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...because America is committed to the equality and dignity of all people, there will be a full accounting for the cruel and disgraceful abuse of Iraqi detainees. The conduct that has come to light is an insult to the Iraqi people, and an affront to the most basic standards of morality and decency. One basic difference between democracies and dictatorships is that free countries confront such abuses openly and directly... (Emphasis added)- President George W. Bush - May 10, 2004
Repetition is the key to spin. If you repeat something long enough, it doesn't matter if it is true or not. A given percentage of the population will believe it to be true nonetheless. Of course, polls and politics feeds the need for spin, and sometimes, the need for spin gets totally ridiculous, and frankly, sad. Case in point...

The recent revelations of the human rights abuses committed by US soldiers and contractors at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq was, by all accounts, not only un-American, it was also a violation of the Geneva Convention. Yet, there are those who would actually attempt to spin it as something less:

From the May 4 Rush Limbaugh Show, titled "It's Not About Us; This Is War!":

CALLER: It was like a college fraternity prank that stacked up naked men --

LIMBAUGH: Exactly. Exactly my point! This is no different than what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation and we're going to ruin people's lives over it and we're going to hamper our military effort, and then we are going to really hammer them because they had a good time. You know, these people are being fired at every day. I'm talking about people having a good time, these people, you ever heard of emotional release? You of heard of need to blow some steam off?

Listen to the MP3 Audio Clip.

Limbaugh proffers a completely ridiculous excuse which never considers the fact that the abuse at Abu Ghraib, unlike a fraternity prank which, under most circumstances, is condoned by willing participants, was conducted against prisoners of war! Additionally, the Abu Ghraib abuse was not a prank, nor was it "letting off steam". It was systematic torture to intimidate the prisoner's and extract information from them. Limbaugh's comparison is not only erroneous, but it's egregious at best. Read and listen to more of Rush's desperate un-American spin here and here and here.

This atrociously obvious and blatantly amoral spin hasn't stopped the right-wing machine from grasping at such straws of perception and running with the scissors.

Oliver North on Fox Network's May 11 episode of Hannity & Colmes:

NORTH: The official response of the United States is to catch and punish the perpetrators of this heinous act [the murder of American civilian Nick Berg]. That's what we must do.

COLMES: And there certainly has been outrage. There's been outrage in this country. There's outrage globally. You don't feel there's enough outrage about this? I've been hearing outrage all day.

NORTH: Alan -- Alan, for 13 or 14 days now, all we have seen on the front pages of America's newspapers is a group of obviously twisted young people with leashes and weird sex acts, the kind of thing that you might find on any college campus nowadays, being perpetrated by people in uniform. (Emphasis added.)

There's more:
"Weekly Standard online editor Jonathan V. Last said on CNBC's Dennis Miller that he believed worse things happen in fraternity houses:

I hope these guys are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law ... but at the same time, let's not get too crazy and call them Nazi-like. ... Worse happens in frat houses across America ... bad pictures with some guys playing naked Twister. It's bad, but we don't want to get too crazy.

And, even more... Ben Stein on CBS:
The media plays up endlessly frat-boy mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison, and yes, some of it is genuinely bad.
And, yes, still more.

All of this is an effort to downplay the fact that intimidation torture in Iraq by US forces was (and probably still is in certain quarters) a part of the routine. It's all an attempt to make the war "clean" and "palatable" once again for sensitive American eyes. And, it works. Such spin slips into the mainstream perception, and before you know it, the intimidation torture of Abu Ghraib was fun and games, and it was done against vicious animals anyway, right?

Finally, it is important to note that all of this spin was done, of course, before the official investigation was completed, the "full accounting", and before the full extent of the abuse was known. For example, it is still under investigation whether two men who were beaten to death were victims of the American sanctioned torture at Abu Ghraib. Further proof that Limbaugh and his cronies have no interest in the truth or real American values, and are only interested in maintaining their links to power and money.

The important thing to remember is that if a nation betrays that which it claims to fight for, then we are no better than our enemies. You have become that which you claim to be fighting against.

(c/o Media Matters)

Originally posted at Jakeneck.

Originally posted to buzztwang on Thu May 27, 2004 at 05:03 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Oliver North? (none)
    I'm so glad you mentioned this perjurer.  As a retired military officer of the same rank as "Ollie", I find his presence outside Leavenworth Prison to be an insult to all military officers.  In my opinion he disgraced his uniform by using it to attain power and money.

    If you tell the truth you don't have to remember anything. Mark Twain

    by tomathawl on Thu May 27, 2004 at 05:16:22 PM PDT

  •  You're right (none)
    The right has the rhetoric advantage:
    repetition, as you said
    and short, digestible messages (sound bites).

    I don't know why the left doesn't do this more effectively.

    Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning? -- G. W. Bush

    by Unstable Isotope on Thu May 27, 2004 at 05:17:04 PM PDT

    •  On Message (none)
      Tolerance, diversity, and self-determination tend to be pretty important to those on the left, and perhaps the easiest way to achieve repetition of the same message from numerous sources is through tight control, especially if it includes punishing those who don't toe the line (and what I've read indicates that the Republicans are big on slapping those of their party who step out of line).

      Some issues really can't be accurately explored in 15 seconds or less, but many on the left hold the positions they do because they've looked at the complexities of a given issue, really learned what the situation and dynamics are...to explain our views requires explaining the issue, whereas an appeal to emotion can easily be packaged in a brief, slanted, distorted catchphrase.

  •  I've got to believe .. (none)
    ... that even wingnuts see past this crap. Well, maybe not wingnuts, but rational republicans.  I mean, even if you did consider it typical frat-boy stuff -- there's been a lot of publicity in the last decade or so about hazing in college frats and sports teams, and it's been cracked down upon big time.  I'm sure it's plenty of republican parents who are helping to crack down on it.

    So even if you did think it was "just" frat-boy hazing stuff, even that won't fly.

    •  I Really Hope You're Correct...But... (none)
      I'm really disheartened by the fact that almost half of those who voted in 2000 cast their ballots for Bush.  I thought to myself, "Surely people can see what an oaf and an idiot this man is.  Surely, given his absolutely horrible record in business, the questions about his Guard service (which in and of itself was a privileged rich kid pulling strings to get out of Vietnam...come on!), his obvious lack of qualifications, and his dubious personal history, this meathead is going to lose in a landslide."  Instead it was close enough that it went to the Star Chamber Supreme Court and got handed to the Dauphin.

      So I'm not sure how much faith I can place in "rational Republicans".

      •  I think ... (none)
        ... most people thought he was an oaf, but didn't think there was much difference between the two candidates policy-wise ... and didn't like Clinton's dalliances ... and voted for a republican, any republican ... not Bush per se.

        Obviously, we were all wrong and didn't realize how dangerous Bush would be... The only people still in his corner are wingnuts - and the people who have a hard time admitting they were suckered. It's not an easy thing to admit to yourself.

        •  Giving Someone an Out (none)
          ...and the people who have a hard time admitting they were suckered.  It's not an easy thing to admit to yourself.

          I think you're touching on a pretty big issue.  I suspect that most of us have encountered people to whom being "right" is so important that it causes some dysfunction.  I try to remain very conscious of this, and I've found that judicious use of words on my part, framing statements or questions in such a way that I offer someone a graceful "out", makes it much more likely that someone will change their stance.

          I think that if we can find a way to make people see that this administration is nothing at all like that which was promised in the campaign, that everything Bush has touched has turned to shit, and yet do it in such a way that those who voted for him and subsequently supported him don't have to feel like chumps, we're golden.

  •  Yes, (none)
    They deny it, but it's well known that the Republican Party sends out daily talking points to all their sycophantic tv commentators.  The only Conservative I know who resists joining in the parade is Bob Novak.

    Democrats are either not as well organized or the Democratic inclined commentators refuse to become talking sheep for the party.

    But, in this case I'm not sure it was effective.  People saw the pictures for themselves and could make their own judgement.  My hope is that the Dimbaughs of the world hurt themselves and their credibility by trying to minimize the situation.

  •  come on public (none)
    you only have to be smarter than Nazis to figure this out... smarter than a Nazi... you can do it!  I have faith in you.
  •  Is it just me (none)
    or does anyone else find the Right's faux-outrage over Nick Berg disgusting?  Weren't his parents on the freeper "enemy list" because of their lawsuit against Rumsfeld?

    Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning? -- G. W. Bush

    by Unstable Isotope on Thu May 27, 2004 at 06:32:56 PM PDT

  •  Sex or Rape (none)
    Who cares!

    That is the common thread in all of these defenses by so-called Americans.

    They are deeply confused about that little triviality called 'consent.'  If it turns Joe on to have a glo-stick stuck up his ass, so he gets Fred to do it, that is a consensual act among adults.  Fret all you want about whether it is 'moral,' but no one was hurt and it is none of your business.

    If you take some random Iraqi who was has a 10% to 30% chance of being an insurgent, and shove a glo-stick up his ass while he is held in prison against his will, that is rape.

    It is the difference between having sex with your wife and raping a stranger.  It is a huge difference.  And it is sickening that wingnuts are purposely trying to conflate the two in order to make their inept leadership's immoral and illegal behavior 'no big deal.'

    A pox on their camp.

  •  Exended Entry Box (none)
    Please use it for long posts.  Thanks.

    The computer vastly magnifies the results of incompetence in its owners and operators.--Dr. Peter | Blog

    by folkbum on Thu May 27, 2004 at 07:32:58 PM PDT

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