In a way, you have to blame Americans like former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and media bigots like Sean Hannity and Daniel Pipes for the moral corruption that drives many of the abuses in Iraq and Afghanistan.
With their help, most Americans easily made the jump from not only hating the hijackers responsible for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, but also all Arabs and Muslims.
Few Americans questioned their nation’s decision to expand the war on terrorism from Afghanistan, where the al-Qaeda terrorists were based, to Iraq, a secular Arab dictatorship equally threatened by al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden.
Even fewer Americans believe that their soldiers who have engaged in murder, torture, physical abuses and acts of religious desecration such as the flushing of a copy of the Koran down a toilet at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, are guilty and should be punished.
Why should they have when their government leaders had waived all of the civilized guidelines of military conduct, declaring, for example, that Arab and Muslim prisoners would not be protected by the protections of the Geneva Conventions, used to protect the prisoners of all civilized countries in wars going back to World War II.
In reality, most countries like Nazi Germany, the Empire of Japan, Stalinist Russia and the Vietcong, violated those protections as often as we did. But at least, none were arrogant to openly declare their intent to violate those rights.
The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq represented a new evolution in American racial patriotism and “Christian pride.”
Americans rushed to fight in both Afghanistan and Iraq, not just to avenge those responsible or not responsible for Sept. 11. They went there to act out generations of anti-Arab and anti-Muslim animosity fanned by Hollywood movies, the mainstream media, our educational system and their elected government leaders.
Claiming to be a Democracy seeking to avenge an injustice, the United States acted more like a mob gone wild willing to string up any Arab they crossed, in much the same way they tolerated the lynching of Blacks falsely accused of having looked at White women with envy.
I don’t know if the Newsweek story that an American interrogator did or did not flush a copy of the Koran down a toilet at the Guantanamo Bay prison. It doesn’t matter. American soldiers have done worse to the Arab and Muslim prisoners, many of whom have been detained without any civil rights protections for more than two years.
Even a serial killer or mass murderer –” historically all in the United States have been Christians and White –” are accorded legal protections to have representation, to have the charges against them reviewed for truth, and to be able to fight the charges not only in court but in the public forum.
Not so for the thousands of Arabs and Muslims held at numerous American prisons. The conditions under which most are being kept would never have withstood the scrutiny given the prison conditions of prior wars.
And even as the evidence of American abuses mounts, rather than admit to the behavior as criminal, many Americans and media pundits continue to brush the abuses aside as “justified.”
In other words, immoral behavior is justified when it is us against “them.” Slaughtering innocent people and “suicide bombings” are immoral if the bombers are Muslim and the targets are American, but are justified when the victims are American.
We saw examples of how Americans historically crossed the line of moral behavior in numerous Hollywood movies including “The Patriot” starring Mel Gibson, and “Pearl Harbor” with Alec Baldwin playing the legendary avenger Col. Jimmy Doolittle. Doolittle (Baldwin) vowed that if he could not return from his mission over Tokyo, he would crash his plane into any Japanese building in a justified act of suicide that brought cheers from teary-eyed American audiences in movie theaters across the country.
Of course, while the populations of many Arab and Muslim countries are protesting the defiling of the Koran, most of their governments remain silent and afraid to challenge the American racial imperialism.
That should be as troubling to the Arabs and Muslims of the world as much as the act of an American defiling their holiest religious icon.