Well, I think I have survived the holiday weekend. Whew! I have been buried in school work and job work and such, so I have been a baaaad blogger lately. Nothing like taking a twelve week course in five weeks to keep you on your toes. I'm actually kind of bummed that I took Sociology in the summer now 'cause I love this class. I think it would have been way cooler to have taken it in the fall when I could really enjoy it and not feel like I'm sprinting through the book. I'm down to mostly science and math courses now, though and I know I can't hack an accelerated math course. Yikes!
So, dear readers, what the hell has been going on in the last week or so? Here's a little headline out of the New York Times that I couldn't help but notice a few days ago:
"G.I.'s Investigated in Slayings of 4 and Rape in Iraq"
Nice, huh? It seems that four of our servicemen allegedly attacked a young woman, killed her and her family then burned her body in an effort to cover up the crime back in March. You can read the article here. Apparently these men are from the same unit as the two soldiers who were abducted in early June and found dead and mutilated, their bodies left on the side of a road that was infested with hidden explosives. (shudder) One of the soldiers from the unit revealed what he knew about the rape and killings after that incident. Perhaps he thought the two might be connected. I can't imagine why.
What an incredibly sad and tragic mess. I usually don't write about Iraq because it's just so controversial and we all have very passionate feelings about the situation. I think we can all agree, however, that there is something very wrong going on when good people do horrific things. I have family members who have fought in Iraq and I don't think this is the kind of thing any of them would would want to see. The guys I've met who were there were proud of their work and the time they spent there. Whatever I may believe about the motivations for this particular war, I really do believe you have to support the troops who are over there. And no, I don't see a disparity in condemning the decision, but defending those whose job it is to carry it out.
The government will probably try to pass this off as another one of those "a few bad apples" things, but I just don't buy it. After the Abu Garhib mess they tried to use that kind of reasoning to justify what happened and it just doesn't gel. I mean you've got good people with impeccable service records, never been in trouble a day in their lives and all of a sudden they're torturing prisoners and/or allegedly raping and murdering people. I don't think so. I am not saying it is an excuse, but we certainly have to consider the pressures of life in a combat zone and the culture of the military as factors.
For example, we were just studying about this sociologist Prof. Phillip Zimbardo and the Stanford Prison Experiment that he performed back in the 70s. He took a bunch of regular college kids and randomly divided them up into two groups, prisoners and guards. They staged mock arrests of the "prisoners", brought them to a fake jail set up in the basement of the psychology building, assigned them numbers and gave them all the same "prison" uniform. They took the "guards" and gave them all mirrored sunglasses, sticks, handcuffs and other symbolically powerful items. Guess what happened? After only a few days the fake guards started to abuse the fake prisoners. They made the prisoners do humiliating things and generally enjoyed picking on these people who they would have hung out with a week before. The "prisoners" started to have emotional breakdowns.
My point is, if regular college kids can start to develop sadistic tendencies after only six days of a prison experiment, perhaps we should not just be looking at the individuals involved in these terrible incidents. If the institutions are set up in a way that somehow encourages and/or condones the rape and murder of a young woman and her family (or the inhumane treatment of prisoners) then we really need to rethink the institutions. It's so easy to arrest a couple of soldiers and have a trial, then declare that we are good people for having taken care of the situation. But, have we really taken care of the root of the problem?
Unfortunately I think there will be a lot more rapes and Goddess knows what else before the powers that be figure out what the folks at Stanford learned back in 1971.
Note: I could not find the name of the artist for the picture at the beginning of the post. However, I linked to the website I found it on. You can click on the picture to see the original website.