Wednesday, November 24, 2004

liberty, leaking from the ears

During the battle for Fallujah, an Iraqi journalist named Abdul-Qader Saadi stayed behind in order to report events from the war in his home town. I can't even begin to tell you his story. After the initial fighting, Saadi turned himself over to American and Iraqi forces during the offensive. Then, even though he was a civilian and a journalist, he was treated like a something less than human. In the common vernacular: he was shat upon. Read this. Read his story. Please.

There is only one way for American soldiers (or any soldiers for that matter) to function physically and mentally during a war in which they are taking human life -- and that is to view the enemy as something less than human. If you've seen films like Apocalypse Now or Full Metal Jacket you'll understand what I'm talking about (if you've lived those stories, you'll know more than I could ever imagine). It's no wonder Abdul-Qader Saadi was treated like a wild animal; in the minds of these soldiers, he was one.

At the same time in Cuba, some 550 prisoners in the Bush Administration's "war on terror" are still being held without the legal protection of an attorney present during their military trials. Hundreds still have absolutely no knowledge why the U.S. government has detained them for over three years now. Those who have faced the tribunal are only read unclassified portions of the charges brought against them.

Okay, I know we're at war. And I know that some, maybe most, of these men are terrorists, but we are beginning to apply a very utilitarian approach to this "war on terror." The safety of the many has tended to come at the cost of the rights of the few (and by few, I mean Muslims). Our country was founded on a belief that a person's liberty was something that could never be taken away. It could be limited in certain ways, but there was never a situation that demanded he gave up everything for the "greater good." This is the reason we rid ourselves of the military draft. This is the reason for so much popular opposition to affirmative action. This is the reason America has been so staunchly in favor of private property and a free market. Socialism has the potential to be a choice made by the American public, but according to our constitution, it can never be forced upon us in order to bring the maximum happiness to the greatest number of people. If these men were guilty of something, things might be different. But they've been held for over 36 months without even being charged! How can they argue their cases when they don't even know the charges leveled against them?

You're right, they can't.

Gauntanamo Bay, our own private Siberian concentration camp, spits in the face of natural law and the essential worth of the human being. Of all the things to take away from Stalin's Soviet Russia, we pick this? What's happening? What's going on? This is America?

Wait, I fucking mean it, this is America?

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