RE: Creative cruelty and responsibility: Photos from Iraq

From: Eugene Matusov (ematusov@UDel.Edu)
Date: Mon May 03 2004 - 16:54:47 PDT

Dear Phillip-

Thanks a lot for sending info about lynching photos. I did not know about
those photos. Can you direct me to the link if possible, please? Do you know
if white people use lynching to make jokes and have fun as on US photos?
Those feature seem to be pretty unique but I can be wrong....

I was thinking how much the Geneva Convention shaped the US photos of
humiliation of Iraqi POWs. It is pure speculation but it is plausible (based
on the recent media reports that I sent to you) that US prison guards were
asked by intelligence officers to "soften up" the Iraqi prisoners before
interrogations without "violations" of the Geneva Convention. This means
without beating and leaving any signs on the body of physical torture. These
"guidelines" would leave pretty much to the use of electrical shock and
humiliation - what we saw on the photos. The use of electrical shock can be
risky because it can leave signs on the body. "Creative" humiliation without
use of physical violence (by aiming at production of physical pain) can
easily to be reduced to "making good laugh" through sexual "plays" with
bodies of the Iraqi POWs (especially in the context of a Muslim culture). If
my speculation is correct, the Geneva Convention is indirectly shaped the US
soldier's humiliation of the Iraqi POWs. However, of course, the
responsibility for this is on those who requested the prison guards to
"soften up" the prisoners and on the prisoners themselves and not on the
Geneva Convention that was violated.

What do you think?


> -----Original Message-----
> From: White, Phillip []
> Sent: Monday, May 03, 2004 11:08 AM
> To:
> Subject: RE: Creative cruelty and responsibility: Photos from Iraq
> Judy wrote:
> I have heard that the information derived from this kind of mistreatment
> completely unreliable. If so, what are the real pragmatic goals? or
> -- embedded in a broader political arena, in countries outside Iraq.
> and Eugene responded:
> Probably, it works like testing in education. It is well known that
> is not reliable as the assessment of students' knowledge and/or learning
> it is easily achievable. At the end of the day, testing - whether reliable
> or not - produces sorting that serves for the purpose of stratification.
> "pressured" interrogations produce information that can be later analyzed
> and (mis)used by military and politicians.
> I agree, Eugene - when I read Judy's observation it confirmed my
own thoughts from
> past readings in either Harper's or the Atlantic, that torture is
ineffective and the information
> is unreliable. which reminded me of methods used by schools to discipline
students - the
> methods are most usually ineffective, and quickly become a dialogue (to
coin a new phrase,
> homoglossic) in which all the participants know their roles and
ventriloquate an unchanging
> dialogue that is more ritualistic than attempts at new understandings and
relationships - not
> unlike Gutierez's description of discourse in the high school classes
where the teacher
> practices teaching and the students practice studenting - with little
emphasis on learning and
> the new relationships that necessarily emerge out of the new learning.
> i think that what happened in the Bagdad prison is a micro example of
common forms of
> activity here in the states - what Judy described as "good ol' times" -
frat house hazing,
> police abuse, etc. etc. - and, Eugene, I have seen photos of lynchings
in which the white
> participants were positively beaming with smiles, even pointing towards
the lynched body
> as if illustrating a redeeming moral lesson.
> Phillip

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