Saturday, June 05, 2004

humiliating torture is the new black

While the American death machine runs around trying to pin the blame for Abu Ghraib on Someone Else and the majority of American citizens sit around not being outraged about what they've seen in the photos, much of the rest of the world knows the score all too well. Gerry Adams, president of Sinn Féin, has seen much of this sort of behavior before - on the side of the abused.

News of the ill-treatment of prisoners in Iraq created no great surprise in republican Ireland. We have seen and heard it all before. Some of us have even survived that type of treatment. Suggestions that the brutality in Iraq was meted out by a few miscreants aren't even seriously entertained here. We have seen and heard all that before as well. But our experience is that, while individuals may bring a particular impact to their work, they do so within interrogative practices authorised by their superiors.

There is tendency for people to think up justifications for their actions so they don't have to feel bad about committing them. In the US we've made this an art form. No act committed for the nominal cause of freedom and democracy, however far from those ideals it may stray (even to the point of direct opposition), can be thought of as evil, so the papers talk around the sides of the issues and we rewrite even those falsities within minutes, always conveniently finding ourselves guiltless in the final analysis.

I suspect that this won't change until the horrible things are being done more to us than by us. I'd have thought that events of the past few years would have been something of a wakeup call for this country, but in this I was terrible naive. I see my country just begging for tragedy, making new enemies on every front. The future's so bright, it's probably fucking nuclear.