Moral Equivalence

Here and there we’ve heard a few voices saying that the abuses of Iraqi prisoners were not as bad as Saddam’s, as though that were some kind of excuse. Equally unhinged is the equation of the abuses of Iraqi prisoners by American military personnel with the mass murder, the gassing, and the torture practiced on a daily basis by Saddam Hussein (or even with the murders and indiscriminate bombings currently undertaken by the forces fighting against the Coalition Provisional Authority and the Iraqi government). Moral outrage can coexist with moral perception; the criminal acts we’ve seen documented in shocking detail are not excused by comparison with the crimes of Saddam Hussein, nor are they their equivalent. People who suggest otherwise merely discredit themselves; they lose all claim to be taken seriously.

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