May 16, 2004

Moral equivalence  

I haven't had a chance yet to comment on the despicable treatment of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib, but I'm seriously disturbed by the comparison with Nick Berg's beheading at the hands of purported al Qaeda operatives. I don't want to minimize the latter tragedy, but the torture at Abu Ghraib is far worse and far more important in the scheme of the war in Iraq, the war on terror, the whole American project.

On the one hand, you have the execution of an American by terrorists, which is hardly surprising given what they've been doing for the past few years. On the other hand, you have the American military abandoning the high moral ground. The fact that you could compare the events at all is a statement about what the American reputation is abroad. Do we really want to be comparing our actions with the atrocities perpetrated by al Qaeda?

After 9/11, many proclaimed the death of moral relativism. Let's hope they were wrong -- because otherwise, we're on the side of evil.


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