First Outrage: Reminiscing
My oldest memory of political outrage was about the massacre in My Lai, Viet Nam in the late 60’s. I was not more than 10 years old when the story broke some time after the gruesome fact. I remember bringing to class a magazine (most likely Life Magazine) with photos of the corpses of children, women, and men. (I’m not sure how I got the magazine or how my parents let me take it.) I have a solid recollection of indignation when one of my classmates defended the massacre with some kind of security argument that he must have borrowed from his parents the night before. I held up a photo of dead toddlers and asked him, “Do these babies look dangerous?” My teacher said nothing, but had a smile of approval ... at last. She was quietly proud of me. I remember her face to this moment. Then she readjusted her face and told us to stop arguing.
I didn’t know it at the time, but journalist Seymour Hersh was instrumental in exposing My Lai and American military culpability. Recently, Sy Hersh, the most respected investigative journalist in America, spoke to our journalism students here in Qatar and gave a narration of his reportage and its mixture of doggedness, smarts, and luck. The coverage handed him a Pulitzer Prize. I had never met him before. I’m glad I did. Recall Hersh’s recent article (a couple of years back) in the New Yorker that exposed the Bush Administration’s plan (alleged, I should say) to attack Iran. Hersh’s article put a damper on the plans, many speculate. Probably true.
Well, you got to be angry at times. What’s “anger” for? To overstate and under-support, I have to believe that many of the problems we have are about misplaced angry: passive about oppression and, ah, torture, but wild about silly things not much worse than spilt milk. I’m very disappointed that Obama is not actively seeking out prosecution for torture-gate. There’s no high ground in that. None.