I didn’t think we needed to spend much time on this. But it listening to everything from radio talkshows to misguided senators, it’s clear that we need to review.
Al Qaeda and other terrorists are really, really bad. Many of them find themselves part of entire segments of dysfunctional societies that have long suffered from a communal sociopathology. As a group, they’re crazy. And they’re fanatics. And they’re murderers. At this point, we should not be shocked regardless of the new line of human decency that has been crossed by the actions of madmen.
But we’re not terrorists. That’s important to note.
By examining the abuses at Abu Ghraib, no one is arguing that the American military has somehow behaved more poorly than terrorists or than Saddam’s henchmen. The opinion being voiced that the beheading of an American hostage is evidence that we are less to blame for the Iraqi prison abuses is flawed intellectually (which we have come to expect) and morally.
We have different standards for our own behavior regardless of the savagery of those with whom we do battle. That’s part of what we’re fighting for. Making the point that our behavior is superior to that of terrorists is an example of some very bad goalsetting.
What’s the logic being employed? Jeffrey Dahmer ate his victims. But I just nibble on mine.
And let’s get this part right as well: Many Arabs are embarrassed by the actions taken in that video precisely because it makes much of the world view their entire culture as barbaric.
Looking for an appropriate reaction to what we’ve seen and heard on the news in the last couple of days? Anger works. Sadness makes sense. Determination is a must. But the sense of cultural moral superiority should’ve been present a long time ago. And that sense is precisely why, when it comes to our own behavior, we need to be more vigilant, not less so.
Because if the last several years have taught us nothing else, at least we are now all well aware that when that vigilance is absent, things get awfully ugly.