Dear Diana Moon. I know a lot about My Lai (I was leading demonstrations against the Vietnam war at the time). I even know who Hugh Thompson is. And in all my discussions of My Lai with my fellow protesters and at our events, I made it a point to bring up his story.
Why? Because it showed My Lai for what it was – a criminal act, rather than state policy. If it had been state policy, Hugh Thompson would have been court-marshaled, not Lt. Calley.
But enough about my experience with Vietnam; I’m not John Kerry.
Your conflation of My Lai – where American troops massacred helpless villagers – with the treatment of Iraqi prisoners is right up there with PETA’s conflation of Purdue Farms with the Holocaust.
It’s not that I’m offended at you personally; it’s that you represent with this argument a form of ‘argument by hyperbole’ that’s too common in modern discourse, and sadly, has completely captured the left today. ‘Bush=Hitler’ and commenter Jussi’s quote that: ‘The US Army,at the Abu Ghraib,acted like Gestapo.Like GPU.Like Saddam’s Mukhabarat.” No, they didn’t.
They acted damn badly – immorally, and certainly criminally. They deserve what they have coming to them, which is, I trust a long stretch of experience as an inmate, rather than a guard.
I’m obviously having trouble getting my point across, since this is the second time (the first was in regards to the release of the kids convicted of raping and beating Central Park Jogger). I’ll do a longer post on it, but let me promote a comment I made in the thread below as a starting place:
I must just see the world oddly.
Every day – hell, every hour – things much worse than what happened in Abu Ghraib happen here in Los Angeles. Prisoners are brutalized, police officer abuse their authority, women are raped, beaten or murdered, children are abused.
Now as far as I can tell, those – awful – things don’t define this city, any more than dog droppings define Paris.
They are an aspect of it; and the issue isn’t whether they happen – they have, are, and will – but whether they are central to the nature of our society (could we get along without them) and how much effort and success do we have in stopping them, and in catching and punishing those who do them.
One thing that I believe about the anti-Western Left is that they have, for whatever historic reason, chosen these elements of Western society as defining it.
I think they do so as a way of validating their rejection of it; and I think that they do so – as did Jussi in his comment above – in complete and total ignorance of history and of what truly brutal and amoral societies are like.
This isn’t a “well, our guards only killed 3 guys, and the NKVD killed 300, so we’re 100 times better” (although there’s an element of that which must be considered). It’s the simple fact that our guards who murder or torture run the risk of joining their charges in jail. That we have a process – which works more often than not – to discover, investigate, and resolve these issues. We don’t ‘accept’ that innocent kids went to jail for a rape they turned out not to have committed. We investigate it, fix it, and try to improve our systems so it doesn’t happen again.
That’s a damn good thing. That’s good news.
And after all this, I still believe that it is. I do need to do a better job of making my case, and it’s in the works.