Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Mr. Ratfucker Is Surprised By Your Surprise

Mr. Ratfucker has been reading recent news reports, opinions and man-on-the-street interviews. He has found that the public is genuinely astonished that our soldiers are engaging in rape, murder and torture in Iraq and Afghanistan. In an effort to explain why this turn of events has occurred, one news story reported that the military is having trouble getting decent recruits and has lowered its standards to the point of accepting skinheads, neo-Nazis and gang members into its ranks. Even if that were true, Mr. Ratfucker believes it is a factor not a reason for the cruel and subhuman behavior of our soldiers. The reason our troops are acting like unprincipled brutes is twofold: 1) All of mankind is capable of quickly sinking into inhuman behavior when threatened. 2) In all wars, American soldiers are trained to think of the enemy as nonhuman things. How cruel would an ordinary American be if his life were in peril? The answer is VERY. In 1961-1962 Stanley Milgram conducted a series of experiments on obedience to authority at Yale University. He found that 65% of his subjects (ordinary residents of New Haven) willingly gave apparently harmful electric shocks of up to 450 volts to a pitifully protesting victim, simply because a scientific authority ordered them to do it. And the subjects knew the victim did nothing to deserve to be punished. In reality, the experiment used an actor who did not actually receive shocks. But this fact was not revealed to the subjects until the end of the experiment. The most ordinary of us is capable of inflicting horrible pain on our fellowman if an authority figure either condones it or commands it. Mr. Ratfucker is well aware how comforting it is to think we are the person who would never deliver an electric jolt to another human being just because we were told to do it. And he is well aware how comforting it is to cluck our tongues over the rapes going on in Iraq, knowing in our hearts we are too well brought up, ethical and nice to do such atrocious things. However, the training our soldiers are receiving dehumanizes the enemy. And the Bush administration is the authority that condones these brutal attacks. It is the only way a government—any government—can ratchet up the kill response in an ordinary human being when the government decides to go to war. Mr. Ratfucker asks: Can you be so sure how you would act if you were scared shitless, filled with hatred, had a gun, felt threatened, and had been told your government condoned and blessed every brutal act you could inflict on the enemy?

1 comment:

Barry Schwartz said...

OTOH the key figure in the latest case supposedly was discharged because he was diagnosed with Antisocial Personality Disorder, which presumably was not in his training. I wonder how and why he got that diagnosis, and why it was not made or acted upon earlier.