Retribution – even violent retribution - has long been part of our way of life. The extent to which retribution is accepted, or at least understood, is very much dependent on the context of the antecedent offending actions. In our beloved sport of ice hockey, for instance, when a player takes a “cheap shot” against another, we condone or expect a swift violent reaction ranging from a counter slash of the stick to the immediate dropping of the gloves. In such instances thousands stand round cheering on the beating of the instigator (if he’s on “our team” that is).
Moving up the scale of retribution we see instances of violence done to others out of jealousy (a less accepted form) where one partner will cause harm to another caught in the act of cheating. We see that it is wrong but we are not surprised or shocked that it has happened. Then there are instances of vigilantism or emotional defense. I cannot imagine the prospect of my young child being molested or intentionally harmed by another, but I have no doubt that if I caught the perpetrator I would do severe violence to them. I imagine that society in general, while acknowleging the theoretical wrong of commiting violence to another, would sympathize with or at least understand my offending behavior.
War is an altogether different matter. History is replete with examples of one side exacting horrific revenge on the other side. The Russians retaking the Eastern front from the Nazis gave rise to thousands of instances of unspeakable acts of atrocity. Not much has been written about it, as history has appeared to recognize the scope of the antecedent instigation, noting that all is fair in love and war. In the Serbian conflict, under the watchful eye of UN observers, countless acts of barbarity ensued, much justified as revenge. We cannot condone savage revenge done to, say, a colonel in charge of rounding up villagers and having them shot because they had the misfortune of being Croatians in a Serbian region, but if that Colonel is later captured, hung upside down and stabbed a thousand times by the villagers (as happened to Mussolini), we understand.
Which brings us to the Taliban. A more barbaric group would be difficult to find. The savagery they inflicted on the populace while they were in control rivals anything mankind has done in a millenia. Women being stoned, gays hung, “impure” actions met with torture and death, an entire class of young women essentially banned from public life. Since being driven to the caves and mountains their barbarity has continued, with the routine targeting of innocents, including bombing groups of poor children seeking candy from UN soldiers.
It is in this context that we find our Canadian MSM reporting of allegations of mistreatment of Taliban prisoners.
Not by us, mind you. By those who’ve been suffering unimaginable acts of horror at the hands of the Taliban.
In a sane media complex, free of partisanship, and absent a base desire to oust a government they consider unworthy of leading due to its unacceptable political stripes, the real story behind the Taliban’s captors would be their incredible restraint.
Yet, in a society which cheers the violent pummelling of a defenceman for the grave infraction of a trip from behind, we suddenly find ourselves being asked by the left leaning media to ignore the context (which ignoring is aided by them not even pretending to report on the occasional Taliban barbarity as a semblence of “balance”) and rally as a country in outrage for the “mistreatment” of the Taliban.