The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Thursday, May 06, 2004  

And Rittenhouse Responds

Reader C.F. recently wrote to express her outrage and confusion over the torture, humiliation, and degradation -- and the published photographs thereof -- of Iraqis by American troops in that country.

C.F. said she was as shocked to view these photographs as she was, as a teenager, to see the first images coming from the Germans’ concentration camps after World War II.

She’s right about that, you know. But she’s being politically incorrect. And I’m going to join her in that allegedly egregious fault.

Piling naked Iraqi prisoners upon one another, forcing them to engage in simulated sex acts, and otherwise orchestrating acts of mental and physical torture, and taking smiling photographs of these crimes, is, obviously, disgusting. I can’t imagine any American, except, perhaps, the regularly sadistic contributors to the likes of Little Green Snotballs and, take any comfort in this disgrace, this dangerous disgrace.

But the photographs I have seen of these acts are not only disgusting -- and shocking, appalling, and horrifying -- they remind me, if anything, of nothing other than the Nazis and their sadistic allies, the gratuitously inhumane acts committed in what we used to call “Eastern Europe,” a region now known, for reasons that are becoming sadly all too clear, our “allies” in the “New Europe.”

Yes, I know, comparing the Nazis, the Third Reich, or the Holocaust to anything, anything or anyone whatsoever, even to the slightest degree, even with all the requisite qualifications and hesitations, is forbidden in what passes for “civilized discourse” these days. It’s the comparison that dare not speak its name. But in this particular case, I think -- No, I believe . . . I am certain. -- the comparison is fitting, apt, and valid.

This is not a conclusion I reach easily or lightly, but American troops have been caught acting like Nazis and someone, several people, must be held responsible.

Mr. President, we’re waiting.

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