An blog by a member of the Catholic peace movement, Pax Christi, to explore the nexus between contemplation and resistance. "The Christian must discover in contemplation, and in the giving of his life, those symbolic actions which will ignite the people's faith to resist injustice with their whole lives, lives coming together as a united force of truth and thus releasing the liberating power of the God within them." - James Douglass, Contemplation and Resistance.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Crossing the Line


"Darrell Anderson went AWOL after serving a tour in Baghdad and Najaf. According to Darrell, standard 'procedure' for U.S. troops in Iraq who were fired on in a public space was to shoot everyone in sight. As Darrell put it, 'It is impossible to go to war, and not commit war crimes.'"

"He also recounted his thoughts as he guarded two Iraqi detainees after a long firefight. 'I was exhausted, I had shrapnel in my side, and the blood of my best friend on my uniform,' said Darrel. 'I had been in this hell for four months, and here I am in a room with my weapon, and two of our enemies shackled and hooded. They weren’t humans to me. I wanted revenge. I’m just glad I didn’t cross the line.'

But many soldiers do cross the line. Iraq war veteran Chanan Suarez Díaz described a platoon known for 'unleashing hell' on Iraqi civilians. In the mess hall, they would brag about 'massacring whole families,' Chanan testified."

The main job of the corporate media with regard to war-related reporting is to decontaminate stories such as these so that their explosive political potential can be neutralized. These stories will normally only be reported if it is somehow forced into public attention by an individual act of courage, as in the case of Haditha or Abu Ghraib. If there is an accidental spill of this kind, the news media acts as clean-up crew to reverse its potential effects by recontextualizing it, often by emphasizing minor legalistic issues so as to obscure the major thrust. The same applies to stories such as the Libby trial, which will be formatted as much as possible toward its entertainment possibilities, while serious issues will invariably be reduced to legal quibbles so as to divert the thrust of moral outrage into a dry dispute.

As Christians, we should begin our penance in reparation for these crimes as soon as we hear about them.

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