American Denial
by Rahul Mahajan
May 9, 2004

Send this page to a friend! (click here)



A Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted on Wednesday and Thursday found that six out of ten Americans still believed that the torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib were "isolated incidents," the rationalization that all the pundits and spinmeisters led with as soon as the story broke.

The view was indefensible at the time; Seymour Hersh's story, statements from the Red Cross, claims from Amnesty International, and much more had already made the case clear. If it persists after Rumsfeld's testimony on Friday, then it will be evidence of yet more willful blindness.

From MSNBC.com:

But Rumsfeld warned the committee that the worst was yet to come. He said he had looked at the full array of unedited photographs of the situation at Abu Ghraib for the first time Thursday night and found them “hard to believe."

"There are other photos that depict incidents of physical violence towards prisoners, acts that can only be described as blatantly sadistic, cruel and inhumane," he said. "... It’s going to get a good deal more terrible, I’m afraid."

Rumsfeld did not describe the photos, but U.S. military officials told NBC News that the unreleased images showed U.S. soldiers severely beating an Iraqi prisoner nearly to death, having sex with a female Iraqi female prisoner and “acting inappropriately with a dead body.” The officials said there was also a videotape, apparently shot by U.S. personnel, showing Iraqi guards raping young boys.

This phrasing about a U.S. soldier "having sex" with a female Iraqi prisoner, which occurred originally in the Taguba report, is of course breathtaking evidence of sexism or rather some nexus between sexism and racism that is still endemic in the culture. This is rape. This is not a context in which there could be any meaningful notion of consent. This should be obvious. The only question is whether the use of this phraseology, and its unthinking transmission in media reporting, requires that the female prisoner in question be one of the Untermenschen or whether it might be used in other contexts.

Anyway, imagine a video of a person being beaten nearly to death, a woman being raped, a corpse being desecrated, and young boys being raped. Will people in the United States be able to see this and still construct some convoluted rationale for our inherent moral superiority?

Rahul Mahajan is publisher of Empire Notes, and is currently in Iraq. He is author of Full Spectrum Dominance: U.S. Power in Iraq and Beyond. He can be reached at rahul@empirenotes.org.

Other Recent Articles by Rahul Mahajan

* Report from Baghdad
* Report from Fallujah: Destroying a Town in Order to Save it
* Terrorism's Future
* Bush -- Is the Tide Turning?
* Kerry vs. Dean; New Hampshire vs. Iraq
* State of the Union 2004
* Gunpoint Democracy in Iraq
* Iraq WMD Deceit Runs Deep

* The New Humanitarianism: Basra as Military Target