BLOODY HELL, but I am fed up with the racism and the homophobia and the misogyny and all the other hate-based ‘isms’ behind an endless stream of hate-based comments posted by rightwingnuts on Facebook and in the Comments sections of otherwise decent websites. I want a Hate Free Zone!
Now we have to wade through their foul comments fueled by their latest preoccupation, Islamaphobia!!! I want a Hate Free Zone!
The conscience is the part of the mind that makes you aware of your actions as being morally right or wrong.
The conscience is the part of the mind that makes you aware of your actions as being morally right or wrong.
That’s how I should have started this article when I first wrote it and posted it twenty-four hours ago—with anger and vulgarity!
Instead I kept a rein on my emotions and began with “In the era of Saddam Hussein” (below) and now it’s too late: unless I want to delete this article entirely and start all over again!
Which I am not going to do!
This piece will stand as it and I will write a second, complementary article that will open with “Fookin’ Bloody Hell” instead of “Bloody Fookin’ Hell” and will build on this article.
And now, before we get to the original beginning of this article as it was posted yesterday, I wanted a humorous image here to inform you that this is rant is not entirely vituperative, but will include some softer moments . . .
This manipulated photo presents us with a Star Wars analogy: the head of President Bush has been superimposed onto the figure from the Empire. Many historians are of the opinion that Dubya was more interested in ’empire building’ in the Middle East than in righting wrongs. We are supposed to assume that Vice President Dick Cheney is behind Darth Vader’s mask.
Seymour Hersh on torture
“In the era of Saddam Hussein, Abu Ghraib, twenty miles west of Baghdad, was one of the world’s most notorious prisons, with torture, weekly executions, and vile living conditions.
As many as fifty thousand men and women—no accurate count is possible—were jammed into Abu Ghraib at one time, in twelve-by-twelve-foot cells that were little more than human holding pits.”
That was the opening paragraph to Seymour Hersh’s damning article “Torture at Abu Ghraib” that appeared in the May 10, 2004, edition of The New Yorker magazine. The article was sub-titled “American soldiers brutalized Iraqis. How far up does the responsibility go?”
American soldiers brutalized and tortured Iraqi civilians. How far up the chain of command does the responsibility go?
Hersh is not waffling here: the article addresses the Army’s own investigation of Iraq and determined that there had been “systematic and illegal abuse of detainees” that involved “sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses” at Abu Ghraib.
Needless to say, nothing was done to investigate these heinous accusations during the rest of the Bush administration (2004–2008).
Of course, it occurred on their watch, with or without their awareness.
And, um, they’re the Rep*blicans, y’know.
Unfortunately, nothing was done to investigate these heinous accusations during the Obama administration (2009–2015 and counting).
They’re the Democrats—you know, the opposition party—and proving these atrocities and linking them to members of the Bush administration would make them war criminals. Now despite the vast political capital it could be worth the Dems in elections for years to come, nothing has been done or will be done.
Rather than another tired image of Darth Vader, here is Jack Kirby’s Darkseid, ruler of the planet Apokolips. Patterned after Adolf Hitler, Darkseid’s goal is to conquer the universe and eliminate free will. He first appeared in Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #134 (November 1970). Readers of Kirby’s Fourth Word books tend to believe that Darth Vader was inspired by Darkseid, and that George Lucas lifted many other images and themes from Kirby for his Star Wars series. Some Kirby readers believe that Dick Cheney was also inspired by and patterned after Darkseid.
Our own Darth Vader
So the question as to who knew what—or worse, who approved what—is left hanging, bothering Americans of conscience. We have to live with what appears to be overwhelming amounts of evidence of apparently systemic physical and mental abuse of helpless captives in Iraq in 2003–2004. 1
How far up the chain of command this awareness and consent went has never been examined, although there has been years of speculation that it can be traced to former Vice President Richard ‘Dick’ Cheney—our own homegrown Darth Vader.
This photo accompanied Mr Hersh’s article. It was supposedly was taken at Abu Ghraib of an Iraqi who was hooded, had electrodes attached to his fingers, and left to stand for hours on a box. He was told that if he fell off the box he would be electrocuted. 2
Godless heathen scum!
Perhaps no longer: the December 14, 2015, issue of the Truthout newsletter carried an article titled “Court Rules Bush Administration Can Be Sued for Its “War on Terror” Conduct.” Credited to The Daily Take Team and the Thom Hartmann Program, there was an arresting illustration just below the bylines with this caption:
“Everyone who authorized and participated in the illegal roundup of hundreds of innocent men after 9/11, from high-up government officials on down, is now fair game for a lawsuit.”
I thought, Bravo! To put words in Forrest Gump’s mouth, “Torture is as torture does!”
But as I sated above, nothing has been done about these accusations. Hell, it’s not even a topic of conversation in the mainstream corporate media! And if you bring the questions up to those voters who cast their ballots for Rep*blican candidates, they have a handful of quick, easy replies:
1) “There was no torture, there were enhanced interrogation techniques!”
2) “There was no torture, but even if there was then it was necessary to protect American lives here in the good old US of A!”
3) “There was no torture, but even if there was, it doesn’t matter because the administration cannot be held accountable because they were only doing what they thought best to protect us from godless heathen scum!” 3
Now the courts are saying otherwise.
“When we make mistakes, we must calm the cognitive dissonance that jars our feelings of self-worth. And so we create fictions that absolve us of responsibility, restoring our belief that we are smart, moral, and right—a belief that often keeps us on a course that is dumb, immoral, and wrong.” I have been recommending this book to anyone and everyone for years and now I’m recommending it to you! 4
Only a soft-headed liberal
So I posted a link to the Truthout piece on my Facebook page with this caption: “I nominate Darryl Issa and Trey Gowdy to aim their sights in this direction for a few months.” That was it: eighteen words. No flippancy. No political wisecracks.
But both Issa and Gowdy chaired Congressional committees that investigated the alleged lies of former Secretary of State Clinton regarding the Benghazi disaster (in 2012 and 2015, respectively).
There is virtually no evidence to support these allegations and, especially in Gowdy’s case, there had already been several previous Congressional investigations.
Each concluding there had been no wrongdoing and no cover-up, just tactical errors.
I have been recommending “Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me)” for years and now I’m recommending it to you.
To my Facebook posting I received the following comment from a “conservative” “friend”:
“Only a soft-headed liberal can come up with this warped perspective. Nineteen Muslim terrorists hijack airplanes crashing them into the World Trade Center and The Pentagon, resulting in the deaths of 3,000+ innocent civilians.
And the crybaby liberals are more concerned about the ‘rights’ of terrorists. I say waterboard the sons of bitches until they talk. A little waterboarding and profiling of Muslims is far less an ordeal than what they put their terror victims through.”
The level of ignorance in this one paragraph should be mind-boggling, but it’s not. Unfortunately, it’s typical of the mindset of the rightwingnuts who run rampage over comments sections in social media all over the Internet. 5
In fact, according to sociologists Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson in their book Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me), the more facts that are presented to “believers” that disproves their beliefs, the stronger they will cling to those beliefs.
Artist Jerm IX used a large map of Vancouver, BC, affixed to a wall to declare his city a hate free zone.
A rightwingnut-hate free zone
So instead of doing what I have so fruitlessly done time and again—engage this person in a conversation about facts—I opted for a very different response. And this response was based almost entirely on the vilely vicious “waterboard the sons of bitches until they talk” statement:
• I declared my Facebook timeline to be a “Rightwingnut Hate Free Zone” declaring I would unfriend anyone who espoused hatred and violence on my page.
• I declared that this would apply to any one of any political stripe if they got nasty and mean-spirited.
• I “unfriended” this person and several others of his ilk. This means that his posts no longer appear on my Facebook timeline nor do mine appear on his.
This latter was done as an attempt at bi-partisanship, a term in the US that means attempts by the Dems to get the Rep*blicans to agree to something anything to get a bill passed.
Like any self-proclaimed democracy, the United States can and should be a moral force for good in the world.
It was also practically unnecessary, as almost all the nastiness that appears on my timeline is from the Radical Right.
So I don’t appear to be patting myself on the back for some great achievement, I realize that this could appear to be a bit of grandstanding. It was intended to be. But if enough people on Facebook tossed these vile tossers (British slang, look it up) off their timelines, the level of social discourse would improve dramatically. 6
Plus, I now no longer have to sip my Trader Joe’s Dark French Roast with a dollop of that company’s mesquite honey (please make an appropriate yummy noise in your head here) and read the rants of racist, homophobic, misogynistic misanthropes on my timeline again!
Seymour Myron “Sy” Hersh is an investigative journalist and a regular contributor to The New Yorker. He first gained recognition in 1969 for exposing the My Lai Massacre and its cover-up during the Vietnam War, for which he received the 1970 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting. He is a five-time Polk winner who has also won two National Magazine Awards and the 2004 George Orwell Award.
A moral force for good
Seymour Hersh ends “Torture at Abu Ghraib” with a call-to-righteous-arms, one which has of course gone unheeded for more than ten years:
“Obviously, the Obama administration doesn’t exactly have a stellar record when it comes to the ‘war on terror’ either, the drone wars being just one example. But even so, the Bush administration still bears the ultimate responsibility for taking our country down the path we’re still on a full decade-and-half after 9/11.
And that’s why we need to prosecute everyone in Bush administration who participated in these crimes—Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Ashcroft—I mean everyone, right now.
Like any self-proclaimed democracy, the United States can and should be a moral force for good in the world. But it can’t be one when it lets the biggest war criminals in its history get off scot-free.
The decision by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals allowing lawsuits against people like former Attorney General John Ashcroft is a step in the right direction. It opens up a new path for our country, a path that offers us the chance for a national redemption of sorts.”
To which I say, “Amen, indeed!” as I sip my yummy coffee . . .
HEADER IMAGE: The image at the top of this page is from the article “Court Rules Bush Administration Can Be Sued for Its “War on Terror” Conduct” on the Truthout website (December 14, 2015) and attributed there to Lance Page.
1 One’s conscience is defined as “the part of the mind that makes you aware of your actions as being either morally right or wrong” and “a feeling that something you have done is morally wrong.” Americans like to believe that we as a group excel in this department, despite the fact that the rest of the world—the other six billion human beings that inhabit the planet with us—tend to think the opposite.
2 Yes, it appears that the wires from the electrodes on the captive’s fingers are not connected to a source of electricity, therefore the man cannot be tortured—but he doesn’t know that!
3 I use commiepinkofagbastard as a joke concerning the terms that righties have traditionally used as insults against lefties. I’ve been called much worse in my time.
In 1991, President Bush told us that our ally Saddam Hussein was not only no longer our ally but was a bad, bad man. And this bad, bad man had one of the largest modern armies in the world and that it was battle-hardened and that we had to take him and them out and that it wouldn’t be easy and so we invaded Iraq on questionable legal grounds and in fact the invasion was a walk in the park!
4 Lifted from a blurb from the book’s publisher: “Why do people dodge responsibility when things fall apart? Why the parade of public figures unable to own up when they screw up? Why the endless marital quarrels over who is right? Why can we see hypocrisy in others but not in ourselves? Are we all liars? Or do we really believe the stories we tell?
Renowned social psychologists Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson take a compelling look into how the brain is wired for self-justification. When we make mistakes, we must calm the cognitive dissonance that jars our feelings of self-worth. And so we create fictions that absolve us of responsibility, restoring our belief that we are smart, moral, and right —a belief that often keeps us on a course that is dumb, immoral, and wrong.
Backed by years of research and delivered in lively, energetic prose, Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me) offers a fascinating explanation of self-deception—how it works, the harm it can cause, and how we can overcome it.”
5 For example, according to the official explanation for the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, of the nineteen hijackers, none were Iraqi (our supposed enemy); fifteen were Saudi Arabian (our supposed ally). Yet we attacked a country that had no hand in the attacks and remain allies with the country that should at the very least have been implicated!
6 I frequently find myself visiting news sites where there are calls from regular readers to toss all the rightwingnut commenters off the site, as they seem bent on disrupting intelligent conversation with condescension, insults, and general trolling. In fact, rightwingnut trolls are becoming a topic of conversation all over the Internet . . .
In 2001, President Bush told us that the bad, bad man had been even badder by hiding or building or buying weapons of mass destruction and that we had to take him and them out and that the invasion would be a walk in the park and so we invaded Iraq on questionable legal grounds and in fact the invasion was a walk in the park—and fifteen years later we are still walking through that park!
POSTSCRIPT: Everything in this essay was written in the wee small hours of Friday night/Saturday morning, and originally posted at 5:24 this morning. Later, as Berni and I were sitting with friends at out Saturday morning coffee klatch, I started thinking Bloody fookin’ bloody hell! but the introductory paragraphs above were too damn tame!
So I came home and started rewriting the intro and then kept pounding the keyboard and soon I had too many words to simply tack onto this piece so now I am turning them into a separate essay as a complement this one which I will post tomorrow!
The manifestation of the bully on the Internet in the form of a troll is a topic of concern to me. The anonymity of the troll is especially scary: you get to be a bully and no one knows who you are and there are no repercussions! To read more, type “bullies” into the SEARCH box on the home page of this site.