Tags: America | Wrongly | Maligned | for | Treatment | Prisoners

America Wrongly Maligned for Treatment of Prisoners

Monday, 30 May 2005 12:00 AM

Egypt's Nasser obliged. He stupidly closed the Straits of Tiran, an international waterway. Legally that's as much an act of war as bombing Pearl Harbor. Israel then exploded outward, taking Sinai, Gaza, the West Bank and the Golan Heights.

So, here was the Arab mayor archly stating his "terms for peace" and there were all the reporters dutifully taking notes. After the mayor was through stating his terms for peace, Sidney broke the silence by asking, "Your Honor, what would your terms have been if you'd won?"

Back to the unforgettable conversation. They were talking about the inevitability of corruption at the top of city government. The unanimous cynicism got to me. "Wait a minute," I interrupted. "There are some good people here, too. Take me, for instance. Suppose I were elected and I embraced as my one and only priority to eliminate, extirpate, smash and destroy corruption at City Hall and put all the corrupt ones in jail. What then?"

"I'll tell you what then," Sidney said. "If they thought you really meant it, the most corrupt ones around you would get together and frame YOU on corruption charges and put YOU in jail!"

Some call that "education." Unlike most education, this one went through me like Serbian plum brandy, a baseball-sized pellet of Japanese wasabi mustard plus a small tub of Korean kimchee. In other words, I "got" it! But it took thirty years, until now, for me to use it.

It was as if God had appeared to me in a Stone Age cave and handed me a screwdriver and said, "You don't know what this is, but hang onto it for thirty years and you'll understand it when I bring you some screws!"

What Sidney Zion said the boys of City Hall would do if a dangerously honest mayor came along is EXACTLY WHAT THE WORLD IS DOING TO AMERICA NOW BY BRANDING US THE WORST OF ALL THE HUMAN RIGHTS OFFENDERS! (Except maybe Sudan!) Is this or is this not Sid Zion's warning come true?

Understand first that the world looks down upon America with the utmost envy. And the envious know how to power-dive like pelicans from high altitude smack into tasty little pieces of garbage floating in the ocean. And the fact – the merging facts – that we detain captives at Guantanamo, Cuba, and Bagram, Afghanistan, and those captives are trained to complain about American disrespect to Islam, whether real or fancied, and America does its level best to eliminate all such disrespect and our free population is free to raise hell and put a chunk under it about that treatment – this adds up to more than a few tasty bits of garbage. We've got a Sargasso Sea of so much garbage you can hardly see the water.

Before America commits its first infraction of human rights against detainees, we've got a Home Depot of Hatred busy 24/7. Whoever hates America – whether foreign or domestic – can simply drop by and pick up all the anti-American poison he wants and spill it, spray it, or slather it on to the desired thickness thanks to America's freedoms.

So, Amnesty International points the bony finger of indignation and declares America at the bottom of the human rights barrel. And the International Committee of the Red Cross (NOT to be confused with the American Red Cross!) isn't far behind.

Two losing presidential candidates of the 20th century gave us great lines. Al Smith in 1928 gave us "Let's look at the record" and Bob Dole in 1996 gave us "Where's the outrage?" Both are appropriate now.

Looking at the record, we see millions of enemy mothers in war-torn Europe begging their sons to "head west and surrender to the AMERICANS!" (Not the Soviets!) Our reputation for humanitarian treatment of EVERYBODY was one of the planet's blessings during World War II.

In the 1970s I happened to be in a limo with the West German ambassador to the United Nations as he went to JFK Airport to pick up his boss, the foreign minister of West Germany. On the way back to Manhattan they were talking, not to the American media and not for the record. They were just two Germans, who both happened to have been prisoners of war of the Americans, reminiscing. They were both still overwhelmed by the – not CORRECTNESS, but the sheer niceness, the MAGNIFICENCE of their treatment.

It wasn't just that they were handled gently, made warm, made comfortable, treated medically exactly as the wounded Americans were, and well fed. The German foreign minister marveled that on his first night of captivity the Americans fed them SAUERKRAUT! In the middle of things like the Battle of the Bulge, tailoring the prisoner-of-war menu to the ethnic tastes of their captives made America instantly the most-favored enemy in all European history since they lived in trees and painted their faces blue.

There was a marvelous moment in a (true) History Channel show about the closing days of World War II. An American intelligence operative behind German lines was saved by an uncharacteristically sloppy Nazi inspection of a house that the enemy knew he'd recently used as a hideout. A few hours later the Americans had overrun the German town, and the Gestapo chief who'd been trying to trap the American operative was standing with his hands up in the same living room he'd failed to inspect thoroughly. (Can you believe the American agent was hiding UNDER THE COUCH? And the Gestapo didn‘t find him!)

"Take me," pleaded the Gestapo man. "Take me, but please don't harm my family!"

"Harm your FAMILY! What the hell do you think we are?" thundered the American officer. "Nazis?"

Being accused of being the new Nazis on the world scene should make all American co-palpitate a little with Israel. When an Israeli soldier commits a crime and harms an Arab without cause, he is arrested, tried and, if convicted, punished by the Israeli authorities. There is no such mechanism or modality anywhere in the Arab world. There is, instead, the literal tearing apart of any Israeli soldier unfortunate enough to fall into the hands of Arab mobs.

Every Arab writer, spokesman, diplomat, journalist, businessman, government official, leader and falafel peddler knows that's true. Yet I don't recall one single instance of any Arab ever admitting it and certainly no Arab ever VOLUNTEERING such a necessary bit of flattery to the other side. And that is damnable, because it literally dams up the juices of healing that should be flowing through the Middle East.

So, back now to Sidney Zion and the impaling of the innocent by the coalition of the guilty. We're now treated to something called the "United Nations Human Rights Commission." America's not on it. But cheer up: The Global Diplomats have assuaged our disappointment by installing Libya, Sudan, Syria and Cuba on the Commission to make sure human rights get a fair shake on Planet Earth.

I've often thought of how I could handle being in jail. I concluded I could do a lot better if I could come to the realization that I was, indeed, guilty. Knowing I was not guilty would be triple hell!

So it's triple hell now, realizing we're at the tippy top of the class worldwide throughout history in our treatment of prisoners, enemies and international bad guys in general, and yet our "reviews" are "Americans are the new Nazis!"

Maybe this world just doesn't yet know how to handle an America.

There's a kind of reader I respect, though I could never expect respect from him. He's the one who, having read the foregoing, will say, "Mr. Farber, don't you know your American authorities have admitted that two Afghans in detention at Bagram died after being repeatedly struck by guards and, furthermore, Army investigators initially recommended closing the case without bring any criminal charges? And THAT, Mr. Farber, you dismiss as ‘tasty bits of garbage floating in the ocean'!"

Sorry. Those two deaths are an irredeemable tragedy. The "tasty bits of garbage" refers to those lesser-unsubstantiated allegations leveled by those whose terrorist manuals ORDER them to level charges of abuse when in American hands. Give the terrorists credit. They know exactly which buttons to push when they're lucky enough to be in the hands of a humanitarian democratic captor.

By the way, you'll have to concede that those initial recommendations of the Army investigators to forget the whole thing didn't get very far, did they?

And if you're a REAL anti-American, and not just a camp-following groupie parakeeting the anti-American line, you'll know that those two deaths of detainees at Bagram triggered a TWO-YEAR investigation involving 250 interviews worldwide generating over two thousand documents, all of which has now led to charges or probably-cause findings against TWENTY-SEVEN military police guards and military police interrogators, with crimes ranging from involuntary manslaughter to lying to investigators.

Hey, you accusers! You know that as surely as the literate Arab knows the blistering moral superiority of the Israelis. Why do you not speak it forth? Why do you need ME to provide the Rest of the Story?

You half-a-loaf critics of the U.S. remind me of the factory worker who confronted his boss and said: "Hey. Your computer gypped me out of eighty dollars on my last paycheck."

"I'll look into it," said the boss.

The next day the boss said to the worker: "You know, you're right. Our computer did indeed knock eighty dollars off your paycheck last week. However, as we looked back a bit, we noticed that same computer gave you eighty dollars too much eight weeks ago. Isn't that true?"

"Yes," admitted the worker.

"You didn't complain about it at that time, did you?"

"Oh, no," said the worker.

"Why not?" asked the boss.

"Well," said the worker. "One mistake I can forgive, but not two!"


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Egypt's Nasser obliged.He stupidly closed the Straits of Tiran, an international waterway.Legally that's as much an act of war as bombing Pearl Harbor.Israel then exploded outward, taking Sinai, Gaza, the West Bank and the Golan Heights. So, here was the Arab mayor archly...
Monday, 30 May 2005 12:00 AM
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