The idea that the appalling abuses at Abu Ghraib can somehow be excused by the savagery of regimes elsewhere in the Middle East is, of course, nonsense, but these words from Lebanese journalist Rajeh Khuri (quoted in the Washington Post) need to be remembered too. Rightly, he condemns the betrayal of American ideals that Abu Ghraib has come to represent, but then he goes on, in a piece entitled “The Chorus of Tearful Crocodiles” to say that what matters is not the rote denunciations in the Arab press of those cruelties, but silence about something else.
“We are concerned with the detention centers and jails filling the tunnels of regimes in the Arab world and the shredding of the soul of Arab citizens and their honor without one official batting an eyelash… Hundreds have perished in silence and out of sight, without even a cold announcement, and thousands have gone into detention and have not returned. . . . Then there are the names of those who disappeared and dissolved like salt between the ocean and the Gulf.”
Bush was right to apologize to the Iraqis for what was done, and, politically it may have been shrewd to couch that apology in wider terms to all Arab peoples, but we should be clear about one thing. The denunciations of America by the Arab press outside Iraq has no more moral (politically speaking, it is something else) significance than the sight of a weeping Goebbels. It’s nothing more than the howling of a coterie of hand-picked hypocrites, flaks for the fascists, theocratic or otherwise, who run their countries, journalistic attack dogs who, it seems, have learned to love their leashes.