Jun 11, 2006

PR, suicide style

Colleen Graffy, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy, dismissed the three Guantanamo suicides as a "PR move". Oh, the irony:
Speaking to the BBC's Newshour programme, Ms Graffy ... said the three men did not value their lives nor the lives of those around them.

Detainees had access to lawyers, received mail and had the ability to write to families, so had other means of making protests, she said, and it was hard to see why the men had not protested about their situation.
A friend of mine once told me that if you slit your wrists, you don't really intend to kill yourself - it's a cry for help. If you really wanted to bleed to death, you'd go for a bigger vein and get the job done. And unless you're a detainee at Guantanamo, I'm sure one can't even begin to fathom what it's like being a prisoner there. Imagine: no meetings in front of judges, no charges filed against you, no end in sight. And maybe you have some moments that are sprinkled with a little torture here and there. I imagine these three prisoners found themselves at the brink of hope, and saw no other way to escape from prison, except from a body bag. You can't fake hanging yourself - it's pretty much a done deal.

To call their suicides a PR move is yet another example of how crazy and desensitized and flat-out heartless our government has become. We've gotten so good at blaming others for our missteps and blaming victims for enduring the systemic disfunctionalities that we've created for ourselves and others, that to even presume to suggest that our problems come from within would strike many as utter blasphemy. This is not right. What does this say about us as a country, and as human beings?

Why do we have this kind of prison outside of the U.S. anyway? I just keep thinking of Golding's Lord of the Flies - especially the notion that human beings essentially have an internal evil streak that society pretty much suppresses (sometimes). But take the society out of the equation, and evil and chaos emerges with a vengeance.

UPDATE 6/12: The White House is openly distancing itself today from Graffy's comments. My question is, shouldn't the White House PR staff had their talking points together BEFORE giving the media a quote? Now they have to do damage control, which they wouldn't have had to do had they gotten their stories straight in the first place. Stupid.

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