by Constance Daley
American Reporter Correspondent
St. Simons Island, Ga.
May 5, 2004
SHAME ON THEM; SHAME ON U.S.
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- This is not a news story. Readers can find the facts as they spin out of control in the media. What you'll read here is a full measure of disgust and outrage spewing forth as my fingers speed across this keyboard.
The smiles on the faces of the Americans guarding the detainees were not the smiles of sadistic torturers ... they were the smiles of summer campers tricking the weakest among them and dancing around in glee, laughing hysterically.
It's common knowledge that war is the fastest way to turn boys into men. "They'll grow up fast in the Army." Oh, yeah? These imbeciles in khaki are no more than boys in a locker room, swatting wet towels until they raise welts on their team mates.
There is no justification for any of the actions reported except stupidity. Of course, I'm sure the nincompoops will say, "Hey, look what they're doing to us, dancing after blowing up a truck, killing Marines." They don't get it, do they? "They" dance after blowing up a truck; "we" don't do that.
As usual, we'll start blaming someone or something for what's wrong with our dysfunctional society. Are we a people where one of us (or, six of us) could poke with chemical-laced sticks, shock with cattle prods, humiliate other human beings whose entire culture so abhors public nudity, sexual innuendo or homosexual insinuation, they would truly rather die than be part of it? Is that who we are?
So who really is to blame? A conscience is only "almost" a given. It has to be developed. So, whose job is that? I say unequivocally it is the mother and father (or, to be politically correct, the primary care giver.)
Most of us can hear our mother's words resounding in our ears: "I don't care if Robbie licks his fingers, we do not lick our fingers, we use our napkins." Or, "how would you like it if someone did that to you?" Or, "Don't ever even let the tip of the flag touch the ground ... not ever." Or, "Wipe that smile off your face, it isn't funny." Or, "stop dancing around in your underwear." And, as part of Keep American Beautiful, "don't be a litterbug."
Well, we all have our little lessons we can recall at a moment when we might be tempted to be rude, mean, callous, careless or unsympathetic. There are rules of life that we more absorb than learn; more observe than are taught. When faced with obedience to the Rules of War, we do not leave our humanity at home and just don a uniform.
This news broke right at the tail end of the tributes and memorials to Cpl. Patrick Tillman. The Purple Heart, Silver Star, hero who in his way was given what we want to give to all our fallen heroes - a magnificent send off. We learned he gave up a multi-million dollar career to enlist in this War on Terror. He performed admirably for the sake of all of us and we accepted the sacrifice. I'm sure his love of country was not bestowed upon him at birth, but nurtured throughout his lifetime until he was willing to lay down his life for us all. And, he did.
Now we have to accept the shame of having sent six misfits to fight the War on Terror - misfits who are given the simple assignment to guard detainees. To me that says, "Don't let them run away." Maybe only one was a misfit; perhaps, just perhaps, the others gave in to "peer pressure." If that's the case, the training is not up to par. Peer pressure ends at puberty.
The first time I felt shame at being American was hearing about the Mai Lai incident in Vietnam. Even then, it didn't cripple me until I found myself in the bowels of the Moscow Train Station. I had taken a soccer team from Indiana to engage in a friendly game in an effort to communicate good will during the cold war. We stored our gear in lockers and in my efforts to move the team along, I slammed my locker door without noting the combination.
The language barrier was unbelievable but we got ourselves across with gestures and pig Latin. I had to go downstairs into the level of administrators who could relieve me of my predicament. As I walked along the corridors, I saw the walls papered with posters of the Mai Lai incident. I was so ashamed. I said nothing. My guide said nothing. But, the air was heavy around me and I felt shame for what had been done.
I don't recall another incident of such shame until the New York Police Department came under fire for the broomstick incident, where a prisoner was subjected to the rough insertion of a broom stick into his rectum.
Americans don't do that! No matter what! Or, do we?
More and more I catch reports where mention is made of "assassination attempts," or "assassination targets." Americans don't do that!
It's impossible to believe that those guards were so raised that they might think it's okay to maim and humiliate another human being.
Is this summer-camp mentality so ingrained in these sophomoric, stupid, guards that they think it's okay?
Do we all have to bear the shame of these bad guys who have no boundaries while the sacrifice of the good guys gets no positive press?
Yes, I am very angry. There is no justification for such barbaric acts. We are Americans. Americans don't do that.
Or, do we?