Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Iron Maiden Can Teach Us a Lot About the Strib's Editorial Writers

Still Life is one of the better songs on Iron Maiden's watershed album "Piece of Mind". Depending on whom you talk to, the song is based on a short story by some author named Ramsey Campbell, Tolkien's The Two Towers, or a story from Greek mythology (though I may be getting it confused with the story of Narcissus).

In any event, the song tells a story about a guy who sees faces in a pond. They look happy and content. He goes insane and believes that life would be better on their side of the pool, so he convinces his wife to come with him to the bottom of the pool.

They drown.

Today, the Strib sees the face at the bottom of the pool, and it is Dick Durbin:

When you read some of the graphic descriptions of what has occurred here -- I almost hesitate to put them in the record, and yet they have to be added to this debate. Let me read to you what one FBI agent saw. And I quote from his report: "On a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water. Most times they urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been left there for 18-24 hours or more. On one occasion, the air conditioning had been turned down so far and the temperature was so cold in the room, that the barefooted detainee was shaking with cold. ... On another occasion, the [air conditioner] had been turned off, making the temperature in the unventilated room well over 100 degrees. The detainee was almost unconscious on the floor, with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been literally pulling his hair out throughout the night. On another occasion, not only was the temperature unbearably hot, but extremely loud rap music was being played in the room, and had been since the day before, with the detainee chained hand and foot in the fetal position on the tile floor."

If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others -- that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners.

And like our protagonist in the above noted heavy metal epic, the Strib stares intently at the face in the bottom of the pool, finds the visages agreeable in its quickly warping world view, and makes the snap decision to dive right in, in a fit of pique:

The heat got so bad that, late in the week, Durbin apologized if his remarks had been "misunderstood." They weren't, and Durbin should not have apologized.

Instead, the senator should have hit back hard, just as the Amnesty International did when its comparison of Guantanamo to the Soviet gulag was attacked. By caving in, Durbin did just what the orchestrated right-wing smear effort required to succeed: It made him the story rather than focusing further attention on the outrageous violations of international law and human rights being perpetrated in Guantanamo and elsewhere in the name of the American people.

Let's never mind for the moment that the "apology" was nothing more than a covert insult ("Silly wingnuts! You misunderstood me. See, I'm smart and you are dumb!"). Let's never mind that what these dumbshits consider "torture" are, in the worst cases, acts by individuals going outside the scope of protocol and not policy handed down from the commander in chief (though they so dearly want it to be), and in other cases the level of suffering doesn't even approach that of sitting through a Robert Altman movie.

The real disgrace of Durbin's comments was the propaganda ammo he gave to the enemy based on a hyperbole so exaggerated that one may mistake it for a parody written on this blog. But it wasn't. He meant it.

Pol Pot didn't bother building prisons. He just summarily killed the inconvenient. Hitler and Stalin killed the innocent. In great big numbers - not the 500 held in Gitmo. I don't think Buchenwold had air conditioning.

Oh, and if turning the air conditioning up too high is "torture", then Mrs. Foot ought to be brought in front of the World Court immediately.

Durbin's completely out of touch with reality.

And the Strib wants to be right there with him.

It's not surprising. When someone with power and a high profile says something that you've been thinking for a long time, it inspires deafening applause from the echo chamber lauding the great truth-teller, even though the assertion is 100% bullshit. You see it everywhere. Even on the right (Michael Savage's name immediately pops to mind).

Hey! That guy really makes sense! I'm so blinded to reality by my apoplectic hatred of this administration, I don't care if what he's saying is or is not apt. I want it to be, and that's all that matters. I am so taken with this beacon of truth that I think I'll jump right in there with him.



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