Jewish World Review June 7, 2005/ 29 Iyar,
The sawdust trail at Guantanamo
Maybe the U.S. Government shouldn't be in the revival business at Guantanamo in the first place. Why shouldn't the prophet's followers furnish their own sawdust?
The official line of the Pander Corps appears to be, different strokes for different folks. A crucifix in urine, the Virgin Mary in elephant dung, is High Art, but if someone accidentally steps on a Koran it's time to haul out the guillotine.
The Pentagon's generals are investigating accusations that certain officers at the Air Force Academy have been conducting Christian revival meetings among the cadets. If they determine that the Air Force is instructing cadets in the doctrines of the Westminster Confession or the finer points of the Heidelberg Catechism, instead of teaching the handling characteristics of the F-16 fighter-bomber or the killing power of the 500-pound bunkerbuster, somebody in Colorado Springs will be in trouble. He ought to be.
On the other hand, someone at the Pentagon has authorized the purchase of hundreds of copies of the Koran, prayer rugs and other accouterments of the Islamic faith, all to encourage the Guantanamo terrorists to pursue such holiness as they may find in the doctrines of the prophet. The president rightly tells us to respect the right of Muslims to honor the Koran as their holy book it's the American way, after all even as we puzzle over how so many followers of a "religion of peace" could behead so many innocents, butcher so many women and dismember so many children, all in the name of Allah.
It's always a good thing to remind prison wardens that someone is watching what they do; the people who run prisons and work in them are only rarely the kindest and most compassionate folks in the neighborhood. But the frightened old women who are forever wringing their hands over whether the killers, muggers, rapists and assorted other homicidal maniacs on the loose in the name of Allah are happy in their confinement stretch the limits of the patience of the rest of us. If the Koran must be treated with such care as to be untouched by anyone but the killers, muggers, rapists and other maniacs at the prison, maybe the Koran ought not to be there in the first place: "What's a nice book like you doing in a joint like this?"
Our generation has only one speed, pedal to the metal, particularly when we don't know where we're going. Amnesty International, headed by a Muslim (for whatever relevance that may have) accused the White House of running a "gulag" at Guantanamo, which only reveals the ignorance of history, law and language at the higher echelons of Amnesty. After George W. Bush rightly called the accusation "absurd," the director of the American branch of Amnesty conceded that well, actually, they don't really know what's going on at Gitmo.
"Greatest generation" or not, our fathers and grandfathers were not so enlightened as we are. They did not think to build Shinto shrines in the camps they built to hold Japanese prisoners of war, nor did it occur to them to supply German prisoners with their very own copies of "Mein Kampf."
In an annual exercise of political incorrectness squared, several dozen descendants of Confederate soldiers gathered Sunday afternoon at Arlington National Cemetery to observe Confederate Memorial Day and to pay their respects to the memory of Jefferson Davis. The Rev. Dr. Gil Watson, the eloquent senior pastor of the Northside United Methodist Church in Atlanta, offered the eulogy to the men asleep under the grass beneath his feet and reminded everyone of how the U.S. Government can abuse prisoners when it really, really wants to.
"Jefferson Davis was captured ... in Georgia and transported to Fortress Monroe, Va.," he recalled, "and chained in a damp cell. For two years he was tortured and denied the most humane rights. He had absolutely no privacy, was kept in an open casemate where guards and the curious were allowed to watch him like a caged lion. The light was kept burning 24 hours a day, giving him virtually no rest until after many months his wife was allowed to make a mask for him to enable him to get fitful sleep. ... Even a packed jury could not find one thread of evidence to support [the charges against him]. General Grant had General Lee's indictment removed but Jefferson Davis waited two years to go to trial to defend himself."
For this the Washington government won wild applause. A year at Guantanamo, circa 2005, would have been a day at the beach, with or without a holy book.
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JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.
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