Jun 22nd
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Some news read like Penthouse letters. Thanks to the freedom of the press, we have been given a chance to peek into the torture chambers of the Gitmo camp at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The horrors described by Paisley Dodds on the AP website and repeated in Maureen Dawd's column in the New York Times on Sunday, January 30, belong to that category. I have no choice but to quote some of the story here:

One female civilian contractor used a special outfit that included a miniskirt, thong underwear and a bra during late-night interrogations with prisoners, mostly Muslim men...

Isn't that awful? But wait, it gets worse. Here's how a Saudi man (who, for a reason we would all love to know, was taking flying lessons in Arizona just before 9/11) was tortured.

...she removed her uniform top to expose a tight-fitting T-shirt and began taunting the detainee, touching her breasts, rubbing them against the prisoner's back and commenting on his apparent erection.

I believe it was a two-prong approach. First, no self-respecting Arab can survive without losing his self-respect when an American woman makes comments about his private parts. For some strange reason, Arabs don't feel comfortable when compared to other men. Their discomfort produced body bags in which their females are condemned to spend their lives and cliterectomy they have to undergo at the treshold of their womanhood. Second, didn't she know that a good Muslim is not allowed to have an erection unless thinking of his death and the houris that, contrary to what the mullahs had taught him are not going to be there to welcome him to his heaven?

Apparently, not all Muslims are that good.

Soon after the Abu Ghraib scandal broke, a New York Times article described how guards there ordered several prisoners out of their cells and directed them to disrobe and masturbate. The prisoners had no choice but to comply. Imagine the scene: several naked prisoners in a row ruthlessly exposed to the guards, both male and female, as well as dozens of their fellow inmates watching from their cells. The setup bore no resemblance, not only to the soft fur thrown in front of a fireplace in a dark, empty house, but even to a minimally sanitary bathroom stacked with girlie magazines. Nevertheless, according to the article, one of the “tortured” prisoners quickly reached the point of no return and couldn't stop when ordered, which shows that we are up against a bunch of truly unstoppable guys in our War on Terror.

But let's get back to Gitmo, and never mind the timeless beauty of AP prose.

The detainee looked up and spat in her face...

The interrogator left the room to ask a Muslim linguist how she could break the prisoner's reliance on God. The linguist told her to tell the detainee that she was menstruating, touch him, then make sure to turn off the water in his cell so he couldn't wash.

Strict interpretation of Islamic law forbids physical contact with women other than a man's wife or family, and with any menstruating women, who are considered unclean. The concept was to make the detainee feel that after talking to her he was unclean and was unable to go before his God in prayer and gain strength...

...The interrogator used ink from a red pen to fool the detainee...

...She then started to place her hands in her pants as she walked behind the detainee... As she circled around him he could see that she was taking her hand out of her pants. When it became visible the detainee saw what appeared to be red blood on her hand. She said, “Who sent you to Arizona?” He then glared at her with a piercing look of hatred.

She then wiped the red ink on his face. He shouted at the top of his lungs, spat at her and lunged forward — so fiercely that he broke loose from one ankle shackle.

He began to cry like a baby... the interrogator left saying, “Have a fun night in your cell without any water to clean yourself.”

I am tempted to note here that I (and, most probably, you) personally know a few men who would pay to switch places with that Saudi detainee, at least for a couple of hours, shackles, red ink, and all. If you tell me those men must be sick, I won't argue. However, unlike our aspiring pilot, they are perfectly harmless.

Seriously speaking, I see no torture in this scene. I see a savage choked by his superstitions and a professional interrogator using those superstitions to break him in order to obtain information that could make us all safer. I suspect she took very long showers after each session like that. Or maybe she didn't. In either case, the detainee survived to tell his horrible story, but would have difficulties corroborating it, since the hellish torture he had endured left no scars. Chances are some of his Arab friends have an irresistible urge to emulate the passionate Abu Ghraib inmate every time they recall his ordeal.

If the description above is accurate, I don't see anything unethical in the actions of the interrogator either. Every interrogator uses the suspect's weaknesses to obtain the needed information. As you can see from this example, being an observant Muslim is most certainly a weakness.

At this point, someone is bound to ask me if I would agree to perform as an interrogator at Gitmo. Frankly, I wouldn't. Nor would I want to be a librarian, or a nurse, or an elected official. So, what does that prove?

But I have to ask, what would have happened had the roles been reversed.

During the Gulf War, an American helicopter crashed, and Iraqi soldiers captured the survivors. All of them were later liberated. One of them was a female physician, a colonel if I remember correctly, who had both legs broken in the crash. Two Iraqi soldiers tied her hands and threw her into a truck. While one of them was driving, the other one was enthusiastically examining her anatomy; then they switched. They weren't interrogating her; they were just having one hell of a good time. After she was liberated and recovered from her ordeal, she gave an interview to the New York Times. She described the episode in precise, impersonally sterile terms. The reporter expressed his horror at the circumstances of her capture. The impeccable professionalism of the colonel's response elevated my respect for her to the point of admiration. She said, “My captors' actions neither presented an imminent danger to my life nor caused me an excruciating pain.”

I wonder how those Iraqi soldiers violated the Islamic prohibition of close contacts with women outside their immediate families without causing themselves irreparable psychological damage. Why didn't they complain of the torture they suffered at the (bound) hands of the American colonel with broken legs. I see three possible explanations. One is that the soldiers were twin brothers who mistook the colonel for their younger sister. Another is that those Iraqi soldiers were actually Israeli spies. And, finally, it's possible that our interpretation of the abovementioned prohibition is flawed. We do tend to misinterpret various points of the Islamic dogma; without such tendency, we would have never arrived at the conclusion that Islam is a “religion of peace and love”. Can it be that the taboo is applied differently, depending on who is in charge? The colonel's case illustrates Koranic recommendations for a man who finds an infidel woman at his mercy. I suspect the Koran fails to provide efficient guidance for the faithful warrior of Allah who finds himself in the opposite situation. That's why the only recourse left for a good Muslim at Gitmo was to behave like a rabid animal. Fascinating.

The contrast between these two cases of torture is the contrast between a vile caveman and a civilized person. A civilized person knows she or he can be harmed by the enemy, but can refuse to be humiliated. A pack of hyenas can kill you, but cannot insult you. A caveman, on the other hand, is always at the mercy of his idiotic superstitions — oh, pardonnez-moi, his “Abrahamic faith”.

Of course, had the colonel been captured today, her fate might've been very different. Today, Al Jazeera (extolled a few years ago by the American liberal press as a free voice of the Arab world) provides Arab murderers with an opportunity to torture and execute their victims in public, while remaining in the (hopefully, temporary) safety of their undisclosed location. Today, she would've had a very realistic opportunity to have her head slowly sawed off in front of millions of delighted Arab TV viewers. Under these circumstances, her blood would not have rendered her murderers unclean before the evil idol they worship, and most major media outlets would have described the event without using the word torture.

These events are important to us, because they help us understand what made the Holocaust possible. Abu Graib remains on the front pages of newspapers around the world, although its “victims” are alive, and well, and unafraid to accuse their captors. How many of you still remember that eight-month-pregnant Israeli woman whom Arabs shot point-blank along with her four young daughters? It happened the same week Abu Graib hit the news. Unlike the Abu Graib prisoners, these five Jews are still dead. Their murderers were shot and killed by Israeli soldiers, but those who dispatched them are alive and well. They have killed a few more Jews since. They will most certainly try to kill many more in the near future. The world is not worried about that particular murder. And why should it? That was but an insignificant episode in the long chain of murders intended to gradually erase Israel from the map. Good people around the world have nothing against it. They have endorsed the destruction of Israel in the name of higher ideals. Is it anti-Semitism? You bet it is. But it is, inevitably, much more than that.

South Africa used to be an integral, albeit remote, part of European civilization. To be sure, it wasn't a paradise on earth. And yet, it was a prosperous, democratic country that could be reformed. Instead it was destroyed. It was happily sacrificed to unapologetic racists like Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. Today, the country is run by people whose participation in our civilization is limited to their reluctant agreement to wear a necktie instead of a loincloth when they attend the UN General Assembly. They don't consider it necessary to mask their hatred of the white race and its civilization, even though that civilization keeps bailing them out of all kinds of crises they keep bringing upon themselves. The crime rate is growing, AIDS is rampant, and corruption has become the norm. Did the “colored” South Africans benefit from the destruction of their country? I don't see how. I only see the eradication of a vital segment of European civilization. Since we are still a part of that civilization, this was a victory for our enemies and a defeat for us. Sacrificing South Africa to racist demagogues was a suicidal act for our civilization. So is the betrayal of Israel.

In Europe, our suicidal tendencies are more pronounced than they are in the United States. The term European civilization used to be so appropriate, because Europe was the place where our civilization emerged from the Dark Ages, through the Renaissance and a series of technological revolutions into democracy. In the last century, Europe attempted suicide by Hitler. The United States bailed them out and prevented them from attempting suicide by Stalin. As soon as we relaxed our suicide watch, Europe overdosed on Muslim immigration. Before this generation leaves the scene, the term European civilization will be used mostly by archeologists. American archeologists, to be precise.

Are we immune from the European suicidal insanity?

Soon after the Abu Graib scandal was brought to public attention, a friend's family invited me for dinner. Like our civilization, her family had both Jewish and Christian roots. What's more important, they are terrific people: well educated, bright, and warm. I was anticipating a delightful conversation. Instead, someone mentioned Abu Graib, and everyone began telling each other how it made them ashamed to be an American. It was very important for each of them to be more ashamed of being an American than the next guy. By the time dessert was served, the orgy of self-flagellation had subsided, and I used the pause as an opportunity to ask everyone why the non-torture at Abu Graib perturbed them more than the execution of that Israeli woman and her children, including the one yet unborn. Guess what? They had the answer ready. They easily explained to me how it was the fault of the Israeli government, American government, Zionists, and the woman herself. They sounded extremely convincing. They most certainly convinced themselves.

A few months later, the bereaved father of Nick Berg was using the same twisted logic telling everyone who would listen how Bush and Cheney had killed his son. Not only were Bush and Cheney absent at the scene of the beheading, they didn't send poor Nick to Iraq either; he went there on his own accord in pursuit of his own goals. And yet, nobody objected to his father's idiotic ravings.

That's exactly what made the last Holocaust possible.

If I were an architect, I would begin designing the next Holocaust memorials now, to be ready for next intermission comes between world wars.

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February 3, 2005

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