Democrats & Liberals Archives

Living With Guilt

Every one of us has probably had a moment or two in life where we live with guilt that is painful. “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” is a beautiful phrase, trapping the self righteous along with the rest of us in inaction, when merciless murder is the action contemplated. The self righteous are a part of every picture like the ones that we see coming from Iraq today, the self righteous, the forcefully indignant, those without mercy or compassion. Cruelty is as basic an instinct in humanity as it is in any predatory species

Most predators live in a world of ferocity and their cruelty is part of their survival. Humanity alone, of all the species on our planet understands the pitiless cruelty that abuse of power over another of our kind can become. Inquisitions and torture chambers have existed in most periods in human history. Those who feel no guilt when they torture other human beings do exist. They can teach others to do as they so willingly do, sadism is a disease that fits only a few people in any population, but it is contagious.

Nearly every human soul has felt the power that control over another human being can give you. Parents all have that power but few of them abuse it in any way that we could call sadistic. Those who care for the ill and the elderly have it, and there we have evolved a culture of caregivers that reduces the abuses to a minimum. Only in our prisons do we fail to meet standards that keep our society among the ranks of the most civilized nations on earth. The rape that is epidemic in our prisons is only one symptom of the principle that prisoners are not worthy of our tenderness and respect as human beings. Abuse of prisoners as a feature of our society is not talked about but it does exist. Prisoners often have their human and civil rights removed at the door of our prisons and now that embarrassing fact is known to the outside world.

If anyone thinks that the abuses in Iraq are any greater than those in some prisons in the USA there is a large body of literature about the treatment of prisoners in the USA that will surprise you. In wartime the need for control of guards and those in power over prisoners is even more necessary than in peacetime incarceration. Power over others is a corrupting influence in people’s lives. It can turn mild people into brutes and brutes into animals. Most of us do not really easily succumb to such temptation unless we are in a social group that encourages such behavior. Prisoners are such a group in many prisons in the USA and guards have in some cases become a like group.

In looking at the photos released to the press one thing struck me, our troops did not look like they were enjoying their abuses, they looked like they were acting out a role. If their behavior is role playing it is part of a cultural support system among guards and interrogators. It existed in order to justify and remove guilt from the abhorrent behaviors uncovered in Iraq. What an incredible victory for the terrorists and a failure of leadership and oversight in our military and civilian administrative branch of government this has been. Now I am hearing the word “hazing” used by the spinmeisters, as if this was all a little joke by one set of frat boys played on another. Most of us do not find any of this in the least bit amusing.

If fraternities of our young people are acting out violence and abuse on this scale on one another it would explain something about the prisoners dilemma here in the USA and in Iraq. If we take hazing to such extremes then what is taught in our universities is human abuse on a scale unprecedented in a civilized society. I prefer to believe that is not true but that defense of these actions is telling, and what it tells us about ourselves is not pretty. The degeneration of treatment of those vulnerable into torture and sexual abuse is a growing problem. It is supported by the new outbreak of “Social Darwinism” in our nation. It is particularly strange that some of the same people who fight against the theory of evolution support the Social Darwinist cause. Contradictions are rife in every human society on earth but that is one of the stranger ones.

It is clear that Rumsfield has no intention of leaving office any time soon but he is one of the problems. His inability to see the real Iraq before and during the war is one of the real problems we are having there. He is not a sadistic man, but he does believe that simple set of ideas that support the Darwinian Social construct. The main idea is that some are worthy of treatment as human beings and others have forfeited their rights by what they have done or failed to do in life. The self serving idea that people are in jail because they have done something that makes them less human than the rest of us is a corollary of that premise.

I am not calling for Rumsfield’s resignation because he is guilty of the war crimes that happened on his watch in Iraq. I am calling for it because he is one of the people who created the social dynamic among our troops that dehumanized our enemy. It obviously dehumanized them enough for our troops to act out those inhumane roles caught on film. He is dangerous to our nation not just because of his ongoing ignorance of the real world in Iraq, but because he truly believes in the idea that “survival of the fittest’ is the law that should rule the human world. He does have to go, and firing him would be good for w, at this point in the campaign. That point is made in case you Social Darwinists need justification that you can understand. God bless you all and keep you safe in a world harsh enough that Social Darwinism is an unnecessary evil.
©Henri Reynard/GoldenBrush Interactive

Posted by Henri Reynard at May 10, 2004 7:30 PM