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Good Morning, America

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Good Morning, America

Scanning headlines this morning, I am heartened to discover that the dog handler at Abu Ghraib has been found guilty. I sip my coffee and feel relief. Eleven convictions to date? Things are being put aright in America; my country lives by the rule of law and moral righteousness. Maybe I'll dig out my old flag.

My home office is sunny, my coffee hot and fresh, the street outside peaceful. Someone's mowing their lawn. I'm a little less frightened today; somewhere someone is conducting the business of keeping me safe. Trundling around the house in pink slippers and my daughter's "Life is good" pj's, I puff a bit with pride, in myself, in my country, in my voting record. On my second trip to the kitchen, I remind myself again that we just aren't like them.

Indeed, as a news/Op-Ed junky, how could I feel otherwise? Those who control the news I love remind me daily how Abu Ghraib was exceptional, the result of: the enemies' toxic influence upon American goodness (David Brooks); allowing women into the armed forces (Peggy Noonan); poor planning on the part of Team Bush (Maureen Dowd); certain Americans' tendency toward suicide and self-loathing (Diana West).

A friend of mine (an academic, for Pete's sake!) has encouraged me to rethink my comfortable ease, my sense of relief. She recommends that I seek out images of gang rape, torture and blood-spattered cells at Abu Ghraib, as well as letters smuggled out of that prison and the reportage of Seymour Hersh. I think she's just taking a position, and being bossy.

"It's difficult to carry on with the ordinary tasks of the day after seeing hooded human beings savagely beaten, after reading reports of young boys raped on video tape. I should run to the bank. Isn't the dry cleaning ready? This is inconvenient in the extreme. Sitting at my computer, my head swimming, I can't locate the "delete" button as a naked Iraqi woman bent over and sodomized by one U.S. soldier, hair pulled by another, dominates the screen. I wonder if even her own parents could recognize her face, contorted as it is with terror and agony. And what of the grinning soldiers smiling for the camera? Would their parents recognize them?

I seek better news online. "Eleven convictions for Abu Ghraib," I repeat to myself. That's a lot, right? Clinging to my belief in American justice and my faith that my country is pretty much the only one that always does the right thing, I right click on the wrong link: "U.S. Marines have murdered up to 24 Iraqi civilians."

Holding a cold cup of coffee and feeling suddenly ridiculous in my pink slippers, I notice my neighbor's flag, slack and listless against the house. I used to love this neighborhood.
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Kellie Bean has been a Professor of English at Marshall University, an Associate Dean of Liberal Arts, and most recently, Provost of a small New England College. Author of "Post-Backlash Feminism: Women and the Media Since Reagan/Bush" (McFarland (more...)

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