Abu Ghraib: Fraternity 'Hazing', a.k.a. 'Not as Bad as Saddam'
|This article is part of SourceWatch
coverage of Abu Ghraib
The alleged acts of brutality, abuse, and torture at the Enemy Prisoner of War Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq apparently have failed to sound a serious note--or appeal to the humanity within--with some, who see these events equal to a Fraternity 'Hazing', a.k.a. 'Not as Bad as Saddam'."
From the headlines
In a May 26, 2004, press release, Media Matters for America announced that Media Matters President and CEO David Brock had "sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld requesting that Secretary Rumsfeld consider removing radio host Rush Limbaugh from the American Forces Radio and Television Service (formerly known as Armed Forces Radio). Limbaugh, whose program is broadcast for one hour per day to U.S. troops overseas, has spent the past four weeks condoning and trivializing the abuse, torture, rape and possible murder of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. guards at the Abu Ghraib prison--gross misconduct that Rumsfeld has described as 'fundamentally un-American'."
MMFA has posted an online petition which visitors to its web site may sign and send "urging Secretary Rumsfeld to remove Limbaugh's show from the network."
The MMFA web site also provides "Gore to Dubya: Condemn Limbaugh," a May 26, 2004, commentary by Al Gore which includes an audio transcript (also in print) of Limbaugh's comments, as well as full transcripts of shows dating from May 3-14, 2004, with Rush Limbaugh's Iraqi prisoner torture comments.
- "Hours before President George W. Bush announced plans to address the Arab world to condemn the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. military personnel at the Abu Ghraib prison, Rush Limbaugh justified the U.S. guards' mistreatment of the Iraqis, stating that they were just 'having a good time,' and that their actions served as an 'emotional release'."
- "On CNBC: Iraqi prison abuses likened to fraternities ... again," Media Matters for America, May 5, 2004:
- "On May 4, the same day that Rush Limbaugh described U.S. military personnel abusing Iraqi prisoners as 'having a good time' and 'blow[ing] some steam off,' Weekly Standard online editor Jonathan V. Last said on CNBC's Dennis Miller that he believed worse things happen in fraternity houses:
- "I hope these guys are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law ... but at the same time, let's not get too crazy and call them Nazi-like. ... Worse happens in frat houses across America ... bad pictures with some guys playing naked Twister. It's bad, but we don't want to get too crazy."
- Dick Meyer, "Rush: MPs Just 'Blowing Off Steam'," CBS News, May 6, 2004:
- "There is one proud and satisfied place where the pictures and accounts of the abuse endured by some prisoners at Abu Ghraib cause no consternation and no outrage: Rush Limbaugh's America, pop. 20 million."
- Alan Wirzbicki, "No Rush," The New Republic, May 6, 2004. (Requires subscription).
- "Hannity & Colmes (April 30, 2004) guest (former U.S. Army sergeant and former interrogation instructor David Robinson) compared U.S. soldiers' maltreatment of Iraqi POWs to 'frat hazing'," Media Matters for America, May 3, 2004.
- Rush Limbaugh, for totally inexplicable reasons, outdid himself on his May 6, 2004, radio show with comments framed in stupidity and obviously calculated to enrage. Some excerpts from that show are: 
- "All right, so we're at war with these people. And they're in a prison where they're being softened up for interrogation. And we hear that the most humiliating thing you can do is make one Arab male disrobe in front of another. Sounds to me like it's pretty thoughtful. Sounds to me in the context of war this is pretty good intimidation -- and especially if you put a woman in front of them and then spread those pictures around the Arab world. And we're sitting here, "Oh my God, they're gonna hate us! Oh no! What are they gonna think of us?" I think maybe the other perspective needs to be at least considered. Maybe they're gonna think we are serious. Maybe they're gonna think we mean it this time. Maybe they're gonna think we're not gonna kowtow to them. Maybe the people who ordered this are pretty smart. Maybe the people who executed this pulled off a brilliant maneuver. Nobody got hurt. Nobody got physically injured. But boy there was a lot of humiliation of people who are trying to kill us -- in ways they hold dear. Sounds pretty effective to me if you look at us in the right context."
- Richard Goldstein, "Don't call it torture. It's just a broomstick up the butt. Stuff Happens!," Village Voice, May 5, 2004.
- Matthew Yglesias comments on May 2, 2004:
- "Why do I keep hearing people point out that what went on at Abu Ghraib under U.S. command wasn't as bad as what Saddam did? Not that it was as bad, but to even raise the comparison bespeaks a very telling insecurity. Gerhard Schroeder doesn't respond to criticisms of his policies by replying: 'Look at what Hitler did!' This is moral relativism of a very strange sort. Where have our standards gone off to? There are many, many, many people sitting in jail in the United States for conduct that doesn't even begin to approach Saddam Hussein levels of badness. And yet I don't see George W. Bush commuting peoples' death sentences to the words, 'hey, it was just murder, not genocide.'
- "When you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you."