In the United States, the issue is not really about whether or not American marines have engaged in atrocities, torture and even possible murder.
For most Americans, the issue is “so what?”
Ever since Sept. 11, and the failure of President Bush to arrest Osama Bin Laden, Americans have lost all sense of justice, abandoning a moral conscience to enjoy an emotion-driven vigilantism of hate.
Much of this American hatred has been redefined as “patriotism,” although it is not patriotic at all. Just an unjustified anger to strike out at anyone who is an easy target.
And not since the 1950s when African Americans were the targets of American racism, have Americans found a more worthy victim.
Although the 1950s may sound remote, the fact is anti-Black hatred and racism continued through the 1990s. The lynching of Blacks continued, although at a more infrequent pace as the civil rights movement pressured Americans to curb their racism and store it in a closet.
That racism was able to resurface after Sept. 11 in the form of anti-Arab and anti-Muslim hate. Arabs and Muslims are not as dark skinned as Blacks, but they are darker skinned than most Americans. Even more convenient, while Blacks have created strong advocacy organizations to combat racism, Arabs and Muslims remain the victims of their own political folly and failed leadership.
In the months after Sept. 11, 14 people who “looked Middle Eastern” were murdered by Americans enraged by Bin Laden’s terrorism. Every excuse was found to deny the link between the killings and a Sept. 11 backlash.
Although American officials have publicly urged Americans to show tolerance, the calls were mostly intended for show. The United States could not condone an open campaign of hatred against Arabs and Muslims while seeking the cooperation of Arab and Muslim dictatorships in the Middle East to hunt down Bin Laden, and to invade Iraq, the jackpot benefit that Bush found under the rubble of the destruction of New Yorks’ World Trade Center towers.
Iraq had nothing to do with Sept. 11, only proving the war on terrorism is really a war on Arabs and Muslims.
Although in every past war the United States has respected the international laws regarding conflict such as the Fourth Geneva Conventions, they cast the legalities aside in dealing with Arab and Muslim targets.
Americans celebrated when Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld explained incomprehensibly that those who attacked America, and those who defended themselves against American provocations, were “illegal combatants,” literally a term that the Bush administration fabricated.
As a result, American Marines have been given the “wink greenlight” to abuse, torture and even kill any of the hundreds of prisoners that are being held illegally in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba or in other American prisons in the Middle East and Asia.
Amnesty International, an organization that has a impeccable history of decrying human rights violations in nearly every country, has denounced the American mistreatment of prisoners as “war crimes” and also calling them the “Gulag of our times,” a reference to the harsh prison system that the former Soviet Union maintained to punish anyone who challenged the state dictatorship.
While some may be linked to anti-American violence, most of the prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay are dissendents and are heroes in the eyes of Arabs and Muslims and most people in the world.
Even the United Nations, which the United States loved until it found its independence from American dictates in the 1960s, has declared that prisoners held by American Marines have been tortured.
Just as the Soviets denounced the criticism of their Gulag system, the Bush administration is ferociously denying it is engaged in atrocities, war crimes or human rights violations. Their response is point to the viciousness of insurgents operating in Iraq who have responded to American brutality with a greater brutality of their own.
In other words, the current American government believes it can do whatever it wants and that international laws apply to everyone else but them.
That kind of attitude may appear to be working today. But in the long run, as the Bush administration fades into the sunset and the world continues to document American Marine atrocities, torture and murder, the reality of the civil rights abuses that Americans condoned so arrogantly today will come back to haunt this country.
Only those Americans who stand up and denounce these practices can claim to be true patriots who are defending the essence of American morality from the disease of political expediency and racist hatred.