November 04, 2005

Where Have All the Cadets Gone? Ian Fishback and Joshua Casteel Speak Up...But is Anyone Paying Attention?

It's already come and gone. Ian Fishback's letter to John McCain complaining about the ambiguity of military doctrine on how detainees are to be treated in this war against a "radical" Muslim insurgency is already old news. Fishback did the difficult, the unheard of; he broke the long silence of American military officers surrounding the treatment of detainees.

McCain proposed a bill, which, in no uncertain terms, dictates the way detainees should be treated, and it passed--although Bush has said he will veto any bill that hinders his Executive power to wage war.

At the recent Catholic Peace Fellowship retreat/conference "A Day with the Prophets," Joshua Casteel, ex-Abu Ghraib Army interrogator told me that he has been in contact with Fishback--they were cadets together at West Point. Casteel, currently a playwrighting student at Iowa's famed Writer's Workshop, told me that they dicussed the lack of outcry on the part of ex-West Pointers, who are known for their deep and refined sense of moral certitude.

Casteel told me and crowd of retreat attendees--a crowd made up of Catholic Workers from Massachusetts to Des Moines, as well as priests, theology students from Notre Dame and community members--that the majority of interrogations he conducted were of innocent men who were caught up in broad sweeps.

More later.

Soft Skull: Expect More Religion Themed Books...Expect to "Get Dirty"

Richard Nash is my hero. I know I'm biased--his press, Soft Skull, is publishing my book in February--but I'm continually impressed by his willingness to go where others don't dare.

This from Soft Skull's news blog:

...Soft Skull is embarking on a plan to start publishing a good deal about religion and how it plays into politics and society. And it's not all anti-clerical, either, though I can assure you that it is also not going to involve books about how the Dems can win in 2008 by being more religious. What it is about is recognizing that the U.S. is by far the most religious country in the West, and if we're to tussle with understanding this country, we have to engage with religion, and we're going to have to get our hands dirty with it. And, notwithstanding the relative secularity of the rest of the West, and notwithstanding my massive antipathy towards utterly ahistorical Huntingtonesque theories about clashes of civilizations, to also seek to understand the role religion (theological religion, let's say) plays when cultures (Algeria and the Netherland, Somalia and Italy, Morocco and Spain, etc etc...) interpenetrate.

Interestingly enough, almost everyone writing for us on this subject is in blog land. Michael Standaert is writing on Tim LaHaye and the Left Behind series in Skipping Toward Armageddon: The Politics and Propaganda of the Left Behind Novels and the LaHaye Empire; Laurel Snyder is editing Half/Life a collection of original essays on growing up half Jewish; and David Griffith has written what is probably the finest title for a book we'll publish this year: A Good War Is Hard to Find which we're describing as a Catholic Regarding the Pain of Others or as Joan Didion meets Flannery O'Connor...the first chapter of the book is online here []