My humble opinion on
January 28, 2002
Prisoners of War?
A big hullabaloo has been made over
the U.S. treatment of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. The furor began
when the Pentagon released a photo of a radical Muslim prisoner on
bended knees, blindfolded and shackled. British tabloids called it
torture, and other European countries, and yes, the ACLU too, joined in
the yapping, condemning this supposedly gross violation of human rights.
Even our ally Tony Blair expressed concern, though he pointed out that
the few British detainees voiced no complaint. All over one lousy
It later turned out that these
prisoners had just arrived at the base. They wear ear muffs because it
gets cold on the flight, blacked-out goggles to prevent eye signals or
other communication between prisoners, and shackles to limit their
movement so they can't cause any trouble. These restraints are removed
once they arrive and are placed in their cells.
"They are getting excellent
medical care, they're receiving culturally appropriate meals, they're
being allowed to practice their religion, which is not something they
encouraged on the part of others," said Secretary of State Donald
Rumsfield. "They are clothed cleanly and dry and safe." He
reiterated that the restraints are used only in transit. Some wore masks
but only because they were suspected of having tuberculosis.
"No detainee has been
harmed," Rumsfield proclaimed a few days later. "No detainee
has been mistreated in any way. And the numerous articles, statements,
questions, allegations and breathless reports on television are
undoubtedly by people who are either uninformed, misinformed or poorly
Additionally, each prisoner has access
to a Koran, and a Muslim cleric has been sent to serve them.
(A brief aside: Jonah Goldberg raised
an interesting point in his syndicated column last week. Remember, right
after 9/11, all the so-called moderate Muslims who said these terrorists
were not true Muslims, real Muslims are peaceful and hate violence? If
that's true, then why are many of these same people claiming that we
aren't allowing them to practice their Muslim faith? Are they Muslims or
aren't they? Which is it?)
In short, Christian America is
treating these radical Muslim terrorists better than virtually all
Muslim governments treat their peaceful, law-abiding Christians.
So why the bother? Why the shrill
complaints and rush to judgment?
Much of it, I think, is blatant
anti-Americanism. A lot of people still don't like us, and will latch
onto any reason, no matter how unjustified, to criticize. But that's
okay. We're big boys. We can take it.
Another issue was raised. Are these
terrorists prisoners of war, and thus entitled to protections accorded
to them under the Geneva Convention? The same folks who yelled and
wailed over the photo say they are.
But I don't think so. As Rich Lowry
explained in National Review Online, the Geneva Convention applies to
uniformed soldiers following the accepted standards of warfare. These
terrorists wore no uniforms, fought for no government, and violated the
laws of war by targeting civilians and hiding among civilian
populations. Rather than prisoners of war, they are war criminals, an
For example, let's say you're a
Japanese soldier in World War II. You get captured by the Americans. You
are a prisoner of war and entitled to the full protection of the Geneva
Convention. Now let's say you're a Japanese soldier or private citizen
who infiltrates our country, dressed as a civilian and armed with
explosives to blow up the National Mall. Now you're a war criminal, and
Geneva does not apply. If arrested, America could do whatever it likes
But America would not do that, just as
American is not abusing the captured terrorists. Though Geneva does not
apply, these prisoners are still receiving Geneva-like treatment and
Let me pose this question: During the
war in Afghanistan, would you rather have been an al Queda or Taliban
fighter captured by the Marines, or a U.S. soldier captured by the
I think the answer is obvious.
How's South Africa Doing?
Apartheid died a deserved death in
South Africa nearly ten years ago. Decades of white rule over a country
three-quarters black left a mixed legacy of economic success (though
enjoyed largely by whites; in 1993, blacks made up 76 percent of the
country but earned only 29 percent of South Africa's total income;
whites were 13 percent of the population but received 58 percent of
total income) and bitter race relations. Blacks were totally
disenfranchised during apartheid, and such brutal treatment is not
South Africa is now a nonracial
democracy. Majority rules, and the majority party in Parliament elects
the president. The majority party is currently the African National
Congress (ANC), and President Mbeki is its and the country's leader. The
country has an independent judiciary and a free press.
That's the good news. Unfortunately,
South Africa seems to be teetering on the brink of disaster.
Andrew Kenny documented South Africa's
problems in a recent column for the London Spectator. Some grim
- Crime is rampant. Each day brings
an average of 59 murders and 145 rapes, plus 752 assaults.
- South Africa's currency, the rand,
has plummeted in value since 1994, when apartheid ended and the ANC
- Twelve percent of the population is
HIV-positive, and President Mbeki deals with the crisis by claiming
that HIV does not cause AIDS.
- Mbeki has given support to the Thug
of Zimbabwe, President Mugabe.
- And worst and most horrid of all,
there has been a recent outbreak of baby rapes. Kenny cites a
five-month child raped by two men. Apparently, many believe AIDS can
be cured by making love with a virgin, so babies and small children
are now targets.
According to Kenny, many South
Africans are aware of their country's spiraling descent but are afraid
to voice their concerns in public, because Mbeki calls any and all
critics racists. The newspapers are free but toe the government line for
fear of reprisals. A race-based spoils system dominates the economy,
causing many educated and qualified blacks to feel guilty and inferior
and forcing many employers to retain ineffective and incompetent black
workers. Unemployment is rampant because no one wants to hire anyone,
because the race laws make it nearly impossible to fire anyone. Poverty
is rampant, especially with blacks. That has not improved, and in fact
has worsened, since apartheid's downfall. But mention this in public, or
criticize the government, and you're called a racist.
Apartheid gets blamed for these
problems, but Kenny dismisses that. It's time, he says, that those
blacks who blame apartheid stop blaming white people and take
responsibility for their own plight. South Africa is blessed with
natural resources and industrious people. The government must accept and
learn from criticism, and South Africans must not be afraid to speak the
truth. Concludes Kenny: "We must appoint, criticize, praise, pity
and punish black men in exactly the same way we appoint, criticize,
praise, pity and punish white men."
Kenny raises another interesting
point. When white governments commit atrocities, they are condemned.
When black governments commit atrocities, whites get blamed, or
colonialism, or racism - never those responsible. It's time to
start holding African leaders accountable, just like we hold all leaders
Hockey Dad Goes to Jail
Thomas Junta, the now infamous hockey
dad convicted of involuntary manslaughter for beating Michael Costin to
death in an ice rink while children played hockey, received six to ten
years in jail.
This case received a lot of attention.
Many thought Junta acted in self-defense. Others thought he was a bully
and should have gotten even more jail time.
I don't think Junta meant to kill
Costin, but he did lose control of his temper and his fists, and intentionally
or not, he killed a man, and should pay for it. The sentence seems just.