue is a footnote? Why will Menchaca and Tucker be forgotten while incidents like those under investigation — or the grotesque theater of Abu Ghraib — will persist, fester, be written about, analyzed, become vehicles for critiques of U.S. policy, the military, or the whole of American culture?

Why? WHY!? Because My Lai was a rarity that repulsed the nation, that's why. And if Haditha proves true, then we again feel our principles under assault, as well we should. As Americans, we expect better, and when some of our soldiers fall below our standards, it becomes a major story. The massacre in Hue by Viet Cong of their own citizens? Ho hum, like we should expect something else from them? Or barbarity from the thugs in Iraq? The essential question here completely eludes Robbins and seemingly the other Cornerites. We're not equating our soldiers with their thugs or our actions with theirs; we're outraged that there was any incident at all for us to be ashamed of. And if, but hopefully not when, these stories of alleged U.S. atrocities become commonplace and the press treats them "fairly" according to the standards sought by the Cornerites, then we have turned our righteous outrage into the banal rationalizations that are the root of all evil. We will have become them, so there won't be any story at all.