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Mar 23 2008

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Were you there?

 “Disturbing” is the understatement of this Happy Easter.  Here are a few excerpts that really jumped out at me as I read the article (see below):

 He was naked, and the position he was in — his hands bound behind his back and raised higher than his shoulders, forcing him to bend forward with his head bowed and his weight suspended from his wrists — is known as a “Palestinian hanging,” because it is said to be used in Israeli prisons.

 …

 …she faulted herself for not being a more enthusiastic soldier when prisoners on Tier 1A were being given the business. When she was asked how other M.P.s could go at it without apparent inhibition, all she could say was “They’re more patriotic.”

 …

 It was easier to be nice to the women and children on Tier 1B, but, Harman said, “It was kind of sad that they even had to be there.” The youngest prisoner on the tier was just ten years old — “a little kid,” she said. “He could have fit through the bars, he was so little.” Like a number of the other kids and of the women there, he was being held as a pawn in the military’s effort to capture or break his father.

 Of course, the dominant symbol of Western civilization is the figure of a nearly naked man, tortured to death —- or, more simply, the torture implement itself, the cross. But our pictures of the savage death of Jesus are the product of religious imagination and idealization. In reality, he must have been ghastly to behold. Had there been cameras at Calvary, would twenty centuries of believers have been moved to hang photographs of the scene on their altarpieces and in their homes?

 Now, as much as I’d like to believe that Jesus personally spoke to Prince George and instructed him to work out his unrequited homoerotic/sadomasochistic urges on the people of Iraq, it seems more likely that anyone who reads the New Yorker account of this poor, twisted girl who documented the awful truth of Abu Ghraib will come away with a profound sense of shame and disgust that we, too (patriotic Americans that we are), were there when they crucified our Lord (as the old Negro spiritual captured it so perfectly).  It causes me to tremble,

________________________________

From: Philip
Sent: Sunday, March 23, 2008 4:38 PM
Subject: Annals of War: Exposure: Reporting & Essays: The New Yorker

This was a fascinating and disturbing New Yorker article coming suitable and ironically at Easter.  

 This past Friday, before I read the article, I went to see a performance of Jesus Christ: Superstar, as one of my library staff members was playing the character of Peter.  As I watched the section where Jesus is tortured, then crucified, I thought about what was done at Abu Gharib in the name of security and protection.  Then I came home and read the article which is based mostly on the letters of Sabrina Harmon who took many of the pictures that documented the horrors that were being committed by our soldiers.

 http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/03/24/080324fa_fact_gourevitch/?yrail

 Errol Morris, who coauthored the article in the NY, will be releasing a movie, Standard Operating Procedure in late April which will generate a great deal of pain, discussion and reflection for those who go to see it.

 http://www.sonyclassics.com/standardoperatingprocedure/site.html

 Phil

Permanent link to this article: http://levantium.com/2008/03/23/were-you-there/

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