For years the writers, editors and readers of The American Conservative have had to endure the undeserving charge that its paleo-conservative-libertarian roots are racist. I’ll never forget the former Washington Times writer who told me to my face, quite smugly as we were sharing a cab during the 2008 Republican National Convention, that I write for a racist rag.
In part, these charges are old, lobbed and maintained by founding editor Pat Buchanan’s more adamant longtime detractors. But the slander endures, most vociferously it would seem, by unreconstructed liberals who never read the magazine and neoconservatives like my arrogant cabmate, who especially abhor the magazine’s founding manifesto: that the Bush Administration’s war policy was a mistake, and that the political and tactical reaction to 9/11 was and is not only stunningly wrongheaded, but dangerous and motivated by venal special interests that hew not to the U.S constitution nor to the morals and values of an American republic.
Couldn’t one as easily say their own advocacy of endless war against “brown people” in the Middle East and Central Asia – not to mention North and East Africa – is racism on a Global scale? Writers at The Weekly Standard, National Review, The Washington Times and Commentary have been ruthless non-apologists for the indiscriminate killing of non-whites as a means to their ends, from the “shock and awe” invasion of Iraq and the flattening of Fallujah to the ethnic cleansing of Baghdad, today’s drone strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, and all of the wars’ human repercussions (death, disease, displacement). In their world, these are always treated as time-wasting, politically motivated afterthoughts that merely muddy their own paper-white narrative.
On a micro-level, how can calling what happened at Abu Ghraib (dragging Arab men by leashes, stacking them up naked in a pyramid, beating and turning dogs loose on them) “a small prison scandal” over which the American public got unduly “hysterical,” not be considered racist in some way? Those were among the many remarks Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol made on the air and in writing that urged Americans to recalibrate their outrage downward in the wake of the 2004 revelations.
His cohort at Commentary, Norman Podhoretz, agreed, downplaying what happened at Abu Ghraib while making it a political issue, accusing the Democrats of going off “the intellectual and moral rails as to compare the harassment and humiliation of the prisoners in Abu Ghraib—none of whom, so far as anyone then knew, was even maimed, let alone killed—to the horrendous torturing and murdering that had gone on in that same prison under Saddam Hussein or, even more outlandishly, to the Soviet gulag in which many millions of prisoners died.”
Now, Kristol, in an effort, again, to downplay what many are already calling a war crime, has declared U.S Marines urinating on (desecrating) Afghan corpses part of an American military tradition.
But it’s also worth noting that pissing has a distinguished place in American military history. Most famously, General George S. Patton relieved himself in the Rhine on March 24, 1945—and made sure he was photographed doing so. …
It wasn’t just American generals who seemed preoccupied with pissing back in 1945. Three weeks earlier, Winston Churchill had visited the front lines near Jülich. Churchill had long dreamed of urinating on Hitler’s much-vaunted Siegfried Line to show his contempt for Hitler and Nazism…
So perhaps, as Rep. Allen West, once a battalion commander in Iraq, put it last week, all the sanctimonious Obama administration bigwigs “need to chill.” Did Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta really need to speak up at all?
Does Kristol realize he is comparing dead men to a river or a territorial boundary, suggesting these corpses were never human at all?
Kristol and his ilk don’t think much of the Geneva Conventions, so it is almost not worth the breath to remind them that desecrating corpses is in violation of international treaty, but it is also against military law, which means the Marines already recognize such desecration is not heroic, funny, eye-for-an-eye, nor proof of battlefield supremacy. It’s wrong.
Funny how even suggesting such behavior was happening in World War II or even Vietnam is taboo, but today Kristol and his more deranged ideological offspring like Pamela Geller of the popular Atlas Shrugs website, now appear to be cheering it on, even questioning the loyalty and politics of those who don’t.
“I love these Marines,” wrote Geller after the story broke last week. “Perhaps this is the infidel interpretation of the Islamic ritual of washing and preparing the body for burial.”
What a hoot! Even scarier are the comments, some of which suggest that if al Qaeda wants to field an army of bloodthirsty psychos, beheading and dismembering their enemies and desecrating the dead, then our Marines have every right to do it too.
This might sound like a second grade tutorial, but get with the program: that ain’t how it works among evolved, civilized societies, and it’s not what America is supposed to stand for, no matter how much these right-wing fanatics want to squeeze the Old Testament retroactively into the U.S Constitution and all of its founding principles.
From Jon Soltz, war vet and head of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, on Thursday:
This isn’t the same military that let people like Rep. Allen West go with a slap on the wrist. West, while serving in Iraq, detained and abused a likely innocent Iraqi, shooting a pistol off right next to the Iraqi’s head, after West’s men captured and beat the Iraqi. The military now understands that actions like West’s, or the Marines in the video, directly put our own troops in danger, and that not doling out justice and punishment sets the US Military back, and puts our troops at increased risk.
We, as a nation, have to be 100 percent behind the Pentagon on this, and seek justice in this case. Those who would cheer on the disgusting actions of these Marines, only serve to compound the damage already done by them.
There are no words to express my disgust at the video making the rounds today, of U.S. Marines apparently urinating on the dead bodies of the Taliban. As an Iraq War veteran who works with Iraq and Afghanistan veterans every day, I can truthfully say that the Marines in the video have undermined everything that I and those who served with me tried to do.
Kristol finished his own column by calling the pissing on dead Afghans “foolishness,” not so different than the these-were-only-a-few-bad-apples-get-over-it rhetoric he promulgated after Abu Ghraib.
Meanwhile, since 2002, The American Conservative has endeavored (at risk of its own marginalization in the conservative mainstream) to protest not only the Global War on Terror, but all of the collateral damage that war in the non-white Muslim World has produced: hundreds of thousands of deaths, the displacement of millions, environmental destruction that could be the cause of birth defects and chronic illness for generations, the detention and torture of countless individuals and the support of despots and tyrannical regimes that kill and oppress so many millions more.
You decide who is the racist.