The torture issue bothers me more than anything else (and there are many worthy issues) about the Rove, er, Bush administration. And you know what, I knew this kind of thing was going to happen soon after September 11, because I certainly saw seeds of it when I was in the Navy:
- Portraying the enemy as less than human, or at least less worthy than ‘us’, was pretty commonplace. Only occasionally did you hear overt epithets like ‘raghead’ or ‘sand n****r’. But the sentiment that the other side deserved to be killed because they’re already inherently evil was, I felt, very evident almost every day.
- During our officer training, one of the things that we were taught was that when you were in charge of a group of people, you were responsible for everything that your subordinates did, whether or not you were watching over them or were cognizant of what you were doing at the time. In short, the captain is supposed to be responsible for the actions of everyone on the ship. Once I got to the fleet, however, I realized that politics plays a much bigger role in the military than any code of honor. For example, the same Commander held the position of navigator on our ship during both a collision and a very public accidental disruption of the America’s Cup sailboat race. According to what we were taught, it should have been a no-brainer to can the navigator when that kind of stuff happens. Of course, he kept his job with an almost meaningless letter of reprimand. (I admit, he was a very popular guy that a lot of people liked, but that was certainly no reason to excuse him). No, the important thing in the military is that someone has to be blamed. And it’s much easier to blame the little guys because they have no power or influence. Thus the push to punish these enlisted “bad apples” like Lynndie England et al. How can anyone believe that personnel much higher up in the system weren’t also responsible for that, especially when we’ve finally seen the scope that this has taken? It really boggles my mind and angers me.
It’s symptomatic of what has been bothering me about the direction this country has been going. Basically, we’re turning into a nation of frat boys. A bunch of bullies who can’t go beyond “We Rule” and “You Suck”. They won’t acknowledge that every person deserves a minimum level of respect.