This morning, while washing my face and looking into a mirror, I heard, on the radio, a General in the Armed Forces made the "few rotten apples/don't throw out the baby with the bathwater" argument. It goes:
"There 150,000 soldiers in Iraq and some isolated incidents where people mess up and we shouldn't blame the entire Army for it. The war is still going well despite some setbacks."
How many "isolated incidents" adds up to large scale problem? Abu Ghraib did not happen to an entire city, it happened between a few American soldiers and their prisoners. What it revealed was far greater than the number of people directly involved. It showed American soldiers as wanton, and even gleeful, torturers who were enabled in this behavior by the culture within the military.
No one wants to throw out the Baby with the Bathwater. People are wondering why you're bathing the baby with lighter fluid.
Marines reportedly killed 24 Iraqi citizens in the town of Haditha. What is troubling therein is that it was falsely reported as a "roadside bombing" and only exposed through the dilligence of hardworking citizens and reporters.
Now, the Prime Minister of Iraq is referring to the killing of civilians as a "daily phenomenon."
It's clear that the behavior of troops on the ground in Iraq is, in certain cases, deplorable. If we want those who do not act with such disregard for human life to return home from this war unashamed of their involvement, we must take large-scale punitive action against those responsible for covering up, aiding, encouraging and enacting crimes against civilians.
- Matthew Freeman is a Brooklyn based playwright with a BFA from Emerson College. His plays include THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR, REASONS FOR MOVING, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE AMERICANS, THE WHITE SWALLOW, AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, GLEE CLUB, THAT OLD SOFT SHOE and BRANDYWINE DISTILLERY FIRE. He served as Assistant Producer and Senior Writer for the live webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010-2012. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Gamespy, Premiere, Complex Magazine, Maxim Online, and MTV Magazine. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc., New York Theatre Experience, and Samuel French.