I’ve always been repulsed by the talk of good guys and bad guys in Iraq. The Bush administration, along with conservative pundits, loves to paint the United States as being on the side of the angels.
The “bad guys” are the Iraqi insurgents, Baathists, Al Qaeda fighters, militias—any and all who are resisting the Snow White pure intentions of the “good guys” to bring peace, democracy, and the American way to the middle east.
Abu Ghraib’s torture and prisoner abuse should have put to rest this ridiculous dualism. But it didn’t. Too many Americans have an unfortunate ability to downplay our nation’s faults and exaggerate its virtues.
Hopefully Haditha will open the eyes of head-in-the-sanders. Reading about the atrocities committed by Marines in 2005, these clearly were “bad guys.”
U.S. Marines gunned down five unarmed Iraqis who stumbled onto the scene of a 2005 roadside bombing in Haditha, Iraq, according to eyewitness accounts that are part of a Naval Criminal Investigative Service report obtained by The Washington Post.
Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, the squad leader, shot the men one by one after Marines ordered them out of a white taxi in the moments following the explosion, which killed one Marine and injured two others, witnesses told investigators. Another Marine fired into their bodies as they lay on the ground.
…The shootings were the first in a series of violent reactions by Marines on the morning of Nov. 19, 2005, that left 24 civilians - many of them women and children - dead, in what some human rights groups and Iraqis have called a massacre.
I’d like it if “good guy” and “bad guy” disappeared from public discourse. But if these terms are still going to be used, they need to be applied with specificity. Why exactly is this guy good or bad?
American soldiers are on both sides of the good-bad fence. So are Iraqi insurgents, many of whom surely consider that they’re patriots fighting for their country. (To the British, George Washington was a “bad guy.”)
George Bush himself was recently voted the top bad guy. And, good guy.
Diane Christian reminds us that if you think you’re good, you’re probably not, just as those who believe they can do no wrong generally commit a lot of it.
Most religious and moral teachings warn against thinking you're good. Call no man good is the counsel. The wisdom is that if you think you're good you're dangerous because you won't acknowledge where you're bad. Contrary to popular appetite, it's not all or nothing, good or bad forever fixed, but separate actions in time. You can be good today and bad tomorrow, bad yesterday and good today. If you're free it's an open option.
The Tao Te Ching tells it like it is:
A truly good man is not aware of his goodness,
And is therefore good.
A foolish man tries to be good,
And is therefore not good.