Posts Tagged 'hitler'

This Week’s Links (6/1/08)

My regular culling from the internets:

Global warming marks another victim: nivicolous hominis or the snowman. What is this world coming to? [h/t Joan]

Why I love the internet: Young Hilary Clinton. [via Americablog]

For some reason, people have been sending me a lot of furry videos. Here, here and here. Warning: while not exactly NSFW, it probably will make you feel unclean. [h/t Ted]

Adolf Hitler was such a fan of Snow White that he reportedly offered Walt Disney any price to make movies in Germany. Disney refusal is either a good or bad thing depending on your feelings towards Disneyland. I’m ambivalent. A Norwegian archive dug up these drawing by der Fuhrer himself.

There’s this news of a homeless woman who lived secretly in a man’s closet for over a year in Japan.

Is Indiana Jones a pinko? [via Boingboing]

Standard Operating Procedure (2008)

One of the perks of working at my current job is that I get to watch free advanced movie screenings. The other day I watched Erroll MorrisStandard Operating Procedure. While his last film Fog of War, which I think is a masterpiece, examines a failed American war from the point of view of its architect, Robert McNamara, this film looks at one of the most embarrassing moments of this current failed American war — Abu Ghraib. Morris essentially allows the US Servicemen and women involved to give the context (and often rationalization) for each of the famed pictures. In his typical modernist way, Morris gives the viewer few objective handles to judge the interviewees stories.

What worked brilliantly in Fog of War falters here. The music (Danny Elfman channeling Philip Glass) is too bombastic, the graphics (done by my former employer Kyle Cooper) are too slick, and Morris’ trademark reenactments are too beautiful for the subject matter. The pictures are horrific and the servicemen and women are too raw and conflicted to justify such an overblown approach.

That being said, Standard Operating Procedure raises some very uncomfortable questions. Primarily, there’s one of guilt. Sure, most of the interviewees are guilty of mistreating prisoners. And their defense is something along the lines of “I was just following orders.” Nuremberg declared that such an argument doesn’t hold water. And while I agree with that in principle, I came away from the film feeling sorry for the poor schmucks, most straight out high school, who were put into a morally gray if not contradictory situation with intentionally vague instructions. (I wonder how my opinion would have changed if the movie interviewed the Iraqi prisoners in those pictures.

All of them draw a line between abuse and standard operating procedure. Making some guy jerk off or piling prisoners in a human pyramid is abuse, while stripping some guy naked, putting panties on his head and handcuffing him in an uncomfortable position is standard operating procedure. It strikes me, as a civilian, that that’s a very subtle and easily crossed distinction.

The film argues that Lynndie England and the others were punished more because they embarrassed the Pentagon that for an crime. One poor guy was sentenced to a year in the brig. Why? Because he appeared in an Abu Ghraib video cutting of the flex cuffs of a prisoner whose hands were turning purple. Though this torture strategy originated at the highest levels of government , no one above Staff Sargent was criminally punished. Guilt, according to the government, is not based on what you do, but whether or not you’re caught. That sort of mindset, that like an amoral seven-year old, has been the standard operating procedure for this administration. And as the years pass, Abu Ghraib might seem quaint compared to the horrors that Bush Co. have for now managed to hide away. That’s the thing about guilt, and nationhood. Just like the German people bare responsibility for Hitler and the Japanese bare (still officially unacknowledged) responsibility for Hirohito’s crimes in China, so does the American people share guilt about Bush’s crimes. And it drives me crazy.

The Garfield Factor: James A. Garfield, 20th president of the US, would have been largely baffled by the modernist sensibilities, finding it too disjointed and morally fuzzy. He would have undoubtedly found the Abu Ghraib pictures unsettling, not for their brutality, Pres. Garfield was a general in the Union army, but for their near pornographic unseemliness. Most likely, we would have poured himself a glass of whiskey and tried to blot the whole thing out of his mind by studying his beloved ancient Greek texts.

News Rant

Here’s a few news stories/columns that once again illustrates the flagrant wickedness of, as Mike Malloy would say, the Bush crime family. Last year, a German politician got into hot water over comparing Hitler with Bush (to which my response was “Yeah, Hitler is the epitome of earthly evil, but at least he got elected.”) This past week, an article in the Canadian Courier Mail reports that the US is considering turning its bases in Guantanamo Bay into a death camp (link dead) complete with a kangaroo court and an execution chamber.

Meanwhile, Paul Krugman argues that Chimpie McCokespoon and his thugs are radicals bent on destroying the New Deal and social safety net (Social Security, Medicare, etc.) along with it with that obscenely large tax cut that the congress just passed. He writes, “But the people now running America aren’t conservatives: they’re radicals who want to do away with the social and economic system we have, and the fiscal crisis they are concocting may give them the excuse they need.” Yes, that’s right. The country is being sold out from underneath us and the democrats are once again asleep at the switch.

And finally (at least for now), Ted Rall in his weekly (another dead link) writes:

“We warned the Bush Administration that invading Iraq would destabilize the Middle East and spread radical anti-American Islamism. We told the American people that taking out Saddam Hussein without a viable government to replace him would open a vacuum for anarchy, civil war and a power grab by radical Iranian-backed Shiite clerics. Now the antiwar movement’s doomsday scenarios have been fulfilled so completely that military history scarcely mentions a more thoroughly botched endeavor–and we’ll be living with the fallout for years. ”

He then proceeds to paint a very grim picture of the state of the Middle East, where an all but name independent Kurdistan is run by guys that make the Taliban look moderate and who will certainly plunge Turkey (a NATO member, y’know) into a long and bloody civil war. Am I the only one who is waxing poetic for the days when the biggest news stories in the world concerned the president’s genitals?


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