Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Carter: Christian fundamentalism led to Abu Ghraib

I shouldn't be surprised anymore by Jimmy Carter's breathtaking idiocy, but I am. Carter takes a few quantum leaps of logic and gives us this gem as quoted in a Der Spiegel interview:

"The [Christian] fundamentalists believe they have a unique relationship with God, and that they and their ideas are God's ideas and God's premises on the particular issue. Therefore, by definition since they are speaking for God anyone who disagrees with them is inherently wrong. And the next step is: Those who disagree with them are inherently inferior, and in extreme cases -- as is the case with some fundamentalists around the world -- it makes your opponents sub-humans, so that their lives are not significant. Another thing is that a fundamentalist can't bring himself or herself to negotiate with people who disagree with them because the negotiating process itself is an indication of implied equality. And so this administration, for instance, has a policy of just refusing to talk to someone who is in strong disagreement with them -- which is also a radical departure from past history. So these are the kinds of things that cause me concern. And, of course, fundamentalists don't believe they can make mistakes, so when we permit the torture of prisoners in Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib, it's just impossible for a fundamentalist to admit that a mistake was made."

Ah. The old canard that holding absolute beliefs naturally leads to treating other people with indignity and disrespect. What, the Abu Ghraib guards were all Sunday School teachers? They were getting regular communiques from Jerry Falwell? They looked at their WWJD bracelets and decided to sexually humilate the prisoners?

Carter is being ridiculous. If fundamentalism per se were a sure route to violence and inhumanity, then we'd be dealing with a terror wave of militant Baptists and radical Amish.

But if you need a good laugh, read the entire story.


Pometacom said...

Why are not all Christians speaking out against the torture in Abu Ghraib prison?

I'm a USA Christian (Methodist) and I speak out against it. It's wrong and an insult to every faith and denomination on Earth. US Marines say it is wrong and abhorrent, my brother is a US Marine as is my best friend Jason. Torture is abhorrent period. We all know this. Christians know this. Christians were tortured for their belief in Jesus Christ. So is torture wrong or not? Christian?

Geek Girl Blonde said...

Pometacom, thanks for posting.

In my post, I was not endorsing or excusing torture, although I personally have a narrower definition of "torture" than what others may use.

My beef with Carter is the idea that "fundamentalist" Christianity is to blame for Abu Ghraib. I didn't hear a peep out of Carter when Saddam Hussein was dropping living humans into industrial shredders. I haven't heard Carter speak out about the 16-year-old girl in Iran who recently was hanged for "crimes against chastity", as documented by the BBC.

Yes, I'm embarassed by Abu Ghraib. But overall, the U.S. is far more humanitarian to its prisoners than any of the regimes we're fighting against. It's the silence about industrial shredders and hanging teenagers that bothers me much more than anything that happened at Abu Ghraib. It's a matter of perspective and proportion.

Rich said...

First, the question "Is torture wrong or not?" presupposes that torture is a monolithic thing, presumably any sort of purposeful inconveniencing of an inmate. Is incarceration itself torture? Manacling? Questioning? Feeding less than five-star cuisine?

The conditions at Guantanamo Bay are so accommodating as to be ludicrous--the prisoners eat better than our men in the field. Halal preparation, prayer accoutrements and Korans? Please.

Second, Abu Ghraib. AG's particular abuses were just that, abuses, and not applied under any official aegis, nor in the pursuit of any goal other than the gratification of some twisted individuals. Christians (and for the matter Americans) everywhere do abhor abuses such as these, and the fact that we have tried and are punishing those responsible shows the success of our societal model in dealing with such abuses.

So why persist in beating the "speak out against it" drum? Might another agenda be the motivation?

What Carter is attempting is to cast these abuses as being societally caused, rather than springing from the minds of a few. This is the problem. Disagreeing with Carter does not equal support for the idiots that caused the Abu Ghraib problems.


Geek Girl Blonde said...

Thank you, hon. You said it better than I did!

(See why I want to marry this guy?) :D