...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, 2004Repetition 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!":Listen to the MP3 Audio Clip.
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?
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.
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.There's more:
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.)
"Weekly Standard online editor Jonathan V. Last said on CNBC's Dennis Miller that he believed worse things happen in fraternity houses:And, even more... Ben Stein on CBS:
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.
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.