Arts, Media, and Entertainment

Problems Abroad, Problems at Home

The prisoner abuse in Iraq is a public-relations and foreign-policy disaster. It undermines, you see, our efforts to win over the hearts and minds of Muslims by introducing them to liberal democracy, which brings freedom, prosperity, and individual dignity to all people. Well, tragically, radical Islamists can now point to these photos as examples of what they have always charged: that is, that the West really brings decadence and moral decay. If I were recruiting terrorists, I'd show those lewd photos to everyone I met as proof of the West's decadence and the need for a jihad. As I've tried to figure out how this travesty occurred, I've considered my own experiences in the Marine Corp. Had I been in charge of the brig in a time of war and the intelligence officers ordered me to "soften these guys up for interrogation," I would have made them sleep with their lights on all night; I would have awakened them every fifteen minutes; I would have played loud music, as we did in Panama to rattle the nerves of Noriega and his henchmen who were hiding out. I would have given them a rifle butt in the stomach if they gave me any sass. And I would have harassed them and made their lives so miserable they would want to tell us want we wanted to know. But not in my wildest imagination can I conceive of ever doing what our Army Reservists did to the prisoners in Iraq. Even if it had occurred to me, it would have been so repulsive I can't imagine I would have acted on it. And I was no paragon of virtue in those days; that was before my conversion. Why did it even occur to our soldiers today to molest and embarrass these prisoners sexually? I think it is in part because we live in a pornography-soaked culture. You can't turn on the television without seeing it. The number of movies that you can watch is minimal because so many are filled with moral rot, four-letter words, and brazen sex acts. The Internet is full of pornography, and when we make efforts to curb it, the courts strike them down. And so our kids are raised in this kind of garbage. Then when they become MPs in a prison in Iraq, they don't pull out the fingernails or set off loud radios to harass prisoners. Instead they strip them and make them pose in pretend sex acts -- just like pornography. And then they film it -- incredible. All of us should be praying somehow that we can recover from this and that the military will not be permanently scarred. Most of our men and women in uniform make us proud. And we've got to work, somehow, to see that this public relations disaster is rectified. All of us have to pray for peace and for freedom in the Middle East, which is what the War in Iraq is all about. At the same time we need to take a good, hard look at ourselves. Have we allowed the environment to be so polluted with pornography that we have young men and women putting on the uniform and behaving in this reprehensible, lewd manner? A good question for the public debate at the moment is whether we have brought all of this on ourselves by our addiction to or toleration for pornography. And are we doing enough to crack down on pornography? I noticed that the Justice Department has stepped up some prosecutions. We have all got to redouble our efforts to clean up this culture and shield our kids from moral pollution. Yes, we must clean up the mess in Iraq, alright, but it is a mess that reminds us that we have one here at home that we had better clean up as well.


Chuck Colson


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