Friday, May 07, 2004

Torture, and the Human Psyche
One Man told he has control over another.. and the results of such a circumstance.

This was not just a few bad apples.. this was a bunch of normal good apples thrown in a bad, nasty barrel. I am paraphrasing from a recent Times article by John Schwartz, but I can't find it online, or I would link to it.

Okay, back to the point: Six hundred guards for seven THOUSAND prisoners, and this kind of behavior is almost inevitable.

There was a study done in 1971 showing that when a group of people are given a "prison" full of prisoners and not given any guidance, they do exactly the kind of torture you heard about. Humiliating people, forcing them to strip naked and simulate sex acts, even putting bags over their heads.

Of course there is the issue of lack of responsibility. If you are told to be a prison guard, and told to give people a hard time, well then if you do something terrible and stupid, its not your fault. Look at the Milgram study that was done over forty years ago. People thinking they were giving others electric shocks because they were told to do so by men in white coats. While they heard the tortured cries of the actors in the next room, they continued to push the buttons, and surprising number pushing the "lethal dose" button-- because none of the men "in charge" stopped them.

A woman led by a leash, and rode upon like a donkey.. Male guards having sex with female prisoners.. the digusting behavior will continue to be exposed to the US people, and it will not be limited to a dozen people, and one prison. There are too few people over there, poorly supported by a system that only functions because of the men and women of the armed forces who are trying very hard in a bad situation.

Is this a reason to pull out entirely? I say no. I say that we can't pull out yet. I'm not going to go into my views on that, but basically, now is the WORST time to leave, on such a bad, bad note.


On another note: Bush appologizes to a King, but not to his own people, nor to Iraqis? The man's poll points are going down again...*silent smile*

Thursday, May 06, 2004

On Looking Elsewhere

For the last several months, I decided that the domestic policy news and the foreign policy news were too depressing to read, so I stopped reading them. I could do nothing about the news, I rationalized, except wait until November and vote. I closed my eyes, closed my ears, and wandered back to the Middle Ages.

I stayed there until the day (and we know from Beowulf that "until the day" is a deeply ominous phrase) when the Abu Ghraib stories slipped into my consciousness. First, there were the headlines on which I didn't bother to click; then a few capsule summaries, grimmer and grimmer. Finally I found myself skimming the New Yorker report. Even a cursory reading was too much. I was shocked, horrified, nauseated -- everyone else in the blogosphere has described this reaction already.

What good does knowledge do? I still have no more power over the fate of the world than I did two weeks ago. I used to think that once the USA had attacked Iraq, we might as well stay there until we fixed things; we seem rather to have created a royal disaster. Now I can say that I believe America should get out of Iraq posthaste (do not pass go and certainly don't collect the two hundred dollars!) but no protest in my famously left-wing college town will change the politics of the current administration. I can donate money to the Kerry campaign, but there's no guarantee he'd withdraw the troops either. I certainly can't provide any useful help to the traumatized prisoners on the other side of the planet.

Here I am, a sheltered academic, well-fed, decently dressed, living a life completely of my choosing. Trading spaces with the victims of the U.S. military would be both impossible and useless. Survivor's guilt is an old, old story. What can I do with my rage? Nothing at all. It might almost be better to have remained oblivious. Then again, perhaps not.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Back to political ranting.. Rumsfeld said today that the news of the prison abuse had been released on January 16th, and it's not his fault no one saw it.. well if we look at our calendars, we can see that the 16th is a Friday.. the day no one reads the newspaper, and the day all the news to be shoved under the rug gets released.

Oh yeah, they really put an effort into getting the word out.

My future is finally a little more certain. Yesterday I found out that I did indeed get into my school of choice. I start my masters program in the fall. I will become a librarian. :)