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View Diary: Gonzales Watch: Women at Abu Ghraib (140 comments)

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  •  Death penalty for these abusers. (none)
    Hang them. Torture them. Stone them. Better yet, let Iraqi civilians do it. This from someone who opposes the death penalty. Who wouldn't join an insurgency after this? Filthy worthless bastards. This is absolutely outrageous.
    •  Death Penalty (none)
      I'm with you on this one. I oppose the death penatly also, however, Let th4ese assholes get what they gave.  
    •  Quiet Rage (3.00)
      is the name of the movie made about the Stanford Prison Experiment.
      You maybe familiar with the 1960's experiment where average Stanford students serving as gaurds (the best and brightest, no?) tortured and degraded fellow students who were playing the role of inmates. The experiment had to be called off early and the students, both victims and victimizers spent years in therapy...

      It is so easy for us to judge pawns as we are sitting in luxury and convience that the modern petro-chemical civilzation can provide.

      I'm sure the morals of the situation  are little murkier when the smoke from burning cars and flesh of the Iraqtrosphe.

      Emancipate yourself from Mental Slavery, No one but ourselves can free our Minds.

      by TustonDAZ on Sun Jan 23, 2005 at 08:01:37 PM PST

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      •  That's a great citation (none)
        and one of my favorite studies for all of its very troubling implications -- not the least of which was the ethics of Professor Zimbardo and his assistants in carrying out the experiments in the first place.

        Another, similar set of studies were those carried out a decade earlier by Stanley Milgram. I'm not going to summarize them here when it's so well summarized at this site. In those studies, the "victims" were actually researchers although not presented as such to the individuals being studied. The authority figure called the shots and the subjects were encouraged to apply higher and higher levels of electricity. Yes, it was fake electricity and the "victims" were faking their pain and their fainting, but it "tortured the torturers" (the subjects) for years to realize what their momentary blind aquiesence to authority elicited from them.

        But the ethics of this study, too, are troubling. You wouldn't be able to repeat the experiment today, partly because of the ethical issues and partly because I don't think most of America has that blind aquiesence to authority that was so prevalent in the early 60's.

        At least I hope not!

         [An aside: I can't understand why bellatrys gave you a '2'. Yes, the subject is unsettling, but bellatrys generally has reasoned arguments and is not a "hit and run" rater.]

        "You don't lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case." - Ken Kesey

        by Glinda on Mon Jan 24, 2005 at 07:53:44 AM PST

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        •  I gave a 2 because I was late for work (none)
          and I'm sick to death of seeing "decent" people shill for war criminals.

          My biological male parent was a war criminal.

          An American war criminal.

          I blocked it out of my consciousness - after all, he abandoned my mother in Germany to go back to 'Nam for more fun-'n'-games cutting off gook ears and standing on hills of bodies, before I was born, when she wouldn't get an abortion, and so what did he have to do with me? I don't accept that criminality is in the genes, so I could pretend the mofo didn't exist.

          Until I fell in love with someone from Vietnam, and had to face my own dark side inheritance. It ended sadly, as most love stories do, but I learned a great deal, and not just about myself.

          (It would be a nice, "Readers' Digest" ending to find out that my sperm donor reformed, got counselling, went back like those guys in the
          Readers Digest stories and worked on building schools or adopting orphans in Vietnam, maybe tried to get in touch with the family he abandoned - but no. As far as I've been able to work out, he has probably been teaching survivalists how to shoot things in the mountains of Colorado. Frankly, I would feel a lot more comfortable if I knew he was dead, to be honest. If I were to see his name in the paper as one of those vets who turns out to be serial strangler of prostitutes, I wouldn't be terribly surprised.)

          And then the reports about Tiger Force came out, and it turned out that even the half-truths I'd known were less than that: it was official, it was endorsed from on high, it was widespread, and all the "oh the poor boys being made monsters by all that stress" was just crap and the people saying so, like the Noble Colin Powell whose arse is still kissed like McCain's around here - knew that. And so did plenty of other Americans.

          We are no fucking different from the Prussians in 1914. I have read plenty about the Prussians and the only thing I didn't understand was how they could claim, apparently straightfaced, and with sincerity, that they were innocent and the victims - and do so all the way up to the invasion of the Sudetenland and through WWII.

          But now I understand it perfectly, because I see it now.

          So long as we make excuses for our national vices, so long will we refuse to reform.

          As inge, my German reader has warned us: Been there, done that, got the rubble.

          "Don't be a janitor on the Death Star!" - Grey Lady Bast (change @ for AT to email)

          by bellatrys on Mon Jan 24, 2005 at 04:58:54 PM PST

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          •  I can't form a coherent sentence ... (none)
            after reading your post. I wish I had more time to formulate my thoughts properly before this diary disappears and you never see this.

            Forgive me for being clumsy here ...

            I sobbed for the second time tonight upon reading your post. The first time I cried was after my daughter was safely asleep and I could cry mightily over the American Prospect Forgotton Prisoners article. I can't cry safely during the day. My daughter thinks I'm the rock-solid one in the family.

            But I've been feeling more and more like a good German. I feel complicit in these atrocities. And I've been writing the LTEs, my congresspeople, and all my liberal friends, and talking to NYC cab drivers and the sympathetic parent at my daughter's school (BTW every parent at my daughter's school is sympathetic. It is, after all the West Village -- historic bastion of liberal politics in NYC if not the whole US).

            But it's not working ... preaching to the converted is a waste of time.

            Bottom line is ... I've deliberately shunned my handful of historically conservative close friends. These are people I've worked with, respected for their personal integrity in the past, and "agreed to disagree" with about politics during the 80s and 90s. They've probably assumed that I'm just extremely busy, as they are, and they understand how life intervenes.

            But ... and this is how I feel that have been complicit in the atrocities ... for the sake of "civility" I had decided not to "throw down the gauntlet". And I know I have to, based on previous discussions about Iraq and Bush that clearly indicated that they want to sit in their Platonic cave looking at the shadows on the wall.

            You must understand one thing: they are very intelligent, educated, sophisticated, and  seasoned urbanites. Not one is in their 20s or 30s. So this decision to look at the shadows on the cave wall rather than looking toward the light of reality at the cave's entrance is willful! And it is this that I cannot abide any longer.

            So I know realize I must get in contact with them and lay it all out. They too must know what's going on, they too must be told they are complicit and, when they argue with me, as they will inevitably do, I have to tell them directly that they have become "good Germans". Even worse, they, since they have a modicum of power and influence, have become Neville Chamberlain-style appeasers. And if they insist on continuing on this route I cannot consider them my friends.

            Strangely, because of years of mutual respect, I think that there's a better than even chance that this will work on several, if not all, of them. Convincing them is out of the question ... they are invested in their high opinion of themselves.

            ... as I was until the last couple of months. Now I can't do enough to atone. All my GOTV was useless. I need an outlet that allows me to use my skills to change this forever.

            Sorry ... I needed that "purgative" before I could address you properly.

            Your experience, what you described in your post, completely explains the strength and fierceness that I've both admired in you and yet have been puzzled by.  Yours is a story that could have destroyed a weaker-willed child's sense of the world. But through your strength, and likely the fierceness of your mother, you were able to become as strong and as clear-sighted and you have shown yourself to be to us all on this site.

            And yet, it also explains the intensity of the anger in your momentary flare-ups. I can only say, ineloquently, that reading your post made me feel viscerally a deep connection to your pain without having ever experienced anything like it in my life. The term "empathy" is just not cutting it here.

            I'm sorry this is not really how I wanted to phrase it. I just don't have the words.

            But to get back to the post of mine you responded to ... I think that those old psychologial studies merely expose how easy it is for people in authority to manipulate others to violate their ethics. Especially if their #1 ethic is to be responsive to authority, or patriotic, or in thrawl  to their minister, priest or imam.

            It also reveals how an imposed powerlessness from "above" can turn a person into a monster to those even less powerful than they are, even on a temporary basis -- the "torture of the torturer". The problem is there is a point where the powerless person forced to degrade others has to make one of three choices: 1) to actively revolt and face the consequences for that resistence, which may be severe; 2) to succumb to insanity; or 3) to become the most gleeful torturer and part of the power structure.

            The third is the "easiest" for the weak-willed, but certainly the most heinous.

            But the most vile evil of all is that of the powerful:  removed and isolated from the monstrous results of their power, basking in their ideological purity, self-satisfied, "moral".

            And the American people at home with their SUVs and HumVees and their trips in their car to the store three blocks away while averting their eyes from the war are also complicit.

            War without sacrifice ... war without reflection ... war without accountability.

            What have we become as a nation? How can we look at the troops we have abandoned, the orphans and widows, the tortured, the world? God! How do we look in the mirror?

            Sorry about the rant. I hope you have long abandoned it. I just needed to type this in.

            Bless you! Stay strong and powerful and fierce. We all need you here.

            "You don't lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case." - Ken Kesey

            by Glinda on Mon Jan 24, 2005 at 11:09:10 PM PST

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            •  Heh. (none)
              You know, I feel very much the way you do - useless, futile, not having done enough, kicking myself for having been a good little theocon as a kid, and a confused, struggling "moderate" for years thereafter. In person, I'm a nerdy, weedy mouse with a stutter, nobody pays attention to me, unless to poke fun at me, among my own circles. I frequently have to play devils' advocate to support the positions I want, because my family tends ot reflexively contradict me (but this works if I play DA, see) and like most of us here, I often feel like I'm shouting into the hurricane.

              It really is hell, being an idealist but also a pragmatist.

              But having the historical perspective helps, too - as does being a Taoist, more than anything else. You can't know what words of yours will have effect - the seed scattered on the ground, some will be eaten, some wither, some grow. And if you give up the craving for instant results - which is both a kind of pride, vanity to see that you, you alone, are Doing Something Important - and worse yet, a bullying, the need to have others Submit to you, publically - then that frees you to simply try, to act wihtout worrying if your words, your deeds will be the key to success. It's a kind of giving up of self-consciousness.

              For me, the first step - and boy was it a long and hard one - was recognizing my own moral cowardice and ll the excuses I was making, and finally taking on my demons in challenging the orthodoxy of Gibson's Passion, after seeing people who'd been held up to me as great thinkers and intellectually honest and historically informed, both wrong, and lying, all in the service of ideology, last february-march.

              It's been a terrifying Nantucket sleigh-ride ever since. But even when I feel most hopeless, I know I'm not alone, because there is this huge crowd of us here, out in the world, who now know about each other because of the net.

              Keep fighting the good fight, yourself!

              "Don't be a janitor on the Death Star!" - Grey Lady Bast (change @ for AT to email)

              by bellatrys on Tue Jan 25, 2005 at 05:27:58 AM PST

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