Sunday, May 09, 2004

Folly and evil

Sometimes evil is very intelligent, like Ted Bundy, very crafty, like the perpetrators of 9/11. Sometimes it is incredibly stupid, like the guards who mistreated the Iraqi prisoners. Or maybe it was their folly -- their thick-headedness, their arrogance -- that led them into evil. Claiming they were not trained on the Geneva Convention is no excuse for a lack of human decency.

Whose folly was it to put females in charge of male Iraqi prisoners to start with? I am every bit a feminist, but we have to be smart about conducting ourselves with people of other cultures.

In the Arab/Muslim world, having female guards boss these prisoners around is a kind of insult vastly worse than if it were men, and smirking women mistreating naked captives is a thousand times worse to them than if it were men. And it would still be unforgivable to the Iraqis if it were men.

What was the command over there thinking?

The photos of those American women humiliating their prisoners is going to haunt not just the Iraqi prisoners for years to come, but our country. Those American soldiers could not have done a better job of recruiting for Al Qaeda if they'd tried.

9/11, the terrorism at World Trade Center, was fresh in my mind because I've recently talked to someone who was there, heard the awful story of rescue attempts and bodies falling from buildings, and looked again at photos of that devastation. We were already in for more, but now we are in for much more, and worse, because of what these soldiers did.

The face of evil is sometimes truly stupid.

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