Glenn Greenwald linked to this post by Digby in one of the updates to his post about right-wing hypocrisy in regard to the treatment of American missionaries arrested in Haiti, but I did not actually read it until just now.
It’s about the seemingly complete inability of the right in this country to identify with the humanity of anyone who isn’t exactly like them. This phenomenon is not about the legitimate distinction every reasonable person makes between degrees of seriousness when discussing criminal acts. It’s about something much more basic than that: the ability to empathize with someone caught in the nightmare of being wrongfully accused and denied all access to the legal means to make that known. The difference in the reactions by the American right to a Baptist missionary’s possible wrongful arrest and subsequent mistreatment and to a Guantanamo detainee’s possible wrongful arrest and subsequent mistreatment is at its heart not about the difference in what they are being accused of having done. It’s about the difference in the very ability to imagine the possibility, the very concept, of wrongful accusation — or even if the possibility is acknowledged, the ability to feel the injustice of that, to empathize with it, to put oneself in that Muslim prisoner’s place and imagine oneself to be him, or to be a loved one.
Here is one paragraph from Digby’s post:
For most of us, this all comes down to what I call the Count of Monte Cristo effect. I read that book as a kid and the horror of a system which would allow an innocent person to be locked up forever so seared itself into my psyche that I automatically understood from that point on what injustice was. I didn’t need to be a Frenchman in the Napoleonic era to relate. I’d been inside Edmond Dantès head, I’d been Edmond Dantès, and I’d felt, as a human being, what it was to be falsely accused and imprisoned.
Now go back and read the rest. And think about it.