Torture at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq? It’s no different than fraternity hazing. Or so declares the king of reactionary radio, Rush Limbaugh.
Beating and killing Iraqi detainees, according to Limbaugh, is good fun. “I’m talking about people having a good time, these people [CIA agents and MPs at Abu Ghraib], you ever heard of emotional release? You heard of need to blow some steam off?” Limbaugh asked a caller. “This is no different than what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation and we’re going to ruin people’s lives over it and we’re going to hamper our military effort, and then we are going to really hammer them because they had a good time.”
Limbaugh is attracted to people who torture. On his May 3 show, the loudmouth drug addict said “have you people noticed who the torturers are? Women! The babes! The babes are meting out the torture.”
Limbaugh is talking about Spec. Sabrina D. Harman, a military police officer who has been charged with abusing detainees at Abu Ghraib. Harman is now probably the world’s most infamous dominatrix of sadomasochism. She took her orders from Army military intelligence officers, CIA operatives, and civilian contractors who conducted brutal, Israeli-styled interrogations. She is accused of photographing dead Iraqis, posing with corpses, striking several prisoners by jumping on them as they lay in a pile, writing “rapeist” on a prisoner’s leg, and attaching wires to a prisoner’s hands and penis while he stood on a box with head covered.
Most of us would likely find Harman seriously deranged and in need of years of psychological treatment. But Limbaugh finds her and Pfc. Lynndie England attractive. England is featured in many of the torture photos. In one, she smiles happily with a cigarette clenched between in her teeth as she points at a hooded Iraqi man’s private parts. England’s boyfriend, Sgt. Charles Graner, is a former prison guard with a history of domestic violence. None of this bothers Rush. On the contrary, Harman and England are patriotic Americans innocently engaged in “good old American pornography,” as Limbaugh said on May 6.
More like “good old American” snuff films.
In fact, for Limbaugh, torture is a good thing. It builds character. Americans are too squeamish, too wimpy, unable to face up to the neocon plan of total war against Muslims and Arabs, a war Bush has promised will last for generations. “I think a lot of the American culture is being feminized. I think the reaction to the stupid torture is an example of the feminization of this country,” he told his audience. In other words, if torturing people makes you sick you’re effeminate, or maybe French. Get used to it, Rush seems to be saying, there’s more where that came from.
For Rush and the neocons, it’s all about humiliating and torturing as many Arabs as possible. “It could well be that the whole purpose here, which has been said, was to humiliate these prisoners. And there’s no better way of doing it than what was done. These are Arab males — what better way to humiliate them than to have a woman have authority over them? What’s the purpose here? What’s the objective of this? The objective is to soften them up for interrogation later, later on. As I said, there was no horror, there was no terror there was no death, there was no injuries, nothing.” Never mind that people were killed — and photographed by Limbaugh’s centerfold, Spec. Sabrina D. Harman. The point Rush is making is that Arabs are untermenschen, sub-humans, and they do not experience horror and injury the same way Americans do. It’s okay to saddle up a 70 year old Iraqi woman with a harness and ride her around like a donkey because Arabs are immune to terror and abuse.
Finally, you’d think Bush, given the chance, would distance himself from Limbaugh’s obvious sadism and racism. But no, instead White House press secretary Scott McClellan refused to go on the record and condemn Limbaugh. Here’s how McClellan responded during a news conference:
Q: Scott, there’s a segment of society that differs with the White House as it relates to these pictures and the investigation of the U.S. soldiers’ conduct to include Rush Limbaugh who, Tuesday, agreed with the caller, equating the pictures to a college fraternity prank, and said the U.S. soldiers should not be punished because it was an emotional release as they were letting off steam. What’s the White House say about that?
MR. McCLELLAN: April, I think the White House says what we said yesterday and what the President has said over the last few days.
Q: No, but Scott — no, seriously. This man is a conservative —
MR. McCLELLAN: And I actually got asked a question earlier today about that matter.
Q: But none —
MR. McCLELLAN: And I addressed it then.
Q: But if you stand out strongly trying to let the Arab world know that this is wrong and then you have the proverbial spokesperson for the conservative party saying this, doesn’t that send a mixed message?
MR. McCLELLAN: The President’s views have been very — have been made very clear.
Indeed, Bush’s views are clear — and they are the views of the neocon rabble in the Pentagon and ensconced deep within conspiratorial neocon foundations: this is a war against Islam and the Arabs, at the behest of Likudite whack jobs and Christian Zionists. Bush has “apologized” for the depravity of Abu Ghraib — an apology not accepted by Arabs who understand his sincere motivations and those of the neocons — but only because there is an election right around the corner. It can be stated without much doubt that Bush supports whatever plan the CIA and the Pentagon come up with to defeat the Iraqi resistance — including torture. For a man who mocked the anguished plea of a death row inmate in Texas and killed more than 10,000 innocent Iraqis under false pretenses, the humiliation and beating death of a few Iraqis cannot be of much concern.
Rush Limbaugh, on the other hand, is free to say what Bush most certainly thinks but cannot say if he wants another four years in the White House.
KURT NIMMO is a photographer and multimedia developer in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Visit his excellent no holds barred blog at www.kurtnimmo.com/blogger.html . Nimmo is a contributor to Cockburn and St. Clair’s, The Politics of Anti-Semitism. A collection of his essays for CounterPunch, Another Day in the Empire, is now available from Dandelion Books.
He can be reached at: email@example.com