Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Sucked Down the Memory Hole

Once upon a time, before there was a place called Abu Ghraib, there was a place called Abu Ghraib.

Intellectual imaginations immediately grasp the importance of the widely covered website "Iraq Body Count," tabulating Iraqi civilians reported killed after the 2003 overthrow of Saddam. But the researcher-activists who created that site don't run a similar count of Iraqis killed by Saddam before April 2003, or one of bodies as they emerge from his mass graves, and they can't even be bothered to link to neglected websites publicizing those graves, such as and the austerely powerful (and graphic)

In the same spirit, institutions as diverse as Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, the University of California at Santa Cruz, Bryn Mawr and Amherst colleges, and Florida State University have already offered courses that discuss Abu Ghraib as a place where U.S. soldiers committed abuses, not as a place in which Saddam's secret police tortured thousands to death.

It's no coincidence that the Black Book of Saddam Hussein has been received with what Kutschera describes as a "chill" by the French commentariat, has been ignored by the reviewers in the leading French newspapers--Le Monde, Le Figaro, and Libération--and was reviewed only snidely by Le Monde Diplomatique.

If you want the inconvenient truth, you'll just have to go dig for it yourself.