Like Water for Corpses

OK. So I am not a big fan of US Marines in Afghanistan descrating Taliban corpses by peeing on them. It's childish, dumb and not the way to win anyone's hearts and minds. And soldier, PUT DOWN THAT CAMERA PHONE!

But I have to wonder at the shock and angst of news people and politicians working themselves up over dead soldiers getting urinated on, without a thought that these men had been killed on a complex battlefield. It's OK to kill, we seem to be saying, but not to pee on those you have killed. It's OK to demonize your enemy -- enough to feel OK about putting a bullet into him from long range -- but once he breathes his last, we must let the love begin.

Personally, given the chance to be killed or wee'd on, I'd pick the warm shower.

I have never been in battle, or anywhere near a war zone. I suspect that if I were, and if I was subject to the day and night terror about getting killed by some detested enemy, that I might be tempted to let loose a little if that enemy got his.

My problem is that desecrating the dead speaks volumes about what our soldiers -- and by extension, we -- think about living Afghanis. It's hard to imagine a soldier urinating on the body of a respected advserary. One might even by moved to honor the dead man in some way.

But an Afghani? A raghead? A camel jokey? These people are so far beneath us. They deserve our contempt, or at best our pity.

To reflect on the rationale for the war, or to question the violence that taks so many lives, is considered unpatriotic. Perhaps we protect ourselves against the irrationality of this war by being so appalled at the way some of our troops behave in the field. But for God's sake, war means hurting and maiming and destroying and humiliating. Yet we turn away from those realities, and worse, we console ourselves with tales of cleft palates repaired, or schools built, or puppies saved. You have to wonder what mosters we have become -- to turn a blind eye to death, grief and desolation, yet play the appalled spectator in a violent game we begged to have played.

When Moammar Ghaddafi was killed, so much righteous judgment was leveled against the Libyan fighters who dragged him out of his drain pipe, beat him, shot him and sodomized him. Barbaric! But the NATO flyer who dropped a bomb on his convoy was hardly considered. To blow up someone's ass from 10,000 feet is civilized, but to rape hsi ass at ground level is grotesque. Really.

Friends -- death and war are grotesque, unleashing evil and destruction on guilty and innocent alike. The least we can do is to be honest about it. Whether delivered at the push of a button or at the sharp end of a stick, we must try harder to own the beast within.