I have been suffering from hearing in C-Span people not condenning and/or defending the abuses of Iraqui prisonners because those people are the enemy, and, as an infamous congressman said, “they may even have American blood in their hands”. When we talk and act like that we are being just like the worst of them, because what we are saying is: whoever harms us -even if he may be innocent, as at least 70% of Abu Graib prissonners turned out to be- is entitled to any abuse, and that does not deprive us of our inherent goodness, however, when the enemy does something awfull to us, that shows their true nature. And clearly, some (we don’t know how many) soldiers and many of the population population believe that being born in Iraq make people already “the enemy”. Since the fact that many of the abused may be innocent but it does not bother us.
But, above all, there is a reason why the Geneva laws were written, and any law for that matter: to avoid barbarism and taking justice on our own hands, to avoid revenge, to avoid acting like terrorists and criminals… If we condone those actions, when we also have the power, we are not like the terrorists, we are worst.
And not to forget that there is a lot of violence and crime here, so speaking of our inherent goodness is just ridiculous.
Like Saint Exupery once wrote about France, we can not appropriate Spc. Pat Tillman and ignore the others that were sadistically abusing prisonners. We have been defeated all together. America is all of us, our saints and our devils included, and there is no point in assuming that there are things “unamerican” as if America has a santicty of its own.
José Martí, the Cuban hero in which statue a young American marine urinated many years ago, and that ignited a protest over the Island, said that for a man is easier to die with honor than to live with order. The issue of the unamericanness of this chapter with the abuse of prisoners in Iraq is very interesting because every time someone says that this is not what Americans stand for, or what America represents we are trying to put America outside of human nature, outside of the possibility of sin -to use religious language- or of disorder and criminality -. Our streets are full of crime, there have been many instances of violence against Muslims in this country after 9-11, there are so many problems like that, without even get into the civil rights issue, that I’m wondering why we keep talking of America as the perfection incarnated.