Not very nice things

by Yule Heibel on May 16, 2004

Don’t know whether I’ll ever get around to writing that “why Goya is really relevant” entry I’ve mentioned a couple of times already — I think it’s kind of redundant now, we are overtaken by current events with such breathtaking alacrity, who cares about history… For now, a pointer to an article I read today (via Wood’s Lot) which presents the best psycho-sexual analysis of Bush’s pious sadism I’ve seen so far: It’s by Susan Block, a rather entrepreneurial sex therapist, and it’s in the May 14 issue of Counterpunch: Bush’s POW Porn.

Am I being too harsh on Dubya in suggesting that these images stem from his personal sexual nature? Perhaps. But I don’t think so. Remember, this is the man who giggled and mocked Karla Faye Tucker, his fellow born-again Christian sentenced to die under his jurisdiction. “Please don’t kill me,” he mimicked in a high girlish voice, pursing his lips and squinting his eyes, seeming to savor the memory of how she’d begged for her life, and, as Governor of Texas, he’d killed her anyway. If we can understand how a U.S. presidential candidate can talk like that in an interview with Talk Magazine, perhaps we can understand why Lynndie and Chuck can grin like that in The Photos.

Remember, this is the American Executioner who, when he was governor of Texas, presided over a record-setting 152 lethal injections. Maybe not as barbaric as lynchings, but you can only push limits so far. This was the son who relished being his dad’s “hatchet man,” especially when he had the pleasure of axing someone suspected of disloyalty. This is the happy gunslinger that gave the CIA authority to assassinate those deemed a threat to U.S. interests, virtually suspending Executive Orders by Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan prohibiting such assassinations. This is the opportunistic autocrat who used the tragedy of 9-11 to relax the CIA and MI’s previous restrictions on using torture, and won’t even call the guys he’s picking up Prisoners of War. This is the definitive chickenhawk who let other men of his generation fight in Vietnam, then sent men and women of his daughters’ generation to invade Iraq. This is the back-slapping bully who celebrated the destruction of a country with a “Mission Accomplished” costume party.

Which brings me to another of Bush’s desperate pronouncements in the wake of the release of The Photos, accompanied by the damning Taguba Report. His ongoing efforts to impress upon the world that his POW Porn is somehow “not American.” So Lynndie and Chuck are Bulgarian?

“Their treatment does not reflect the nature of the American people,” Bush tried to spin like a dervish when The Photos were first unleashed. “That’s not the way we do things in America,” he said. Later he clarified on Al-Hurrah TV, “What took place in that prison does not represent the America that I know.”

Of course, it’s not the America Dubya knew. That’s because even though he did things that would have landed other guys in the can, Poppy’s friends bailed him out before he had to spend any real time in an American prison.

UnCurious George also seems to have never heard of Rodney King, beaten by LAPD on tape, or Abner Louima, sodomized with the business end of a toilet plunger during an NYPD interrogation. Since the Shrub is a proud non-reader, he wouldn’t know that according to U.S. corrections officials, inmates and human rights advocates, the physical and sexual abuse of prisoners, similar to what’s in The Photos, takes place in American prisons every day. This is “the way” some people “do things” at many prisons in America, minus the cameras (so far). Bush should know, since he was governor of Texas, said to have some of the worst, most abusive prisons on Earth. But the only state he seems to govern with any skill is the state of Denial.

Military Intelligence, CIA, mercenaries working for CACI International, and maybe Wolfie and Rummy themselves seem to have directed torture like we see in the Abu Ghraib Photos. But the practices are, for the most part, an extension of the American prison system. Lane McCotter, a contractor who had resigned under pressure as director of the Utah Department of Corrections in 1997 after an inmate died while shackled naked to a restraining chair for 16 hours, was chosen by the Bushies to rebuild Abu Ghraib and train the guards there.

One of the soldiers in The Photos (a segment producer for Bush’s POW Porn), Staff Sgt. Ivan (Chip) Frederick, had worked for six years as a guard for the Virginia Department of Corrections, and was described by his warden as “one of the best.” Scott Bobeck, a special agent in the U.S. Army’s Criminal Investigation Division, testified that Sgt. Frederick and Corporal Grainer “were put in charge because they were civilian prison guards and had knowledge of how things were supposed to be run.” That knowledge came from working in a U.S. prison system that now cages over two million Americans. [More…]

Tomorrow I hope I’ll have time to answer the comments left on some of the other entries, and maybe update the jumbled blogroll. Maria had a great comment on “The many forms of porn” (May 14) that talks about focussing the imagination as a way of resisting its colonisation by ideologues. Really good stuff, lots to think about. I’m thought-out tonight though. I need to recharge my batteries. Finish my yardwork by returning to the fierce embrace of the yews, and somehow simultaneously hit the desk to check math homework, attend to teaching tasks, and to all the other fun stuff that is paperwork. Funny, I keep thinking of a line in AbFab: Eddy telling her daughter Saffie that she doesn’t want more choices, she just wants nicer things.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: