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That Blind Eye Now Can See
Abu Ghraib prison. Hell on this Earth for anyone sent inside its walls. Faceless, nameless Iraqis subjected to its torture rooms, rape rooms, raw wire electrocutions. Beatings so merciless that entire graveyards outside bear testament to the only true respite from the horrors within. This facility, which for decades personified the words cruelty and sadism - or rather Saddamism, is only now worthy of public outcry, indignation, condemnation.
Because the word Americans can be associated with it.
By now, the entire civilized, mechanized, Al-Jazeera-ized, Internet cafe-ized world has seen the pictures emerging from Abu Ghraib. Photos of Iraqi prisoners shamed, humiliated, beaten and debased at the hands, broomsticks, lightsticks, chairs, and "Porkyís" mentality of some of the soldiers inside.
While there is no excuse for the treatment exposed in these pictures or witness accounts, I want to know where the world was when this same abuse, and letís be honest, much worse abuse, was taking place for decades? What were the Arab countries, all countries, now so hot to castigate America, doing while these heinous human rights violations and horrors were taking place in their back yards year after year?
Turning a blind eye. And selective vision is as shameful as hypocrisy laden condescension.
History books are filled with tales of manís inhumanity to man. Cruelty is not indigenous to one culture and bigotry is not the sole property of a single nation. Human beings have an amazing capacity to love which is matched only by their capacity to hate. Combine that hatred with the terror, fear and "them-or-us" mentality of war and you get the Massacre of Nanjing of World War II, during which the Japanese army slaughtered 200,000 Chinese, raping 20,000 along the way just for fun.
Or the still unfathomable atrocities committed by Hitler and his posse upon millions of Jews. How about the attempts at genocide in Kosovo, Rwanda, Burundi? Letís not forget the Secret Police of Stalin and their not so secret killing sprees. And the entire world has a front row seat for the bloodshed between the Israelis and the Palestinians, yet that blind eye continues to stare blankly ahead.
Yet with the discovery of human rights violations in Abu Ghraib prison, the blind eye of indifference can miraculously see in order to condemn the entire American population. "Americans are all horrible people." "Americans want to rule the world." Americans are violent and sadistic." Regardless of how hypocritical are the statements flying from the mouths of people around the world, it seems the opportunity to USA bash is simply too good to pass up.
Hereís the reality: We want our soldiers back. The daily death count breaks the heart of every decent American, and the decent Americans far out number the horrible ones. We have no interest in policing, much less ruling the world. But the sad fact is, no other country is ever willing to step in to help another until America steps up first. And as to "horrible and sadistic"? The reality is that those American soldiers in Abu Ghraib are no more representative of all Americans as was Hitler representative of all Germans or Saddam of all Iraqis. The photos have sickened the stomachs of just as many in the United States as out, and the call for inquiry and action is loudest from inside this country. Make no mistake, we protect our own and we also punish our own.
America and its citizens are not perfect. We never have been and never will be. We have sadists, pedophiles, rapists, criminals, bigots and worse, as does every single nation, race and culture on this planet.
Now that the "eye" of the world is again opened, the key will be in teaching it to look everywhere and never go blind again.