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"Burn it Down, Gentlemen"

From Fred Clark at Slacktivist...here are excerpts of his latest posting. Just great:

"When you have to resort to the NABA defense, you're in bad shape. That's NABA as in "Not As Bad As."

We've heard a lot of this lately from the nabobs of NABA in the Bush administration. The American abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison, we are reminded, was Not As Bad As the abuses committed there by Saddam Hussein back in the day. The lawlessness of Guantanamo Bay, the president insists, indignantly, is Not As Bad As the kind of thing Joe Stalin used to do. And while more than 100 prisoners have been beaten and tortured to death in American custody during the past three years, that's Not As Bad As the death toll from the terrorist attacks of 9/11 -- the event that we have taken as license to adopt means that are almost, but perhaps Not (quite) As Bad As the means of the terrorists we rightly condemn as immoral.

I do not merely concede these points, I heartily embrace them. Take the whole sordid affair -- the Lynndie photoshoot, the torturing to death of innocents and adversaries alike, the "extraordinary rendition" of unknown hundreds or thousands on the slenderest of suspicions -- and it still doesn't put us in the same league as the A-list All-Stars of Evil.

But, good God, is this what America is now reduced to? Do we really have to go all the way over to Stalin or Saddam to find an example of someone whose behavior is reassuringly worse than our own? How are we supposed to maintain a shred of pride in our nation or in ourselves as a people when the best we can say for ourselves is that we're Not As Bad As the worst people we can think of? Do we really need Stalin in the class to blow the curve so we can pass this course?

...Former president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Jimmy Carter yesterday became the latest to call for the closing of America's shameful prison camp in Guantanamo, Cuba:

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter has called for his country to shut down the Guantanamo Bay prison to demonstrate its commitment to human rights.

"The U.S. continues to suffer terrible embarrassment and a blow to our reputation ... because of reports concerning abuses of prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo," Carter said after a two-day human rights conference at his Atlanta center.

Carter is right. Or at least almost right. It is not really the "reports concerning abuses of prisoners" that are the cause of America's desperate, shameful appeal to the NABA defense, it is the actual abuse of prisoners.

We're supposed to be the good guys. Detention without charge, torture, abuse, extraordinary rendition, disregard for the Geneva Conventions and the unadorned murder of prisoners are not things that the good guys should tolerate, let alone actively embrace.

Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib II and the entire apparatus of secret American torture cells around the world are premised on the idea that because we are fighting demons we must adopt their demonic methods.

That experiment has failed. The demons cannot be harnessed, cannot be controlled. Guantanamo, like Abu Ghraib, has become a national disgrace.

Burn it down, gentlemen."
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