Red White & Blue Hens

College students in Delaware who think right is right, and left is wrong. We study hard, party hard, and play hardball.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Leftists Relive Their Glory Days

Leftists at Harvard are wiping the dust off our Abu Ghraib memories and--brace yourself--running a university-funded theatre production of it. I can't believe I just typed that sentence, more than that, I can't believe it's actually true. Is this really what it has come to? I understand why our enemies would like to keep Abu Ghraib at the forefront of every day life--as if moral transgressions by a few miscreants in a military of over 1 million accurately represent a country or its military--but Harvard students?

The Harvard newspaper reads:

"...the play does what neither the leaked photos, the media reports, nor the military trial have been able to do - namely, to apply invented but plausible identities to the anonymous Iraqi torture victims whose naked bodies have become all-too-familiar over the past year.
In key scenes, the prisoners talk about their past lives, how and why they were captured, and how their consciousness has been changed by the treatment they have received. In some respects, these are the most moving and revelatory scenes in the play because they remind us that these unfortunate individuals have families, friends, careers, personal histories, and, above all, human feelings."

Naturally, the not-surprising sympathetic attitude the article takes towards the play and the prisoners simply has no place for airing the true stories of why those prisoners found themselves in prison. The true story might "unfortunately" tell a story about a prisoner working with fellow terrorists to blow up innocent Iraqis at a recruiting station, or one of an insurgent getting caught setting up a roadside bomb where he would patiently wait to kill American soldiers. That just wouldn't make for good theatre. Why have anything resembling the truth when you can lie through your teeth and turn those prisoners into the most innocent little angels? Much better way to promote anti-Americanism abroad and at home. In the words of the writer himself, Curran Singh wanted the play to be "a serious piece. A call to action." Scary.

Andi does a great job articulating his thoughts on the play here.


  • At 10:05 AM, Blogger spence0422 said…

    Harvard...what is it good for?.....absolutely nothing

  • At 11:08 AM, Blogger M. McKain said…

    Though I agree we shouldn't beat a dead horse too much, I also find it disturbing how so many on the Right are repulsed by any effort to humanize the Iraqis who have been killed, or in this case, tortured. First off, some in the prisons, some who have been killed, are undoubtedly innocent, just as innocent people in the United States are occasionally arrested and even convicted (and yes, executed). The estimated Iraqi body count is climbing to nearly 25,000; I don't think anyone would argue that all of the women and children who were "collateral damage" deserved their fate. In every war, we try to dehumanize "the other," particularly if the enemy is of a different race. From the Jap to the Gook and now the Towel head or whatever, it is easier to kill if you believe the enemy, or the innocents who look like the enemy, are something less than human.

    Certainly, they're not all innocent, and some of those neutralized have gotten what they deserve; however, we signed a convention a long time ago saying that torture is never acceptable. Abu Gharib still lingers because it was a very public reminder that we as Americans are capable of acting in a manner that is no better than those we are fighting. This happens in every war (My Lai, for instance), and in every war it always comes as a shock; undoubtedly, it is the product of the dehumanization of the enemy that takes place. Perhaps that is why those on the Right find this play so mortifying; it is a reminder that we are, in fact, killing human beings, many (but certainly not all) of whom are just trying to live their lives like the rest of us. Indeed, even those who are actively fighting against us, killing their own people, are human, though their version of how to live a human life might be twisted and objectionable to the rest of the world. The play should have shown some balance and included one or two of these cases, though I'm taking your word at this point that it did not.

    Of course Bush and the Republicans want Abu Gharib to just go away...they argue that it was isolated incidents, but that does not explain why the Justice Department felt the need to put out memos explaining why the Geneva Convention does not apply and why torture is legal in some cases. If a general knew, who else was aware of what was going on? Unfortunately, administrations do not investigate themselves very well, so that will probably be a question only historians can answer once documents become declassified.

  • At 2:42 PM, Blogger American Sean said…

    Anti-Americanism at its best....
    People of Harvard, why do you choose to produce a play about a few soldiers gone astray in Abu Ghraib?
    The article quotes "[it] reminds us that these unfortunate individuals have families, friends, careers, personal histories, and, above all, human feelings."

    Let me break down the two choices you could have made for a multimedia theatrical production.

    1. Abu Gharib, the story of a few U.S. miscreants who abused foreign prisoners.
    This story:
    - Characterizes the U.S. military by the actions of a few
    - Promotes the idea that all the prisoners are innocent
    - Promotes the idea that the U.S. has done no good in Iraq
    - Completely disregards the INNOCENT humans tortured by Saddam Hussein
    - Portrays our troops as the only ones committing unspeakable acts.
    - Proves the producers' ignorance to the actions committed by the opposition
    - Promotes Anti-Americanism and slanders our troops still in harm's way
    - Proves the producers' Anti-American bias because the actions of a few Americans is their call to action. Saddam torturing thousands of his own people did not provoke their call to action. Hence, Americans are the only bad guys.

    Or Harvard, you could've chosen option #2

    2. Iraq, the story of tyrannical dictator.
    This story:
    - "Reminds us that these unfortunate individuals [totrtured and murdered by Saddam] have families, friends, careers, personal histories, and, above all, human feelings."
    - Portrays our troops as heros despite the despicable actions of a few
    - Can still tell the prisoner abuse story but show the above-all good our troops have done.
    - Provoke a moral awakening to the treatment received by Saddam
    - Remind us that many of these "unfortunate" prisoners committed unspeakable acts against our troops.
    - Display the hardship our troops have been through
    - Glorifies the American soldiers for their bravery

    Why do you sympathize with the prisoners (whom many are terrorists) before the innocent people killed by Saddam? It's got hypocrisy written all over it.

    Would you produce a play criticizing a few american soldiers for torturing Nazis while the rest of the army was trying to capture Adolf Hitler? No, you'd look like idiots.

  • At 2:49 PM, Blogger Anne Bacca said…

    I say take this university-funded play with a grain of salt--at least it's not on Broadway, right? And does it really shock you that such a big issue in the news such as the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal would eventually make its way into the art arena? I mean, even the depiction of the Scott Peterson trial has already made it to video (and I believe that has happened much more recently.) This often happens during times of war--books, movies, plays, and even music are all written to depict different sides of what is going on or of what has occurred in the world's history. The creation of art is a way to preserve our history--no matter how ugly it is. It is a means of expression and we should not criticize an artist if he/she so decides to create a theater piece out of a tragedy.

  • At 2:58 PM, Blogger Anne Bacca said…

    Actually, Sean, there was a play created to show the Allied soldiers at their worst--and stupidest--during World War II. Not only did it make them seem like lazy bastards, but it also gave the readers a sense of what boredom will do to a man/soldier. In the end, the only sentiment that the reader can be left with is that those men deserved their death. There will always be multiple sides to every story and artists will always find a way to show them (try reading La Squadra Hacia La Muerte, by Sastre.)

  • At 3:32 PM, Blogger American Sean said…

    annebeth, from what i gathered in the article, there was no mention of this being an artistic piece. This was the producers' "Call to Action."

    "There will always be multiple sides to every story." Umm...Yes, this doesn't make proving the argument of one side useless.
    You argued in favor of nothing, only the persuit of art, which in itself is ignorant.

    Also, I would like to know when that play about our Allied soldiers was produced? Was it shown while our troops were still in harm's way? I would be astonished if it was.

  • At 5:35 PM, Blogger Anne Bacca said…

    First of all, James himself quoted the author as stating that this is "a serious [artistic] piece." Second, this play was performed in Madrid in 1945 and "[e]ven though the play was very well accepted by the public, it was forced to close after a three day run because the military authorities felt that the play was anti-military and subversive." Sounds exactly like the way you and James and most of these Republicans react to any sort of free speech in the media. While you may deem yourselves open-minded, when it comes to any opposition, you guys goes straight for the scare tactics and the shutting down of anything anti-American. Part of being an American is having the right to say what you want about what is going on in our country and abroad. The fact that someone at Harvard has created this artistic piece is saying a lot about what the "smarter half" of our country is thinking and feeling.
    As far as me not arguing one side or another, you should realize by now that the stance that I happen to take is one of either being a complete pacifist and trying to silence all hostility or by playing devil's advocate when I know the argument is silly. If you want my opinion, I will give it: I think that it is great that someone has used the arena of art to express their attitudes about this country, about the country that we are (unfortunately) at war with, and about the people that may or may not be innocent prisoners of our military. I believe that this theatrical piece is taking a completely different side than the media or the government would ever give us and trying to look at the war as a (gasp!) big mistake with lots of unfortunate people caught in the middle. Sure, we should be sad that we have troops over there and that our "innocents" have been captured and tortured, but those Iraqis are people, too, not the spawn of Satan (as you would have everyone believe.)
    Your Loving Communist Friend

  • At 5:35 PM, Blogger Jubilant James said…

    Always good to hear your thoughts. Seeing how with the skidfest posts I just reiterated my statements to no avail, I'm gonna keep my reply brief and to the point.
    -No one would argue the innocents killed in Iraq deserved their fate.
    -You speak of dehumanizing the current enemy. Any thing to back that up? I'd love to see any proof of that; however, I'm guessing you're assuming we dehumanize the Iraqis based on dehumanizing the Vietnamese--assuming we did so. As you know I was in Iraq with the military and only attempts to humanize the Iraqis and to treat them with respect were instilled in us. We clearly realize the fate of our mission in Iraq is with the Iraqi people and their hearts and minds. There simply is no institutional dehumanization of the Iraqis. Sorry Mike, I won't let baseless assertions slip by.
    -The reason some on the right are offended when attempts to humanize the enemy are the ones humanizing the enemy are usually the first ones to overlook the enemies' wrongdoing while highlighting our wrongdoings and putting them on an equal footing. See Ted Kennedy, who after the Abu Ghraib scandal said something similar to how the torture chambers of Saddam have only changed management--US management. Obviously a ridiculous assertion, unless you consider mass graves to be on an equal footing with the improprieties committed by the US at Abu Ghraib. Second, an ulterior motive is usually at work, generally stirring up anti-American sentiment as is clearly the case here, hence the producer's desire for his play to be a "call to action."
    -In reality, it doesn't really matter if the prisoners were innocent or barbaric murderers. What the particular US soldiers did there was dead wrong.
    -Focusing on the personal plight of those involved in the war, whether it be a US family of a killed soldier or an Iraqi family whose father/husband was killed by an errant US missle, as proof the war is unjustified distracts you from the context of the war and the greater good it is intended for. I'm not sure if this is related to the post at all but it came out anyway.
    -Also, I am not familiar with the actualy context of the play. Considering Harvard wouldn't let FOXNews videotape it, I'll only be hearing about it. Call me crazy for assuming the prisoners are portrayed in a positive light, but I think I'm onto something.

  • At 6:00 PM, Blogger Jubilant James said…

    Suzanne, or AnneBeth,
    Thanks for having the courage to not post as "anonymous" anymore. Considering you deem Castro the saviour of the Cuban people, once asked me "What's the big deal about 9/11?," gave the finger to a Marines commercial, and countless other out-to-lunch doings, I really don't consider anything you say politically as worthy of a response. As I laugh off the extremity off Ann Coulter's views, I do the same with your political views, which basically stem from the sophisticated philosophy of "America sucks and anything we do is wrong." Stop with such ridiculous slander accusing Sean and I heading "straight for the scare tactics and the shutting down of anything anti-American." I've never said the government should shut down any anti-American speech, including the right to burn the flag. Quit hearing what you want to hear so you can paint anyone you disagree with as extreme and hear what is actually being said.

    "The fact that someone at Harvard has created this artistic piece is saying a lot about what the 'smarter half' of our country is thinking and feeling."

    HAHAHAH. I'm really speechless. I never tire of hearing leftists declaring their intellectual supremacy--half the country apparently--simply because they hold opposing political views, especially when it's in regard to daydreaming about Abu Ghraib. Brilliant! At least have the common sense to realize someone disagreeing with you is not the result of an intelligence deficiency.

  • At 6:12 PM, Blogger M. McKain said…

    I have nothing but respect for the efforts of our troops to improve the lives of the Iraqis; I know a lot of good is being done, much of it without receiving the publicity it deserves. That said, however, I have talked to other soldiers who have been there who said Iraqis, at least the insurgents, but often in general, were referred to by names such as "ragheads," "towlies," etc. To do this is to dehumanize to a degree, just as a "gook" was a "gook," friend or foe, in Vietnam. I cannot assert it is widespread, but I've heard it from several people.

    Focusing in individuals to humanize the war is as old as art itself, from plays to novels to movies. This play, in spite of the authors intended stated purpose, is first and foremost an artistic endeavor.

    I would certainly not put our wrongdoing on an equal level with those of the enemy, but I think the reason many slip into this trap is because we feel that America should be held to a higher standard. We're the dominant "advanced" power, and it makes us look like bullies when we overstep our boundaries. We point this out and criticize this to try to prevent it from happening in the future, because it hurts our reputation every time it does. This is not "stirring up Anti-American sentiment," but a patriotic attempt to hold this country to the highest standards possible, because we are, in the end, the greatest country on earth.

  • At 8:16 PM, Blogger American Sean said…

    Thanks mike,
    Your 3rd paragraph made me think for a little bit and re-examing my original position. You said this was "a patriotic attempt to hold this country to the highest standards possible, because we are, in the end, the greatest country on earth." Interesting.

    So i thought and thought and re-read Harvard's article and came to my conclusion.

    It is too typical of the let's only criticize America trend. The first thing Currun Singh produces is themed Americans bad, prisoners unfortunate Whats the problem with criticizing our few bad apples here? The audience is given half a story. Yes, what they did was wrong. Yes, we should be held to a higher standard. So i almost completely agree with your 3rd paragraph. Yes, this tragedy should be pointed out, but with fairness. What about Iraqi soldiers beheading Americans and their allies(some being journalists)? The opposition has done some pretty harsh things themselves. No, this does not make the Abu Ghraib situation excusable or justified. However when you're isolating the event from the rest of the Iraq war and making American soldiers the victimizers, you have conveyed your idea of Americans bad, prisoners unfortunate. The so called patriotic attempt to prove we need to hold ourselves to higher standards is lost in translation. Instead you go home feeling ashamed you're associated with America.

    Portraying the crimes committed by BOTH sides would more effectively prove that sometimes we are no better than the opposition (if this is even Currun Singh's point, which i doubt it is). Currun Singh's intent is a call to action. The audience's emotional reaction is not going to be one of 'lets be better about treating prisoners for now on', it's going to be "The American troops are doing awful things" That's what emotionally charged situations cause.

    There is your anti-American sentiment because the audience is left with no hope of the positive impact Americans can make. I may be jumping ahead of myself considering the play has not even been displayed yet (hah), Although I gather this conclusion from the article. "If they come out slightly uncomfortable, shocked, and motivated to action, that will be what we're aiming for."

    Of all the tragedies that have occurred in Iraq, Harvard's students wish only to show one, a one sided view that provokes a call to action. Americans bad

  • At 10:41 AM, Blogger M. McKain said…

    If those who see the play come out motivated to lobby the administration for a fairer treatment of prisoners because we're America and we can do better then it CAN be a good thing. Obviously, I cannot speak to the motivation of the writers of this piece, nor of how the audience will react. Discussing the bad we do, along with the good (which yes, is too oft buried with the other stuff) is part of the important public dialogue concerning whether or not the war was worthwhile. Such a dialogue is critical in a democratic society, particularly when one party is in power in all aspects of government.

    In the end, however, I will concede that I can only speak for myself and my own feelings, which tend to be rather moderate and wholeheartedly pro-American. I can admit that there are fringe liberals who are outside of that realm, but many of them do not even associate with the Democratic Party (yeah, we've been called Conservatives....go figure).

  • At 11:28 AM, Blogger Anne Bacca said…

    Don't worry, this will be my last attempt at blogging since you are so quick to shut down whatever I have to say without hearing my opinion. Some parting advice (if I may): Since you write on here to try to portray yourself as some high-minded individual with a gift for political banter, then try to avoid adding in your own personal issues with the person with whom you are debating. Taking something I may have said (as a joke or even 10 months ago--shortly after my experiences in Cuba) is irresponsible "journalism" and irrelevant to the point I was trying to defend. Oh, and for future reference, slander is spoken insult/injury and LIBEL is written insult/injury (which is what I have inflicted upon you.) :-) Good luck with your future blogs, fellas!

  • At 4:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    how were the Abu graib miscreants (Guards) caught?

    Their fellow soldier turned them in. (not the lefty media or amnesty international)

    how did the pictures make it to the media?

    The defense lawyers for the miscreants thought they could muddy the watters enough to get thier clients off the hook. They had all been gharged before the photo's were published.


  • At 4:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Art is made to be criticised.


  • At 12:45 PM, Blogger Jubilant James said…

    Hey Mike,
    I'm surprised you didn't hear from your soldier buddies of the name "Haji." That was the most widespread of nicknames for the Iraqis, although it was a bit presumptuous on our our part; a "Haji" is someone who has already made the pilgramage to Mecca. But I totally disagree withyour correlation of nicknaming as being equal to dehumanizing, even to a certain degree. While I'm sure there are those soldiers who spit out the word "towelhead" with a palpable level of spite in their voice, most just get tired of saying the word Iraqi. I promise you, even those who use what you consider to be dehumanizing nicknames have made a few good Iraqi friends and would be offended to think that some assume they are dehumanizing the Iraqis.

  • At 12:45 PM, Blogger Jubilant James said… using nicknames.


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