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June 16, 2005
Dick Durbin: The Ring Of Familiarity

Tuesday's rant from Dick Durbin has enraged members of the Senate and the military, as he equated military personnel at Gitmo with Nazis, Stalinists, and the Khmer Rouge while also drawing moral equivalence between the Japanese-American WWII detainees and the Islamofascist prisoners of Camp X-Ray. Today, Durbin refused to apologize or back down appreciably from his comments:

Defending himself, the Senate's No. 2 Democrat said Thursday it was "just plain wrong" to say he was diminishing past horrors. He said he was comparing interrogation techniques that the FBI report said were used at Guantanamo with those in foreign detainee camps.

"This is the type of thing you would expect from a repressive regime. This is not the type of thing you would expect from the United States," Durbin said.

This kind of obstinacy sounded familiar to me, as it did to long-time CQ reader and friend River Rat. Both he and I thought back to an earlier time and decided that Durbin's allegations echoed a bit of American history, another time when the forces of the Left gathered to undermine the American will to fight. First, let's review the hyperbolic, hysteric, and idiotic rant of Durbin:

"If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others -- that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners."

Mr. Durbin also likened the treatment of terror suspects at the prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq to President Franklin D. Roosevelt's decision to authorize the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

"It took us almost 40 years for us to acknowledge that we were wrong, to admit that these people should never have been imprisoned. It was a shameful period in American history," Mr. Durbin said.

Both of us found the logical antecedent to Durbin's historically ignorant analogies -- in the history of the US Senate, ironically enough. Doesn't this sound just like an echo of Dick Durbin this week?

"They told the stories at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, tape wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the country side of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country."

Now granted, John Kerry at least had the sense to compare American military personnel to ravaging Mongol hordes. All of their victims had perished centuries earlier, and no one took inconvenient pictures of the genocide nor built museums meant to remind everyone in perpetuity of Khan's atrocities. Durbin doesn't have the intelligence to understand the difference. Of course, Kerry tried out his Christmas in Cambodia fables about President Richard Nixon being on the radio denying his presence across the Viet Nam border in 1986 during the height of the Cold War, lying about the corruption of an executive who hadn't yet taken office to undermine efforts by the Reagan administration to thwart Soviet and Cuban influence in Central America.

But Durbin isn't just echoing Kerry in these statements. For instance, Congressman Parren Mitchell said much the same thing in 1971 about the armed forces of the US, in his opening statement for the Dellums Committe on War Crimes in Viet Nam:

We have begun hearings today to investigate the military policy used in Vietnam which appears to us to foster war crimes. We are concerned with such schemes as free-fire zones, search and destroy missions, mass resettlement of peasantry and the so-called "bodycount mania." Since the Dept of Defense [DOD] acknowledges the use of these tactics, we wish to illustrate graphically what happens when such tactics are translated into action. Vietnam has been called the ultimate model war of attrition where civilians die by the score for every combat soldier killed. Our interest here is in the suspect military policy, not in uncovering war tames, but it is likely that we shall hear testimony as repugnant to the nat'l conscience as My Lai.

Congressman Sieberling joined his colleague and upped the ante with a Nazi reference for good measure:

[One] of the most shocking and depressing aspects of the disclosures of the German atrocities after World War II was the fact that so few citizens in that great nation raised their voices in protest or even took pains to learn the truth. This is understandable in a people living under the grip of a totalitarian regime; it is unthinkable in a human and civilized democracy. We must know the truth before we can deal effectively with our nations problems.

It seems that the Democrats have, for the past four decades, ever been ready to smear the American military during a time of war -- particularly with analogies to Nazis -- to bolster their political fortunes at the nation's expense. This hysterical and self-righteous namecalling turned out to be almost completely false in Viet Nam, but we learned that well after we ran out on our erstwhile allies in the South. They are even more ludicrous today, when the Durbins, Kerrys, and others have gotten so desperate for political attention that they now feel the need to toss out genocidal equivalences three at a time for what amounts to nothing more than humiliation techniques, invoking Nazis, Stalinists, and most egregiously the Khmer Rouge that their propaganda allowed to take power in the 1970s.

Durbin doesn't appear to be deranged; he's just following a shameful tradition by radical Democrats of sapping American will to fight and win a war.

NOTE: Keep an eye on Michelle Malkin, who has been collecting the links on Durbin while leading the blogswarm, along with Hugh Hewitt.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 16, 2005 11:07 PM

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