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I just don’t understand it anymore.

This afternoon, while quickly reading through a forum for English speaking ex-pats, someone made mention of a new set of pictures of prisoners being abused at the hands of the military in Iraq.

As I went through the responses, which all seemed to border on utter disgust at the way people were being treated, there were two that I just can’t process. In the first post, someone said “Hey, it’s not as bad as they treat the American POWs”. Another mentioned that they were “getting a taste of their own medicine”.

What saddens me is that Americans don’t strive to be great any more, just slightly better in comparison.

When did this happen?

When I was a child, we were taught to be the best. When I was in 8th grade and was lucky enough to participate in a school trip to London, we were told that we needed to be on our BEST behavior because we might be someone’s first contact with an American and we need to make sure that we set the right example as representatives of our country.

But now, look at us. We’re abusing and torturing people just because we can and out of some screwed up sense of retribution. Even worse, we justify horrible actions by saying that they weren’t as bad as what our people had received.

Where the hell is the honor in this? Where is the excellence? Where is the teacher going to all of these soldiers before they leave reminding them to be on their best behavior?

There are certain words that are binary and not able to be modified. True and False are the obvious ones – you cannot be more true or more false. It is a condition that you have – all things that are true are true – none are more or less true than the others.

In this vein, Right and Wrong are also words that cannot be modified. Either things are Right or Wrong – and things that are wrong are wrong. No justification or modification.

Iraqis beheading civilian truck drivers: Wrong.
Suicide Bombers killing innocents: Wrong.

Torture and Abuse of Prisoners by American and British Soldiers: Also Wrong.

You can’t say that abusing someone in your custody is less wrong than killing an innocent driver. Wrong is wrong. There are no levels or grades.

What do we teach the next generation before they take their first trip overseas?

** afterthought **

Janet brought up a point – lots of people argue around the idea that there are things that are conditionally “less wrong” – it could be “less wrong” to kill someone in self defence for example. Personally, I think that in cases that this, the decision was right – it was the right thing to do at that time.

But when is pretending to jack-off on a tied up prisoner, beating someone to a pulp while they are handcuffed to a table, or pretending to execute them just to make yourself feel better, avenge a hurt or killed comrade, or just get a laugh at someone else’s expense for the sheer hell of it EVER right?

America is on a slippery slope, and we are starting to judge things in the micro-scale instead of the global scale. This micro-scale allows someone to say that since beating a person in chains within an inch of his life is not as cruel as beheading an innocent person on video tape, that it is ok. That plays to the lowest denomenator: there will always be something worse, something crueler, something more terrifyingly horrible that we can compare anything against. But this scale serves to do nothing other than set the bar lower regarding what is tolerable in a normal society.

We need to return to looking at things on the global scale. It isn’t about if one thing is worse than another when both of these things are clearly wrong. It isn’t an acceptable justification, and should not be an acceptable justification to ANYONE to say that it’s ok for a soldier of a civilized society to remove an individual of his human rights just because that person is of the same race of the people he/she is fighting.

My opinion: zero tolerance.

Sorry, I don’t care the reason. Abuse a prisoner, 20 years in hard labor. You say your commander made you do it? I say that the Nuremburg trials proved that following orders is not a valid excuse.

It’s time for Americans to become the leaders in the hearts and the minds of the world again. It’s time to be better. It’s time to be great.

Posted in General Ramblings.

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