Friday, June 17, 2005

When you read some of the graphic descriptions of what has occurred here [at Guantanamo Bay]--I almost hesitate to put them in the [Congressional] Record, and yet they have to be added to this debate. Let me read to you what one FBI agent saw. And I quote from his report:
On a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water. Most times they urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been left there for 18-24 hours or more. On one occasion, the air conditioning had been turned down so far and the temperature was so cold in the room, that the barefooted detainee was shaking with cold. . . . On another occasion, the [air conditioner] had been turned off, making the temperature in the unventilated room well over 100 degrees. The detainee was almost unconscious on the floor, with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been literally pulling his hair out throughout the night. On another occasion, not only was the temperature unbearably hot, but extremely loud rap music was being played in the room, and had been since the day before, with the detainee chained hand and foot in the fetal position on the tile floor.
If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others -- that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners.
I'm not much for long quotes, but had to make an exception here. Durbin's remarks been widely excerpted to malicious effect, but not very much reported in full (as they were at DailyKos). To anyone who can read, their meaning should be clear: Americans, were they to learn what the FBI agent reported at Guantanamo, would not recognize those actions as consonant with their values. (Maybe some basic civics is required, too.)

So how, then, did Durbin's remarks come to be so widely portrayed as a condemnation of the American armed forces, or a comparison of the United States to Nazi Germany? Cynical as I am, I wouldn't blame the ability of the American people to read, or even to think straight. They haven't, for the most part, been given Durbin's words to read -- not without outrageous editing and misrepresentation and clouds of hot gas to distort them, anyway.

I fear that, while we are still able to grasp basic rhetoric and plain facts, the shrieking, clanking commentary machine that is always going off around us makes it too hard to hear.

UPDATE. I have been reading my commenters, and they make me sad. Not because they don't see the problem, but because they underline it: you must use a very limited species of language if you are going to tell the truth, otherwise the sense erasers of the Right will seize upon your wrongspeak and negate your whole point.

With all respect, fuck that noise, and fuck the dizzy notion that the Left is the primary purveyor of Political Correctness in this sick, sad era. Fuck that shit in the spirit of Lenny Bruce, Shirley Chisholm, Bill Hicks, Randy Newman, Adny Shernoff, Malcolm X, Mojo Nixon, Jocelyn Elders, Abbie Hoffman, and, sure, while we're at it, Colonel Nathan R. Jessep in A Few Good Men, and Howard Dean. Fuck 'em, in other words, if they can't take a joke. Or the truth. You want to paint the corners, trying to put the truth over in a squiggly way, you go right on ahead. Maybe that's more mature, but it looks to me like playing the other team's game in your own ballpark.

(UPDATED for clarity --like that would help! What do I know about the ephus pitch? Nothing, my friends.)

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