The press is abuzz over two big stories these days. First, George W. Bush thinks it's ok to "interpret"the Geneva Conventions sacred Article 3, which states, basically, torture is a no-no, in his own unique way. He'd like it to evolve, so to speak, to allow for rough treatment of those prisoners who have information we need to stop terrorist acts. Protect American citizens etc. Now you can define torture however you like and still leave room, I think, for blasting rock & roll music, leaving lights on extra bright, making them sit on floors colder than doctor's examination tables and even the occasional slap in the face (provided it be done in a haughty and defensive manner and is followed by a CIA agent running to his room to call mother). But John McCain and Colin Powell are afraid that if we allow Wet Willies on jihadists it'll give Iran or others the cover they need to give Atomic Wedgies and Swirlies to our troops taken prisoner. America ought to lead by example and all that. Beautiful sentiment.
Changing gears for a second, the other hot topic this week is the Pope ticking off a number of the Islamic persuasion by suggesting (say it ain't so) that Islam has a history of violence in the name of promoting the faith and converting the heathen masses. I know, I know. I didn't expect any kind of overreaction either, but some have argued that perhaps Pope Benedict ought to check his own religion's history, then bow and scrape his way to Mecca or face the divine sword of Allah, peace be upon him. Others are trying to defend Benedict by interpreting his words in umpteen different ways, insisting he meant no offense and it just sort of slipped out. Didn't even know you guys were listening.
Both of these debates raise the same point regarding the deference we pay to our Islamist counterparts. For some reason we keep expecting our shining American/Western example of justice and fairness, tarnished though it may occasionally be, to matter one iota to our enemies in Iran, Iraq or anywhere else. Our "torture" techniques might be worthy of criticism, but do you really think it'll matter to those who consider beheadings reasonable treatment? These people do not require us to lower our standards of behavior first. They're already so far below our worst standards, only a moral imbecile could possibly claim the lines are getting blurred. Pretending to be appalled by Bush's attempt at a looser interpretation of the Geneva Conventions (avert your eyes from this sacred text if you know what's good for you and you've seen Raider Of The Lost Ark) without a caveat so fucking big Michael Moore would mistake it for lunch is nonsense in high heels.
At the same time, I don't often rush to the defend statements made by anyone in a hat that funny and I won't start now. Even if he's right, do we really need the extra heat right now. No. But please spare me the indignation coming from the "Arab Street" right now. "We are not violent, and I'll cut your tongue out if you say it again." This is laughable, but does anyone think that if only Pope Benedict would hold his tongue these kinds of ridiculous threats would disappear? They abound these days, and yet every time it happens the press rushes to pick nits over whatever some Westerner said or did to provoke them. I don't care if the College of Cardinals did a drive-by "pressed ham" through the streets of Tehran, get the hell over it you self-righteous, overly sensitive, excuse making jerkoffs.
Maybe we should go the other way with it and just have Bush and Cheney start saying "The bombing will begin in five minutes" and all kinds of other ridiculous shit to provoke the hell out of the Middle East. They're going to be offended no matter what we say, they're going to kill and brutalize anyone they get their hands on with or without Gitmo and Abu Ghraib, so what does it really matter. And the smallest fraction of Europe is going to side with us no matter what, if Tony Blair is really such a Bush lap dog, while the rest are just as determined to find evil at the root of whatever we do. Why waste all the energy trying to "set an example for the world."
Like giving advice: that which is never taken, shouldn't be offered.