On Our Number One Export

The Torture Roundup for tonight:

« A pregnant Lynddie England gets hung out to dry ». She’s been turned into the face of American torture by the media and the military, her family is angry at the military, angry at Bush and in denial and she herself is back home and pregnant. The New York Times goes into exhaustive detail here about her personal life; detail which I haven’t seen on any of the male participants. Coming at the same time as Ann-thrax Coulter and other Fascist pundits’ blaming the torture and abuse of Iraqis on women in the military specifically and feminism generally, it’s an interesting phenomenon.

« A different view of Private England » and the place where she hailed from:

‘Lynndie England, 21, a rail worker’s daughter, comes from a trailer park in Fort Ashby, West Virginia, which locals proudly call “a backwoods world”. She faces a court martial, but at home she is toasted as a hero. At the dingy Corner Club Saloon they think she has done nothing wrong. “A lot of people here think they ought to just blow up the whole of Iraq,” Colleen Kesner said. “To the country boys here, if you’re a different nationality, a different race, you’re sub-human. That’s the way girls like Lynndie are raised. “Tormenting Iraqis, in her mind, would be no different from shooting a turkey. Every season here you’re hunting something. Over there, they’re hunting Iraqis.” In Fort Ashby, in the isolated Appalachian mountains 260km west of Washington, the poor, barely-educated and almost all-white population talk openly about an active Ku Klux Klan presence.’
The Daily Telegraph

Which brings up a rather interesting and disturbing point; in George W. Bush’s Amurrican Empire, despite his protestations to contrary, it is not at all unAmerican to support torture and eye-for-an-eye. The entire rightwing Fascist chorus doesn’t think this is a big deal at all; their attitude was summed up thusly:

‘A colleague of Lynndie’s father said people in Fort Ashby were sick of the whingeing. “We just had an 18-year-old from round here killed by the Iraqis,” he said. “We went there to help the jackasses and they started blowing us up. Lynndie didn’t kill ‘em, she didn’t cut ‘em up. She should have shot some of the suckers.”’

That’s a pretty succinct summation. And of course, torture and prisoner abuse is not only not unAmerican, it’s long been very much the American Way all over the world and in the heart of the Empire itself, in places like Parchman and Angola and San Quentin and McAlester and Huntsville, etc. While the Boy Emperor was the provincial governor of the Republic of Texas, the prison system spent most of his time in office under judicial consent decrees, a situation replicated in 39 other state prison systems. A judge wrote about the Texas system:

‘Many inmates credibly testified to the existence of violence, rape and extortion in the prison system and about their own suffering from such abysmal conditions.’

The judge imposed the decree after learning that Texas prison guards were allowing inmate gangs to buy and sell other inmates as sex slaves.

It’s simply a fact that this kind of thing is a very American as The New York Times article (from which the quote above comes) noted:

‘Physical and sexual abuse of prisoners, similar to what has been uncovered in Iraq, takes place in American prisons with little public knowledge or concern, according to corrections officials, inmates and human rights advocates. In Pennsylvania and some other states, inmates are routinely stripped in front of other inmates before being moved to a new prison or a new unit within their prison. In Arizona, male inmates at the Maricopa County jail in Phoenix are made to wear women’s pink underwear as a form of humiliation. At Virginia’s Wallens Ridge maximum security prison, new inmates have reported being forced to wear black hoods, in theory to keep them from spitting on guards, and said they were often beaten and cursed at by guards and made to crawl.’

In fact, America’s penal system can be directly connected to Abu Ghraib:

‘The experts also point out that the man who directed the reopening of the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq last year and trained the guards there resigned under pressure as director of the Utah Department of Corrections in 1997 after an inmate died while shackled to a restraining chair for 16 hours. The inmate, who suffered from schizophrenia, was kept naked the whole time. The Utah official, Lane McCotter, later became an executive of a private prison company, one of whose jails was under investigation by the Justice Department when he was sent to Iraq as part of a team of prison officials, judges, prosecutors and police chiefs picked by Attorney General John Ashcroft to rebuild the country’s criminal justice system. Mr. McCotter, 63, is director of business development for Management & Training Corporation, a Utah-based firm that says it is the third-largest private prison company, operating 13 prisons. In 2003, the company’s operation of the Santa Fe jail was criticized by the Justice Department and the New Mexico Department of Corrections for unsafe conditions and lack of medical care for inmates. No further action was taken.’

He claims to have left Iraq after Abu Ghraib was reopened and has washed his hands of more recent events. But it really doesn’t matter. Instead of exporting freedom, liberty, democracy and our traditions of civil rights, Constitutional due process of law, respect for justice and so on, we’ve exported our arrogance, our violence and our prison system.

But that’s okay. The Cabal is circling the wagons. Fascist pundits are on the case, and « now a soldier has been trotted out to say ‘it ain’t that bigga deal »:

‘Arevalo said he was angered by the reports of prisoner abuse because he felt that soldiers at his compound were doing a good job. Arevalo said he even made a point of being friendly and talking to the prisoners, including one Iranian prisoner who used to tell soldiers off in English and Arabic. “We prided ourselves on keeping prisoners in control, and after that came out, I was somewhat disappointed,” he said. “It’s not the whole army’s fault. It’s two people who were bored or something. Just a few bad apples.”’

Yeah, he’s one of the good Germans, er, I mean Americans. Maybe some Iraqis will send him some rose petals …