Responding to the EditorYou are too rhetorical [Archives:2003/645/Opinion]

June 26 2003

By Jarrell Prichard
[email protected]

While I understand that the questions posed in your article “Defining Democracy” were intended to be rhetorical, I feel that the affirmative response you provided in the article may not be entirely accurate without further explanation. Please examine these with me:
“Wasn't the USA the country that did what it did to the prisoners in Guantanamo, where clear examples of violations of freedom and human rights are carried out by the superpower of the world, which was supposed to protect human rights and human dignity?”
Have you ever seen a country release prisoners of war while the conflict continues? The prisoners held in Guantanamo are Al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters, and the US is still active against their forces around the world. They are not extended the rights guaranteed under the Bill of Rights, as they are enemies of the United States. However, they are being held according to US law and the Geneva Convention. They are not being tortured. They are receiving adequate food. They are being allowed to pray and speak with Islamic clergy. Many are actually living in better conditions imprisoned than there were in Afghanistan. Why? Because Americans care about people being treated humanely.
“Wasn't the US administration the one that requested the punishment of Al-Jazeera because of broadcasting Osama bin Laden's tapes and other similar issues?”
While most Americans are outraged that Al-Jazeera would give air time to an organization (Al-Qaeda) known to the world as terrorists, strangely enough they respect a free press and recognize the network's right to air the messages. However, airing messages that are in clear violation of the Geneva Convention – displaying images of (POWs)- does call for a response from the Administration.
“Wasn't the USA the country that supported the Israeli mighty military force to carry out incredibly unprecedented massacres against the Palestinians and at the same time condemned the self-defense measures taken by militant Palestinians?”
Wait a minute. The current US Administration has been quite vocal in condemning Israeli use of force since the “road map” was presented. Prior to that, the US has been careful to condemn violence against civilians, including the unfortunate civilian deaths that occur when attacking military targets. If the US Administration and its citizens did not feel that the Palestinians have a legitimate claim to their own land, it would not be part of the road map.
And let's be careful when talking about what Palestinian activity the US condemns. Military violence in violation of any government-established peace accords or ceasefires is always condemned, as are any attacks against civilians. Blowing up buses and cafes full of civilian men, women, and children is not self-defense. The Palestinians have full rights to sovereignty in their own land and the right to defend that land. Radicals seeking to “drive Israel into the sea” regardless of the cost to their own people are enemies of everyone.
On another note, I continue to respect your work in, and I understand the emotions behind your words. Perceived hypocrisy is extremely irritating to everyone, particularly when carried out against people that are more like your own by people that are less like your own.