Friday, September 29, 2006

Torturing POWs. Now and Then.

If you had to choose (if you really had to) would you rather be a prisoner of the Americans in "the war on terror", where you'll be tortured, brutalized, sodomized, humiliated, and left with no hope of ever being released, even if you're innocent...

... or would you rather be held by the Germans in WWII, where you'll put on a fully staged production of the hit Broadway play "The Man Who Came to Dinner"?

This picture comes from a British website devoted to RAF veterans' memories of WWII.

Here's what I find disorienting:

-This is not a "staged" propaganda pic, this event actually happened along with several other theater productions.

-This is not like a secret radio hidden under a floorboard. One does not smuggle an upright piano, an electric bass, trombones, trumpets, saxophones, and a whole string section back into camp from the daytime work detail in your "body cavities". This had to have happened with the full knowledge and assistance of the camp Kommandant.

-The women you see on stage are men in drag. Go look at the pic of the jazz band they put together and you'll see men as the "girl singers". And according to an account on that site, they were pretty good at it.

-The Germans used to call Britain "The land without music". (There was even a poster in the 1930's touting Germany as "The land WITH music.") But those Brits must have had some musical currents running in their daily lives if they could pull this sort of talent just from downed bomber crews.

-What a strange moral compass the Nazis had. On the one hand, their British and American captives tended to get approximate "Geneva Convention" treatment. POWs from the Soviet Union, if not immediately killed, were sent to horrifying slave labor camps.

-And where is our moral compass pointing, with our treatment of prisoners heading toward the savage end of the scale rather than the humane end?

I'm sure that being in a POW camp is unpleasant, no matter who your captors are; but isn't it disappointing that this comparison can even be made today? For at least 150 years America has promoted itself as the gold standard of decency and justice. Who will ever trust us again?

1 comment:

Zach Brewster-Geisz said...

I woke up today to read that the Senate had passed the bill. I can't fathom that we now live in a country where it is legal to imprison people indefinitely without trial, not to mention that torture is legal too.

I can't comprehend what has happened to the United States.