Monday, June 20, 2005
Mark Steyn (and others) on Guantanamo
Mark Steyn has been covering Sen. Dick Durbin's outrageous comments (and the responses thereto) with his usual flair:
By now, one or two readers may be frothing indignantly, “That’s no funny! Bush’s torture camp at Guantanamo is the gulag of our time, if not of all time.” But that’s the point. The world divides into those who feel the atrocities at Gitmo “must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime — Pol Pot or others” (in the widely quoted words of Senator Dick Durbin), and the rest of us, for whom the more we hear the specifics of the “atrocities” the funnier they are.Indeed. Did the Nazis permit their victims to gain weight in captivity? (Quite the opposite.) Did the Soviets hand out free Holy Books to their religious inmates? (On the contrary, it was often posession of Bibles and such that led to incarceration in the first place.) Did Pol Pot serve his victims Orange-Glazed Chicken on rice pilaf? (I highly doubt it.)
Mr. Steyn goes on:
For example, camp guards are under instructions to handle copies of the Koran only when wearing gloves. The reason for this is that the detainees regard infidels as “unclean”. Fair enough, each to his own. But it’s one thing for the Islamists to think infidels are unclean, quite another for the infidels to agree with them. Far from being tortured, the prisoners are being handled literally with kid gloves (or simulated kid-effect gloves). The US military hand each jihadi his complimentary copy of the Koran as delicately as white-gloved butlers bringing His Lordship The Times of London. When I bought a Koran to bone up on Islam a couple of days after 9/11, I didn’t wear gloves to the bookstore. If that’s “disrespectful” to Muslims, tough. You should have thought about that before you allowed your holy book to become the central motivation for global jihad.Check out this as well, in which Steyn revisits the whole "how dare anyone question my patriotism!" canard... and responds "why?" (Certainly, nobody's patriotism should be doubted without damn good reason. But there's no reason that the topic should be taboo forever. Should we wipe "treason" off the books as well? Perhaps we should, if nobody's going to be accused of it anyway.)
But if handing a propaganda goldmine to al-Jazeera -- thereby endangering the lives of servicemen and servicewomen everywhere -- doesn't count as treason, then perhaps the meaning of the word has changed when I wasn't looking.
(I hasten to add that, if the Senator truly has a problem with American conduct in this war, he can do something about it -- and he doesn't have to do it publicly to get results. I have no doubt that, as one of only 100 Americans in the U.S. Senate, he can get an audience with the President any time he wants it badly enough. As a member of the Judiciary Committee, he has the clout to speak to many decision-makers behind the scenes, and influence the way things are going -- or to be shown the error of his ways, as the case may be. But to trumpet such allegations on C-SPAN and public talk radio, as he's been doing, is grandstanding for the sake of grandstanding... and given what he's saying, it's despicable.)
Please see also Hugh Hewitt's excellent summation of what Sen. Durbin has said thus far. Read in context, it becomes clear that the Senator has truly gone off the deep end -- or, as Steyn puts it, he is now the "terrorists' rights" Senator.
A lot now depends on how Republicans react to this treasonous slander -- and, even more importantly, on how Democrats respond. For if Democrats won't reign in their own, then it falls upon the U.S. legislature, as a body, to do it for them.
UPDATE: See also this, by James Lileks:
And why do I keep talking about this? Because they do. As the Durban flap demonstrates: It just never ends. And it won’t. There’s too much political hay to be made undercutting the war, and the consequences be damned.That's what I'm afraid of, actually -- if such rank public irresponsibility does not have a price, then it will become a standard tactic. Even if Durbin et al come to their senses, others will quickly pick up the line -- for the cost-free advantages it gives -- and denounce Durbin's new-found sanity to establish their own bona fides.
The only solution I see is to stop this nonsense in its tracks... if we have the guts to do so. Do we?
John at Powerline has called Durbin's office, and asked that Durbin resign from the U.S. Senate. My hat's off to the Hindrocket; I think his idea is an excellent one.
UPDATE II: This is the sort of sentiment I'm talking about:
"I call on those who question the motives of the president and his national security advisors to join with the rest of America in presenting a united front to our enemies abroad."Amazing, isn't it, what a difference a few years (and a change of the party in power) can make? (Follow the link; Durbin was even talking about Iraq.)
-- Sen. Dick Durbin, December 17, 1998, defending then-President Clinton
RealClearPolitics has some good stuff to say about this too:
The problem is that Democrats want to conduct a debate about torture without defining exactly what torture is.Since Durbin quoted something out of context -- and then put the image in his listener's heads that it might have come from Pol Pot, or Stalin, or Hitler -- yes, of course it sounds worse than it might otherwise. But you could easily do the same with nearly anything. Try this:
Then he gripped me firmly, ignoring my protestations, and commenced drilling into my bones. Tears spilled down my face as I fought back a scream. But he would not stop until he got what he was looking for.That's a scene from a torture chamber in the dark days of the mid-twentieth century, isn't it?... No, it's a visit to my dentist; I needed to get a cavity filled. (On that particular occasion, he didn't use enough anaesthetic. I'm thinking of suing him under the Geneva Conventions.)