ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Monday, June 20, 2005

The Durb loses the St Louis Post-Dispatch

Looks like an apology from Senator Dick Durbin will be coming out in the next couple of days. If he's losing this base on the issue, he's got to... I'm sure his apology will only go halfway and then turn into another political attack. "I'm sorry, but seriuosly folks... WE'RE TORTURING PEOPLE AND BUSH IS LIKE HITLER!!!"

SEN. RICHARD DURBIN: Wretched excess

SEN. RICHARD DURBIN, D-Ill., engaged in some regrettable hyperbole last week in comparing the U.S. treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the actions of Nazis, Pol Pot and Soviets in their gulags.

The analogy is overblown and intellectually lazy, and the Democratic Senate whip should apologize for it.

Mr. Durbin made the comparison in a generally praiseworthy speech criticizing President George W. Bush for turning his back on the Geneva Conventions and allowing abuse at the Guantanamo prison and Abu Ghraib. Mr. Durbin read an FBI agent's description of prisoners chained in fetal positions, lying in excrement, subjected to extremes of hot and cold.

Then Mr. Durbin added this: "If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags or some mad regime - Pol Pot or others. . . ."

The Nazis, Stalin and Pol Pot exterminated millions of people. The abuse and torture of prisoners is wrong and an insult to U.S. values, as this page has pointed out many times. But it is a far cry from mass murder or genocide.

On Friday, Mr. Durbin retreated half a step. He said he had learned that "historical parallels can be misused and misunderstood," adding, "I sincerely regret if what I said caused anyone to misunderstand my true feelings" that U.S. soldiers deserve respect. That's really not enough. It was he who misspoke, not we who misunderstood.

Mr. Durbin is a passionate advocate with political savvy. Here his passion trumped his better wisdom. But as long as the White House can bat down overheated rhetoric about Nazis and gulags, it can deflect legitimate criticism of its own abandonment of the proud U.S. commitment to justice. The voices of critics need to be heard, but at lower volume.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler