By Stanley Collymore
I was about to ask this very obvious question but someone already beat me to it. It's this: "Should the photos of the holocaust have been restricted or not shown at all for fear of inflaming anger or even hatred against Germans generally and the Nazis and their collaborators in particular?" Sixty five years after the end of World War II these photos are still a poignant reminder to many, the majority of them like me not born at the time, who in graphic detail can see and have a far better understanding of what took place than if we had to rely solely on the subjective reports of subsequent historians; and as any intelligent person knows history is always written from the perspective of the winners, never the losers. So imagine the travesty of adopting this line of argument if the holocaust photos were repressed and never seen by ordinary members of the public, taking into account that most people who were witnesses to this most atrocious event are either dead or now very elderly.
Besides, who gives politicians the right to cavalierly treat the electorate, to whom they are morally and in every other respect primarily accountable to and which voted them into office, as if they were absolute numbskulls completely incapable of ever making an rational and informed judgements for themselves, but sensible enough, ironically, to elect them to office? It all smacks of double standards to me, as I’m sure we're all aware that many if not all of those who would be appalled if anyone were to suggest that holocaust photos or films shouldn't be shown, are the very same people that are shouting the loudest for these photos of Arabs and other non-whites being brutally tortured, humiliated, and all the disgusting rest of it, to be banned or suppressed. The indisputable fact is that the United States illegally and dishonestly invaded two countries - Afghanistan and Iraq - neither of which it officially declared war on. Under the Geneva Conventions and the UN Charter, to which the United States is a signatory, such actions are irrefutably illegal and constitute "Unlawful Aggression" which is a war crime as well as a crime against humanity. And those who are attacked have every right to defend themselves, and should they be captured while doing so then they are officially – and there’s no getting away from this – prisoners of war who are entitled to all the guarantees provided them by the Geneva Conventions under that categorization, and can’t be willy-nilly demonized as so-called “enemy combatants” because the United States feels it has an omnipotent right to move the goals posts and change the rules in the middle of the game to suit itself. One can fully imagine the US’s own anger and the furore there would be in its media if US soldiers were treated in this horrendous manner. So why if it isn’t good for the US should the United States feel that it has the right to inflict on others what it finds distasteful for itself? That’s not the behaviour of a mature person or state but of an insufferable bully.
Arbitrarily picking people up, incarcerating them without telling them why they were unlawfully kidnapped, laying no charge against them for any alleged act of illegality, denying them due process of law, not trying them for any crime let alone convicting them of any is both immoral and illegal. And for anyone to say that such acts are right because they protect the US military which is itself the perpetrators of these illegal acts, let me ask a simple straightforward question: "Supposed someone wantonly killed several members of your family, and then used the same argument that the US administration and many US citizens are disingenuously advocating because they had powerful influential friends to stop that person from being prosecuted for murder, would you honestly be happy with that outcome?" Because if you are, then of course you should support the stance taken by Barack Obama, the Pentagon and others whom can only selfishly see things from their own perspective. If, however, as I suspect you won’t be yet you’re supporting this indefensible stance taken by your government and many of its electorate, consider yourself an incorrigible hypocrite who has lost the moral argument as well as the moral high ground and have nothing worthwhile to say that any sensible and objective person would want to listen to let alone take any cognisance of, for what you’re unmistakably saying is: “Do as I say and think, not as I do!” And, frankly, that line of thinking is untenable and will always be. Selfishness and brutality because it’s practised by the powerful doesn’t make barbarism right.
Finally, anyone who has even the most basic knowledge of how the film or publishing industries work know that when the authorities gratuitously ban something their action only awakens the interest of all those that are prevented from seeing what is banned and makes it a cause celebre. The people of the Middle East, or the rest of the world for that matter, aren’t fools and can read between the lines. And if the United States really wants to turn the page on this one, as well as its brutal and imperialistic past post 1945, and truly redeem itself; if it genuinely wants to honour its Constitution and Bill of Rights, the tenets of Habeas Corpus and all the other aspects of law that constitute the framework and raison d’être for a civilized society, then resisting the temptation and Siren calls to cover up wrongdoing, releasing these photos and bringing to justice the real architects and perpetrators of these crimes, not the lowly fall guys, is the least that the US can do. But I’m not holding my breath on that one.
For Barack Obama, I’m sad to say, is like all the other ambitious, self-centred politicians and officials that went before him and who he comfortably, in his comfort zone, surrounds himself with. Change? Of course there is change, but not of the kind that Barack promised on the campaign trail or what the world in general and the US electorate in particular has got. What we have is the same donkey of US politics ridden by a different rider. And just like the British electorate that has finally woken up to the extravagances and sleaze of its MPs, the US voters will ultimately have to do the same by acting decisively and responsibly; and the sooner the better.
"You have been sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, Go!”
The immortal words of Oliver Cromwell to the English rump parliament of 1653 prior to getting rid of it. Where I wonder is the US equivalent of England’s Oliver Cromwell vis-à-vis Congress and the Clinton/Obama administration?