Friday, March 30, 2007

Juxtaposition Friday

...and Editing-For-Clarity Saturday.

Interesting drive home today. During my inexcusably long commute, I caught a couple of pieces on the radio about the latest lesser evil of the Military Commisions Act. I fear the death of irony as much as anything.

From NPR:

Hicks, who had complained of abuse in U.S. custody in Afghanistan and at Guantanamo, agrees as part of the deal that he has "never been illegally treated by a person or persons while in the custody of the U.S. government" ...Hicks' lawyers said their client was severely depressed and anxious to find a way to leave Guantanamo, where he lives by himself in a small, maximum-security cell. Observers...have suggested he pleaded guilty only to escape the isolated military prison.
Within five minutes of the first segment, and with no intentional irony, NPR reported this:
[A]nother statement from one of the captured Royal Marines was broadcast on Iranian TV. Royal Marine Nathan Summerson apologized for entering Iranian waters "without permission." British Prime Minister Tony Blair promptly denounced the treatment of the prisoners, who were captured by Iranian forces in the northern Persian Gulf last Friday.
A while back, our buddy IOZ pointed out that the most redeeming thing about the Nazis was their fashion sense. I get that. In a battle to teh bottom of the international relations morality scale, we're left with what exactly is better about America, and at least as far as bellicosity is concerned, it's a difference of degree and not kind. We dress our own evil up in nicer clothes. We don't shout "death to Iran" at football games (yet). You can get better food. We all have better toys. We drink. I personally think our national mythology is the superior one, but then I'm not religious...

There are real differences, of course, between the U.S. and Iran. Women are doing OK here, and you can bet I wouldn't be posting anything like this in the Islamic Republic. The two reports I mentioned, however, presented almost back-to-back, are in many ways equivalent in my eyes: forced confessions, detention, cultural bias as judgement. We're working real hard on making a matter of who has the more appealing uniforms.

Well, I hope this doesn't mean (more) war in any case. I'm not too optimistic.



LentenStuffe said...

"We let our evil slip by with more dignity ..."

You gotta be kidding! The rest isn't much better. What's your 'national mythology'? Fuck the other guy ... with dignity?

Keifus said...

Sorry John, I don't think I nailed my point very well. The two reports I mentioned, presented almost back-to-back, are in many ways equivalent in my eyes: forced confessions, detention, cultural bias as judgement.

For what it's worth, I do think there is moral space between the U.S. and Iran on important levels. But we're working real hard on making a matter of who has the more appealing uniforms. (Dignity wasn't the right word.)

LentenStuffe said...

The US has an insatiable appetite for war, and for enemies to justify waging them. If Korea-Vietnam-Chile-Russia-Grenada-El Salvador-Nicaragua-Panama-Timor-Iraq-Iran-China--- didn't exist to "hate America for her freedoms", then they'd have been invented. Nothing surer.

The US is caught in a vicious cycle of what Vidal called 'Perennial War for Perennial Peace'. The real issue, of course, is feeding that voracious military-industrial complex. $412 billion has been spent in Iraq already to graft freedom/democracy onto their ingrate hides. There's your damn national mythology, with all the dignity to beat the band.

Keifus said...

And's still a pretty good place to live, considering. By national mythology, I mean individual liberties, common law, that sort of shit. I don't pretend that the actual story isn't soaked in blood. The fact that it is does not weigh well on my conscience.

The flaw--the evil, dangerous flaw--is thinking that this expeditious military spending and killing is somehow correlated in a positive way with the parts of society I value. I agree with you there. Please don't think I subscribe to that. It does the opposite, most of the time.

LentenStuffe said...

I don't know that anybody really enjoys the luxury of being fully able to separate the positive from the negative parts of the society in which they live. It would be a nice delusion blanket to wrap ourselves in if it cosily inured us from whatever distressed us ...

It might especially strike us as egregious if one of the self-appointed cerberus-like gatekeepers of public security turned on us and exhorted thus, 'Hey, you can't just sit there on your ass and pretend like you don't care or don't see what's going on around you: if you like your freedoms then do something about defending them,' etc. You like your 'good place to live', your 'national mythology', then how far are you prepared to go to defend them yadayada?

But, I agree with you that the US is a mighty fine place to live