Wednesday, June 21, 2006

How should one respond to the news that American servicemen were tortured and beheaded by insurgents?

Obviously, are first response is compassion for the soldiers who were victimized, their families, and all the soldiers who are at risk for simlar treatment.

Another way would be to cry for revenge -- if this is the type of enemy we are facing, then we need to be ruthless ourselves.

Of course, we know that's not the right way to respond. The Gospel teaches us not to return violence for violence.

But there is a worse response.

Yes, when some learn about an incident like this, their first response is to give those who have been against the US government being involved with torture about 5 seconds to react, and if they do not do so acceptably in that time, lambast them for their inconsistency. Examples: Instapundit and a correspondent to Mark Shea.

This type of argument rankles me in so many ways. Those who play this game simultaneously make the following claims:

  • Al-Qaida is such an extraordinarily threatening and brutal operation, that our understood standards for just wars and treatment of enemy combatants shouldn't apply. Anyone who says otherwise doesn't understand the magnitude of the threat that is before us. This is a completely different kind of threat, demanding a completely different response.
  • People should react to atrocities committed by Al-Qaida with the same level of response as stories about American abuse and torture. They should be held to the same moral standard.

Do you see the slipperiness here? You dragged us to war but beating us over the head about how uniquely evil these people are, then you expect us to be shocked when they actually commit evil acts? Please.

InstaPundit writes:

And yet Guantanamo will get more ink. And, again, the argument is that it's a man-bites-dog story when Al Qaeda tortures -- but that's belied by the moral equivalence that we keep seeing in the coverage.

See, I don't want us to ever get to the point where "Americans torture detainees" also becomes a "dog bites man" story. What InstaPundit calls moral equivalence is actually a gross dis-equivalnce. Americans are held to a higher standard than Al-Quaida is.

May it ever be so.
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