Blue Crack Addict
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: A far distance down.
Local Time: 03:18 PM
more of the article
No, the true culprit was CBS.
"Of course, CBS had every right to do what it did," Goldberg wrote, discussing the airing of the photographs of the brutality. "But that's irrelevant. Nobody's suggesting the government should have stopped them. I'm suggesting that CBS should have stopped itself. Now we'll all have to live with the consequences—and some of us will die from them."
In Goldberg Land, "when shocking images might stir Americans to favor war"—such as those depicting people jumping from the Twin Towers during the 9/11 attacks and those showing the charred bodies of American civilian contractors in Iraq—"the Serious Journalists show great restraint." But, Goldberg claims, "when those shocking images have the opposite effect, the Ted Koppels let it fly."
I don't know about you, but I recall seeing the images of the people jumping from the windows of the Twin Towers—on television and certainly in newspapers—over and over again, until the families of the victims finally complained to the media about insensitivity and sheer overkill. No one asked for the footage to be censored as a way of inhibiting war, which, in the case of Afghanistan, the vast majority of Americans (including just about every liberal media pundit) were in favor of, and still are to this day. As far as the destruction of the buildings goes, we've seen that from every angle and still do, in news programs and documentaries. And it was on the front page of the New York Times—the paper that right-wing conservatives view as the Bush-hating, antiwar organ—where I saw the photos of the burned bodies of the contractors a few weeks ago.
Put a hole in one of the conservatives' offensive theories about who's to blame for the brutality of the Iraqi prisoners, however, and they'll spin out yet another one. If it's not CBS and the rest of the "liberal media" that is at fault, then surely it must be Bill Clinton and the homosexuals, right? Last week, I actually heard right-wing radio chat while in a taxi, in which callers and the host agreed that we wouldn't have seen this kind of "homosexual" brutality against the prisoners "if Bill Clinton had not let homosexuals into the military." And if the torturers are not gay themselves, then surely they're a product of the "Clinton era" and its homo-loving policies, says James Taranto, the often idiotic moralizer at the Wall Street Journal's OpinionJournal. A link to Taranto's attempts to blame the barbaric soldiers' actions on the American academic left had me cackling with laughter soon after it came to me in my email box. Get this:
"[I]t also occurs to us that increasing the quality of military recruits would probably help avoid future Abu Ghraibs. One constructive step toward that end would be for elite universities to drop antimilitary policies, so that the military would have an easier time signing up the best and brightest young Americans. Many academic institutions have barred ROTC or military recruiters from campus for left-wing political reasons—first as a protest against the Vietnam War, and later over the Clinton-era 'don't ask, don't tell' law. Whatever the merits of these positions, it's time the academic left showed some patriotic responsibility and acknowledged that the defense of the country—which includes the defense of their own academic freedom—is more important than the issue du jour."
Could anybody make more of a stretch in attempting to demonize those he despises while deflecting criticism of his own? Well, there's always Ann Coulter. Via David Brock's terrific new MediaMatters.org web site—which is focused on all of the bile-spewers on the right —I found this quote from Coulter, speaking on Fox News and blaming the soldiers' brutality on women. "I think the other point that no one is making about the abuse photos is just the disproportionate number of women involved, including a girl general running the entire operation. I mean, this is a lesson, you know, one million and 47 on why women shouldn't be in the military. In addition to not being able to carry even a medium-sized backpack, women are too vicious."
Similarly, the antifeminist columnist Linda Chavez—George W. Bush's one-time Labor Secretary nominee, who withdrew when she was found to be paying an illegal immigrant housekeeper off the books—suggested that "the presence of women in the unit actually encouraged more misbehavior, especially of the sexual nature that the pictures reveal."
Another conservative finger-pointer seemed to get Rush Limbaugh all hot and sweaty during his week-long quest to downplay the images as nothing more than college fratboy games. Donna M. Hughes, on National Review online, asked, "Why are we shocked by these images from Abu Ghraib, but when the victims are women (or gay men) the images are called pornography or 'adult entertainment'?" Yes, she was attempting to explain and excuse the behavior—and give anti-porn crusader John Ashroft more grist for his twisted mill—by claiming that the reservists might have engaged in these acts of torture because they'd seen them played out in porn films. (Of course, according to that logic we should ban The Passion of the Christ, because if people played out the sadomasochistic scenes in that film, we'd be taking down bloody crosses from every street corner.)
That got Limbaugh thinking and making some lurid confessions: "If you look at these pictures, you cannot deny that there are elements of homoeroticism …I've seen things like this on American websites. You can find these if you have the passwords to these various porn sites, you can see things like this. And [Hughes'] point was maybe these kids—the soldiers, the guards, whoever, who are of a certain age group, who've grown up with access to this are simply acting out what they've seen on these websites or something, just for the fun of it, or maybe other reasons."
Another crackpot deflection regarding the brutality, to be sure. But now we also know what Limbaugh was doing on those oxycontin-dazed nights: fumbling for his passwords, looking for those homoerotic websites. Live and learn.