Earlier in the day that someone exploded a couple of bombs in Boston, killing the innocent and maiming scores more, the New York Times had run an op-edby a prisoner housed at Guantánamo Bay since 2002. Well, he didn't exactly write it, he told his story, through an Arabic interpreter, to his lawyers at the legal charity Reprieve in a telephone call. So in this daisy chain there were multiple opportunities to change, or perhaps even "improve" his story. Yet the Times chose to run it.
It is no accident that the guy's story supports the Times' own relentless "editorial position" on how cruel and unusual it is to keep
suspected terrorists locked up indefinitely. Needless to say, our boy claims he is innocent, was never a terrorist, but headed for Pakistan with the rest of the bad guys when the U.S. starting kicking
ass after 9/11. So now, he is on a protracted hunger strike (since nothing else got him released so far) and is pissed because the U.S. uses painful methods to force-feed him, with tubes inserted into
If you can put aside all of what you have read and seen about 9/11, IEDs, car bombings, train and bus bombings and videos of U.S. citizens having their throats cut, then maybe, just maybe, you might start to feel sorry for this guy. Clearly, the Times did. I did not get through the nearly 400 comments from readers, but they were pretty polarized between those who think it is unjust to continue to hold suspected terrorists in Cuba and those who can't put aside all of what they have read and seen about 9/11, IEDs, car bombings, train and bus bombings and videos of U.S. citizens having their throats cut. And now Boston.
While I am sure you have your own strongly held POV on the morality of Guantánamo Bay and all it represents, please don't bother filling up the comments box with it. I would rather hear how you feel about the Times thinking this was somehow credible enough to give space to it on its op-ed page. To me it seemed kind of desperate. After all, they have run a bunch of their own editorials about Gitmo, fully covered nearly every "injustice" they could find about the place -- and yet still can't manage to get the President or Congress to close it down. So maybe -- as in marketing when the facts and figures don't move product -- you go for the emotional appeal. But, also like marketing, when you go to the extreme, you run the risk of turning off as many as you turn on with your message. And of course, timing is everything.
This guy had about 10 hours of shelf-life before the Boston bombings automatically throttled back any sympathy instinct. He's going to have to hope another high-profile prisoner gets out on "new DNA evidence" to have any chance of anyone feeling sorry because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
On April 23, 1943, at the height of World War II, the Times ran an editorial with the headline: “Apology to Rattlesnakes.” It began: “Once or twice since Pearl Harbor, The Times has likened the Japanese to rattlesnakes. This is to apologize to the rattlesnakes.
“Compared with self-styled human beings who strike from the dark and slay without provocation or warning, who torture their helpless victims and murder them in cold-blooded defiance of honor and decency, the rattlesnake is one of nature’s noblemen.”
Oh, but I guess we are much more modern these days.