As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Flushing Our Humanity Down the Toilet

There was a passing reference in this Newsweek article that mentions one of the prisoner abuses at Guantanamo Bay was to flush prisoner's copies of the Koran down the toilet.

Among the previously unreported cases, sources tell NEWSWEEK: interrogators, in an attempt to rattle suspects, flushed a Qur'an down a toilet and led a detainee around with a collar and dog leash.

The line was repeated on al Jazeera. The news reached the Muslim world.

Next thing you know, there are protests in practically every corner of the globe, including Afghanistan, where many have died in the protests. The Afghan President Hamid Karzai is visiting Europe while his country is in an uproar and unable to restore order. Indonesia, Pakistan, and other countries have held similar protests. All because somebody at Gitmo thought it was a good idea to attack prisoners at their weak points by desecrating their religion. Which is clearly beyond the pale, not only because no good can come of it (in terms of producing intelligence results) but because it can inflame exactly the kind of hatred we are trying to avoid among moderate Muslims. Once the die is cast in a clash of civilizations, it's not exactly easy to rewind the tape and start over. If you cast it in such stark terms, that we hate you for your religion and our mission is to destroy both you and it (which is precisely the message an incident like this sends), you are inexorably on the path to US v. Islam.

Don't you expect the rightie blogs (powerline, lgf) to go hard at "liberal media" Newsweek for writing the article and starting all the trouble? Of course they'll try to impugn the credibility and call the magazine to task for printing false stories, but the intent will be clear: they mean to censor what we're really doing at Gitmo and elsewhere, they mean to shield the public from this kind of insanity, they mean to make the real criminals not the perpetrators but THE ONES WHO LET PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT IT. It's the typical play for intimidation of a free and unfettered press.

Maybe if the US government policy wasn't to demean a religion shared by over a billion people globally, we wouldn't have these problems.