FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Spc. Sabrina Harmon and Her Corpse

by ADRIEN RAIN BURKE

I just saw a picture of Spc. Sabrina Harmon, posing with a dead body, her gloved thumb up, and a bright, Miss America smile on her wholesome face.

And I am wondering what it means. Is this the sweet all-american smile of a “bad apple?” There is nothing of the vamp or stage murderess in her pose, or her clothes, or expression. If she were wearing white pants and shirt, with a green tie, she’d lcould be a 4-H-er, showing off a prize melon for a seed catalog or almanac.

And yeah, it DOES bother me more that she’s a woman. One of her partners in crime, Spc. Charles Graner, who similarly poses with the corpse, was, after all, a prison guard. I know about prison guards–or I think I do.

But then, I have long held some erroneous ideas about women, I guess. I used to point with pride at the long centuries of female non-participation in the bloodiest and most pointless work of civilization: war. It gave me great satisfaction to know that–in general–women had not made all those wars; had for the most part, not fought in them; and, though the virtue or honor of women was occasionally brought up as a cause or excuse for which men slaughtered each other, we women were never in need of protection. . . . from other women.

In my ignorant bliss, I was pleased to think, less flatteringly perhaps, that women were probably incapable of being organized for war. Like herding cats. They yawn and return to their all-important grooming. Should you become insistent, they dematerialize without apology. No. The innocent amorality of cats is a reproach to this grinning girl grotesque beside her lifeless trophy.

For centuries, woman activists have struggled valiantly for What is Right. Or what they thought was right at the time. Abolition. Suffrage. And end to child labor. Even when they had no legal power at all, they managed to be in the forefront of those impostant human rights campaigns. And, on the downside, Temperance, political correctness, and idiotic non-solutions to crime, like California’s Three Strikes law, which has resulted in life sentences for shoplifting cookies or videos.

Naive women might have been (and it may be that such time-hallowed, hardened institutions as slavery are only ended by naifs.) Foolhardy, in their persistence in achieving the vote, for instance, which quest outlived most of the original fighters. Ah, but they were gallant.And honorable. And humane.

And now this grinning harridan emerges from some unpleasant folktale of heartless womanhood to put an end to any cherished stereotypes of feminine decency.

Where did we go wrong?

Believe me–I opposed the idea of women in combat, or of drafting women to assist in the age-old, ongoing, slaughter. Because I opposed war in general, and the draft as involuntary servitude. In my dreamer’s way, I wanted rather to set men FREE of that old, ultimate tyranny, and I thought–I hoped–that if women were given an equal voice in the affairs of state, some balance would be restored, or brought to the world.

Other women wanted females to prove themselves in combat. To earn their “equality” by shedding blood, by disproving, once and for all, that woman’s biological equipment does not make her more sympathetic, less violent, more peaceable. I knew this. And opposed it. And that is one of the reasons I ultimately abandoned the feminist movement as it exists today in America. I left it for something I thought better and truer, only to be mocked by the triumphant Ms. Harmon, gloating over a miserable corpse.

I worked for a new society in which traditional female values would be honored, and women empowered to contribute some understanding from their own history and culture to male-dominated society. Instead, young women are gleefully taking part in that brutal culture, proud to be “a soldier too.”

“The question he asks, in all but words, is what to make of a diminished thing”. . . . .Robert Frost

I have noticed that if you live long enough, you will see all of your most sacred notions trampled and dishonored. I myself, have lived through times when civic involvement was ridiculed; later I heard young people–too young I thought, to abandon all ideals–parrot “greed is good.” I have lived to hear “Barbara Ann” turned to “Bomb bomb Iran,” and Christian doctrine turned to a bloodthirsty Middle East policy. And I am happy to say I have lived long enough to see another generation of activists rise to struggle against indifference, and avarice, and all the other deadly sins. But they are–as we were–an ungovernable minority. The majority is proud to line up, sound off, and once again, and turn their guns in the wrong direction–against the cooked-up enemy of the day, instead of those who would send them off to fight for plunder and conquest–oil and empire.

But what keeps coming to mind as I see these photos of American, apple-faced kids, rotted in the hothouse atmosphere of a prison into which hooded and dehumanized inmates may disappear forever, is Lawrence Bittaker. Remember him? In the late 70s, he and his accomplice Roy Norris, tortured and murdered women and girls, and filmed their agony and death for later delectation. He took still pictures of his victims and autographed them for fellow inmates (and sold ’em too.) “Pliers” Bittaker was not bright; he–like the prison guards at Abu Ghraib–in obscene, oblivious glee, produced all the evidence needed to convict him. And he was cruel–unbelievably cruel. Like Lynddie, and Sabrina, and their cohorts. And yes, like their superiors–who ordered or ignored or participated in–the evils that were done in our name–in MY name–in the “liberated” nation of Iraq.

I leave it to you to decide just how far up the ladder the responsibility for this ugliness–this American Ugliness–goes. To the top, I’d say. To those who decided that the Geneva Conventions (“GENCONS”) need not be applied to OUR righteous cause. To those who slyly sent captives to foreign countries to be “interrogated”–that their hands would not be seen to bear the beastly bloodstains of the torturer.

And to the bottom, too. To a society that revels in cruel entertainments; in bloody but self-righteous films; in racist, vicious talk about our “enemies”–whoever they may be at the moment. To parents who don’t teach their children not to be cruel to animals, and to disdain those who are “not our kind.” To teachers and coaches who tolerate the jocks’ bullying. To a system content with vast, undemocratic disparities in wealth and education.To everyone who decides that some people are beneath their concern.

And to the women, who dreamed of equality, and settled for shared brutishness. Is this the egalitarian society we dreamed–a desexualized human grid of autonatons in camouflage?

Better a thousand lives chained to a kitchen sink.

ADRIEN RAIN BURKE can be reached at: eandubh@pacificnet.net

Weekend Edition
May 06, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Dave Wagner
When Liberals Run Out of Patience: the Impolite Exile of Seymour Hersh
John Stauber
Strange Bedfellows: the Bizarre Coalition of Kochs, Neocons and Democrats Allied Against Trump and His #FUvoters
Joshua Frank
Afghanistan: Bombing the Land of the Snow Leopard
Bill Martin
Fear of Trump: Annals of Parliamentary Cretinism
Carol Miller
Pretending the Democratic Party Platform Matters
Paul Street
Hey, Bernie, Leave Them Kids Alone
Tamara Pearson
Mexico Already Has a Giant Wall, and a Mining Company Helped to Build It
Dave Lindorff
Bringing the Sanders ‘Revolution’ to Philly’s Streets
Margaret Kimberley
Obama’s Last Gasp Imperialism
Carmelo Ruiz
The New Wave of Repression in Puerto Rico
Jack Denton
Prison Labor Strike in Alabama: “We Will No Longer Contribute to Our Own Oppression”
Jeffrey St. Clair
David Bowie’s 100 Favorite Books, the CounterPunch Connection
David Rosen
Poverty in America: the Deepening Crisis
Pepe Escobar
NATO on Trade, in Europe and Asia, is Doomed
Pete Dolack
Another Goodbye to Democracy if Transatlantic Partnership is Passed
Carla Blank
Prince: Pain and Dance
Josh Hoxie
American Tax Havens: Elites Don’t Have to go to Panama to Hide Their Money–They’ve Got Delaware
Gabriel Rockhill
Media Blackout on Nuit Debout
Barry Lando
Welcome to the Machine World: the Perfect Technological Storm
Hilary Goodfriend
The Wall Street Journal is Playing Dirty in El Salvador, Again
Frank Stricker
Ready for the Coming Assault on Social Security? Five Things Paul Ryan and Friends Don’t Want You to Think About
Robert Gordon
Beyond the Wall: an In-Depth Look at U.S. Immigration Policy
Roger Annis
City at the Heart of the Alberta Tar Sands Burning to the Ground
Simon Jones
RISE: New Politics for a Tired Scotland
Rob Hager
After Indiana: Sanders Wins another Purple State, But Remains Lost in a Haze of Bad Strategy and Rigged Delegate Math
Howard Lisnoff
Father Daniel Berrigan, Anti-war Hero With a Huge Blindspot
Adam Bartley
Australia-China Relations and the Politics of Canberra’s Submarine Deal
Nyla Ali Khan
The Complexity of the Kashmir Issue: “Conflict Can and Should be Handled Constructively
Ramzy Baroud
The Spirit of Nelson Mandela in Palestine: Is His Real Legacy Being Upheld?
Mel Gurtov
North Korea’s New Weapons: Full Speed Ahead?
Alli McCracken - Raed Jarrar
#IsraelSaudi: A Match Made in Hell
George Wuerthner
Working Wilderness and Other Code Words
Robert Koehler
Cowardice and Exoneration in Kunduz
Ron Jacobs
Psychedelic Rangers Extraordinaire
Missy Comley Beattie
It’s a Shit Show!
Kevin Martin
President Obama Should Meet A-Bomb Survivors
David Macaray
Our Best Weapon Is Being Systematically Eliminated
Colin Todhunter
Future Options: From Militarism and Monsanto to Gandhi and Bhaskar Save
Binoy Kampmark
The Trump Train Chugs Along
Thomas Knapp
The End of the Bill of Rights is at Our Fingertips
Cesar Chelala
A Lesson of Auschwitz
John Laforge
Dan Berrigan, 1921 – 2016: “We Haven’t Lost, Because We Haven’t Given Up.”
Norman Trabulsy Jr
John Denver and My 40th High School Reunion
Charles R. Larson
Being Gay in China, Circa 1987
David Yearsley
Skepticism, Irony, and Doubt: Williams on Bach
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail