Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Steyn puts Gitmo and Durbin in perspective

Leave it to Mark Steyn, in just a few pithy paragraphs, to expose the idiocies of those who hysterically compare Gitmo with Gulags. After a refreshing paragraph about true "torture" music (the Captain and Tennille's "Muskrat Love" is high on the list), he goes on to say:

By now, one or two readers may be frothing indignantly, "That's not funny! Bush's torture camp at Guantanamo is the gulag of our time, if not of all time." But that's the point. The world divides into those who feel the atrocities at Gitmo "must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others” (in the widely quoted words of Senator Dick Durbin), and the rest of us, for whom the more we hear the specifics of the “atrocities” the funnier they are. They bear the same relation to the gulags (15-30 million dead), the Nazi camps (nine million dead) and the killing fields of Cambodia (two million dead) as Mel Brooks‚ “Springtime For Hitler” does to the original. Nobody complained at Auschwitz that the guards were playing the 78s of The Merry Widow (the Fuhrer’s favorite operetta) with the volume knob too high. When that old KGB hand Yuri Andropov succeeded Brezhnev as the big guy in the Kremlin, he was reported in the western press to be a big Glenn Miller fan. But to the best of my knowledge no-one suggested he was in the basement of the Lubyanka torturing the inmates with “I Got A Gal In Kalamazoo”.
Steyn points out the extraordinary delicacy in our treatment of these jihad warriors, not to mention our own self-abasement:
Again, the more one hears the specifics of the “insensitivity” of the American regime at Guantanamo, the more many of us reckon we’re being way too sensitive. For example, camp guards are under instructions to handle copies of the Koran only when wearing gloves. The reason for this is that the detainees regard infidels as “unclean”. Fair enough, each to his own. But it’s one thing for the Islamists to think infidels are unclean, quite another for the infidels to agree with them. Far from being tortured, the prisoners are being handled literally with kid gloves (or simulated kid-effect gloves). The US military hand each jihadi his complimentary copy of the Koran as delicately as white-gloved butlers bringing His Lordship The Times of London. When I bought a Koran to bone up on Islam a couple of days after 9/11, I didn’t wear gloves to the bookstore. If that’s “disrespectful” to Muslims, tough. You should have thought about that before you allowed your holy book to become the central motivation for global jihad. *** Where the anti-Gitmo crowd went wrong was in expanding its objections from the legal status of the prisoners to the treatment they‚re receiving. By any comparison — ie, not just with Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot — they’re getting better than they deserve. It’s the first gulag in history where the torture victims put on weight. Each prisoner released from Guantanamo receives a new copy of the Koran plus a free pair of blue jeans in his new size: the average detainee puts on 13 pounds during his stay, thanks to the “mustard-baked dill fish”, “baked Tandoori chicken breast” and other delicacies. These and other recipes from the gulag’s kitchen have now been collected by some Internet wags and published as The Gitmo Cookbook.
Durbin's hyperbole, given the real facts, will convince those who wished to be convinced but will, I hope, leave most American's cold -- or disgusted. Of course, all of this is a distraction from the real issue, which is what the US should do with prisoners of war when the war is not against a country, but against an ideology. Wars against countries end at some point, at which point the prisoners are returned to their State of origin. What do you do, though, with an ideological war that has the potential to go on, at a low grade level for years, or decades. I do think the military ought to set up some sort of tribunal and formally try these people. If they're tried and convicted, their continued incarceration will sit much better with Americans -- and we'll relax and allow them to be treated like real prisoners, with lousy food, disrespectful guards who don't handle religious books with gloves, and all the usual degradation that attends real American situations caught up in our prison system. Frankly, I'm surprised that Charles Manson hasn't petitioned to be relocated to Gitmo, instead of sweating it out for yet another decade in San Quentin.