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Right Intention: A contrast in styles

Thursday, October 28, 2004

A contrast in styles

Think our treatment of Gitmo detainees is the height of evil? Maybe it's time to contrast our style with our enemy's style.

We: Capture the enemy on the battlefield and put them somewhere safe - arguably the safest place on earth from their perspective. Let them pray. Feed them three meals a day. Give them clean clothes and a place to sleep. Occassionally, give them a formal hearing and let them go so they can fight us again.

They: Capture the unarmed enemy on the battlefield, lay them down on their stomachs and shoot them in the back of the head.

We: Go to extreme lengths to minimize civilian casualties. Take fire rather than engage the enemy in situations where high civilian casualties could occur.

They: Capture unarmed civilians and make them beg for their lives on videotape. After a view days or weeks of torture, behead them slowly with a kitchen knife and post the video clip on your website.

We: Fight for a free democratic Iraq.

They: Kill anyone, civilian, soldier, Iraqi, American, it doesn't matter, anyone who wants freedom and democracy in Iraq.

A contrast, ultimately, between a free and civilized society and pure, unadulterated evil.


Blogger d0g3n said...

I'm not sure your argument is valid. The fact that the nebulous "enemy" does things that are wrong does not validate our approach. Saying that it does is like saying "it is OK for me to rob a bank, since other people commit murder."
Also, I don't remember anyone except for the fringe right saying that our treatment of prisoners is "the height of evil," and then only as hyperbole in their political rhetoric.
Using terms like "evil" to characterize the opponent serves well if our goal is to render them as caricatures, but doing so limits useful dialogue. A perfect example is that of Adolf Hitler, who is widely used as the ultimate example if "evil." As true as that may be, reducing Hitler, Al Quaeda, or Sadaam to a one-dimensional figure makes it difficult to look for the causes of their behavior--and without understanding the sources of "evil" it is impossible for us to prevent it from arising in the future.
The question this raises is this: is the goal of your message to present logical arguments in favor of your position and thereby convince those with opposing viewpoints, or is the goal to present emotional triggers to help you maintain your own validation of your opinion?

4:48 PM  

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