Who’s to Blame?

Timothy Noah over at Slate had an interesting piece on right-wing denial earlier this week. It seems that columnists all over the web have been trying to rationalize the torture and humiliation of Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison. Linda Chavez, that fount of illogical thought, even blamed it on the feminists (!? last time I checked, abuse of prisoners of war and civilians has been going on for thousands of years–I can’t think why suddenly adding women into the combat mix makes feminism responsible for torture). Others are blaming gays, pornographers, and left-wing academics. I think I would count myself in with the academic left crowd (which for right-wing commentators is any college teacher who isn’t a member of the NRA). I cannot think of any classroom situations in which I’ve advocated torture of anyone.

I’ve got a bright idea–why don’t we blame the military? This is, after all, the institution that gave us Tailhook (if anything dehumanized women, that was it). Or, for another example of dehumanizing, one might look to the Air Force Academy. A reported 20% of women cadetsare sexually assaulted during their time there. Some women who were raped were actually ordered to remove their clothes by superior cadets. Sounds eerily familiar, doesn’t it?

It seems to me that the United States Armed Forces has a serious problem that starts at home. This isn’t to say that the vast majority of men and women serving aren’t decent, upstanding people. But one needn’t make up ridiculous sources for the photos we’ve seen on CNN–one need only look at the culture of the armed services.

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