Tuesday, June 07, 2005

OWH Calls for More Bad News from Iraq

by Kyle Michaelis
In a baffling editorial that contradicts they and their ideological counterparts' usual calls for more focus on the "good" happening in Iraq since the U.S. invasion began, the Sunday Omaha World-Herald took this convenient swipe at the ACLU:
The American Civil Liberties Union is waging an all-out campaign to get the courts to make public more pictures of prisoner abuse from Abu Ghraib.

Meanwhile, the government of Iraq says Sunni Muslim terrorists are responsible for the deaths of 12,000 Iraqis in the past 18 months, most of the victims being Shiite Muslims.

This juxtapositioning is in no way meant to disparage the ACLU's commitment to openness. Indeed, the organization's campaign for public disclosure seems an improvement over a few months ago when it went to court in Nebraska asking that the press be muzzled.

Keeping the graduation scene free of prayer can be a lot of work even without adding the task of making sure the American people get every last lurid detail of detainee mistreatment at Abu Ghraib.

But note the differing levels of outrage in the broader population over the admittedly dismaying abuse of detainees when compared with the relentless reports of innocent and courageous Iraqis being slaughtered because they wanted to build a better Iraq.

Out-of-control interrogators at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, we are told, insulted detainees by belittling their religion or desecrating its symbols. This makes detainees and their advocates really, really angry.

Twelve thousand of our Iraqi friends are dead, most of them Shiites, killed by Sunni terrorists. That's the greater religious travesty. Demand for more photos of these atrocities, last we heard, has not materialized. That's a pity. Words alone have apparently not conveyed the outrage.

I'm sure someone at the World-Herald thought they were being very clever trying to make the ACLU seem hypocritical and petty, especially in light of their none-too-subtle, still fresh resentment of ACLU attempts in a Nebraska court case to protect the families (hence, identities) of those who have dared to challenge the constitutionality of prayer at public school graduations from press exposure. All in all, though, this is one of the sillier, most counter-productive editorials I've yet seen from the World-Herald. It is almost genius in its incompetence.

Note the tone of mockery and obvious disdain for the ACLUs Abu Ghraib efforts. This attempt to even the score with the ACLU, however - under any critical light - is a clear victory for the ACLUs cause.

The call for disclosure of the full range of abuse committed by U.S. soldiers in Iraq is, first and foremost, a call for more openness and honesty in all matters relating to the continuing Iraqi conflict. This entails documentation of prisoner abuse just the same as pictures of our brave soldiers' flag-draped coffins kept hidden from view by the Bush Administration or, yes, honest accounts of the destruction in the wake of this scourge of terrorism that, there's no denying, we played a primary role in unleashing on the Iraqi people.

The only difference is that the faces of the Iraqi dead are not being hidden from view by government but rather by the press. This is not a violation of civil rights, the ACLUs domain. Instead, it is a violation of the public's trust by the corporate media. For the World-Herald to attack the ACLU for the press' failure to provide accurate coverage is an insult to logic in every way. It's like a dentist pointing fingers at his barber for giving him a cavity - an utterly ridiculous claim.

If it's outrage at the suffering of the Iraqi people that the World-Herald wants, it should start by apologizing for trying to use their pain for political grand-standing. This editorial has no feeling for the dead. It does nothing to humanize them or make them any more real to American readers. It only seeks to gain points off them at the expense of an adversary - both shameless and immoral in this time of war.


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