Tuesday, December 4, 2007


From the Archives

(February 2006) I’ve been staring at the newest Abu Ghraib photographs.

(Yes, the ones that Bush & Co. tried so hard to keep under lock and key.)

The first batch was bad enough, but these are definitely worse. They also confirm that American soldiers beat at least one prisoner to death ... and for what? Loyalty to an administration that’s eager to eliminate anyone who challenges it?
Because they were just following orders, sir?

(But no John Wayne noble soldier bullshit can justify this one, fellas, so don’t even start in on It’s a Grand Ol’ Flag or that old following orders routine.)

What we have is lies on top of manufactured weapons on top of human blood smeared from one end of a holding cell to the other on top of white Muslim asses with bright red cigarette holes burned into them.

(Nothing to wave your stupid yellow ribbons about either, folks.)

So how many Americans do you figure are following what’s really going on at Abu Ghraib, at Gitmo?

It’s time we recognize the necessity of bearing witness to the atrocities that are happening in our time. With our tax dollars. In our name.

You know, I’m a writer and I value words, but I also know that reading a hundred descriptions of abuse did not have the same impact of my seeing one photograph of a real human being reduced to a battered collection of chipped teeth and vomit and feces stains and hematomas all wrapped up in swaths of plastic wrap (to better what? Stew him in his own blood?).

So let that image sink in while you eat your Cheerios, dear readers.

I downloaded some of the images and have been studying them the way I study Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians—in an effort to understand this geometry of atrocity.

I suppose these images are the twenty-first-century version of those black-and-white photos of cops and their dogs attacking nonviolent black protestors or that Vietnamese man who is one second away from getting his brains blown out by a soldier.

... So, yeah, back to my recovering-Seventh-Day-Adventist pal’s question regarding why anyone would voluntarily watch violence.

Here’s what I believe: Artists must walk into the fire with our souls bared and our eyes wide open and feed on the nightmares that are happening in our midst. And we must find a way to use these images—especially the horrific ones—in a manner that makes it impossible for people to hide inside their iPods and ignore what’s being done in their names.

Meanwhile, did anyone else note that this Outsource Everything administration contracted control of our ports to the Arabs?

And did you know that this past Sunday was EVOLUTION SUNDAY?

This little soire didn’t receive the publicity that Frist’s Creationist Sunday event garnered, but Evolution Sunday is part of the Clergy Letter Project—a religious response to fundamentalists’ insistence that real Christians must choose between modern science and their religion.

Turns out over 10,000 ministers disagree with Frist’s fundamentalism. They signed a letter stating that evolution is “a foundational scientific truth” and say that rejecting it “is to deliberately embrace scientific ignorance and transmit such ignorance to our children.”

They also said
We believe that among God’s good gifts are human minds capable of critical thought and that the failure to fully employ this gift is a rejection of the will of our Creator.

The bad news is that most of the signatories are from mainline Protestant denominations, which are shrinking nearly as fast as evangelical fundie churches grow.

And here’s an interesting spin on a vote that actually endorses incorporating intelligent design into South Carolina classroom materials.

John Drake opened his AP article thusly:

COLUMBIA—The Education oversight Committee voted Monday to reject standards for high school biology that deal with teaching evolution and insisted the curriculum incorporate critical analysis.

Now I know you’re probably thinking his “critical analysis” involves evidence-based methodologies, but he’s actually referring to creationism.

And now I’ll end on a personal note.

My triathlete ex Tree just found out that she has a 69 percent chance of surviving for 5 years if she has only radiation treatment and an 81 percent chance of surviving for 5 years if she has chemo and radiation. (She elected for chemo, naturally.)

So please give yourself a breast exam. Today.

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