March 28, 2006

Sr. Helen Gets Standing "O" at Valpo

Went to see Sr. Helen Prejean last night at Valparaiso University. Man, she's a force of nature. I definitely was on the verge of tears a couple times. I picked up her new book, The Death of Innocents, and had her sign it. I also thanked her for blurbing my book. More later....

March 27, 2006

Toronto-Based "This Magazine" Gives Good Review

The first review of my book is out from This Magazine, a well-known and long running Toronto-based alternative magazine of politics and culture. Below is the review by Brian Joseph Davis.

The Jam once ambivalently sang, "A smash of glass and the rumble of boots, an electric train and a ripped up phone booth, paint splattered walls and the cry of a tom cat, lights going out and a kick in the balls ... that's entertainment." It's a sentiment also echoed in Davis Griffith's first person essay, A Good War Is Hard to Find.

Focusing mostly on the strangeness of the Abu Ghraib torture photos and '90s-style transgressive culture, Griffith's thesis is that society is suffering a disconnect between its feelings and the images we produce. As a subjective essay, A Good War takes its time in saying what it wants to say, but Griffith's impassioned and always-questioning mind makes the journey worthwhile. Even if you disagree with him (as I do), take comfort that someone is asking uncomfortable questions about what makes what worthy of humour, or disgust.

Not bad, huh? "Impassioned and always questioning mind"--I can live with that. I'm happy that he's honest in his disagreement of the thesis. Go to This' Website by clicking the title of this post.

March 15, 2006

Haunting Photograph: Abu Ghraib Icon or Political Opportunist? is reporting that the New York Times got the wrong man in its front page feature on the alleged man-behind-the- hood in the now iconic photo from Abu Ghraib prison (see the orginal article here: Click the title of this link for the Salon account.

It seems fitting that the identity of this man is hard to pinpoint. I don't know why I think that. I guess it's as though that this man--whoever he is--is a sort of bogeyman, an apparition that embodies the horror of the Iraq war. Just as the tomb of the unknown soldier in any country touched by war inspires mournful respect and reflection, the photo of the unknown torture victim inspires frustration and anger. As Donald Rumsfeld said: "Those pictures never should have gotten out." It's safe to say that Susan Sontag was right: "Photographs haunt."

March 13, 2006

Death of a Christian Peacemaker a "Wake Up Call"?

The Catholic Peace Fellowship ( has a
number of wonderful posts up at the moment. Check out the lovely post about
the death of Tom Fox, a member of the Chrisitian Peacemaker team that was
kidknapped months ago. The post takes on pundits who believe the murder of Fox is a wake-up call for "naive peaceniks" who feel they can make a difference by going to Iraq--or wherever strife exists--and acting as an instrument of Christ's
peace. Also check out the CPF's posts on the ROTC debacle at Marquette University.

March 04, 2006

Times Op-Ed: Use of Dogs at Abu Ghraib Understood as "Legal"

An Op-Ed by ex-Army interrogator ANTHONY LAGOURANIS published in the February 28, 2006 NYT discusses how confusion among soldiers, and double-speak on the part of top brass, as to how detainees at Abu Ghraib should be considered (POW? Enemy Combatant? Insurgent?) lead to following through with orders that are clear violations of the Geneva Conventions.

March 01, 2006

What It Takes to Be a Conscientious Objector

The Catholic Peace Fellowship has a great story (click on the title of this post for the story) about a soldier who applied for Conscientious Objector staus, got it, and then was Honorably Discharged from the Army. Now the Army is trying to change his discharge status to "General," which would deprive him of many benefits, like the GI Bill. Click on the link at the bottom of the story to see excerpts from his statement of conscience, which is needed in order to make a successful bid for CO status.

Which gets me thinking: Wouldn't it be great to gather together statements of conscience and put them together in a big book? What would you say in your statement of conscience?

Gay Porn Used in Guantanamo Interrogations

The Nation's blog is reporting on an ACLU report in which FBI agents conducting interrogations at Gitmo witnessed the use of Gay pornographic films as an interrogation tool. Click on the title of this post for the whole story.

Since the beginning of the war we have been hearing allegations that the military's plan of attack against the "Islamic male" is rooted in an understanding of Middle Eastern culture's sense of shame, specifically when it comes to sexuality. The Abu Ghraib photos seem to support such allegations of a systematized approach to "softening up" detainees.

However, the fact that the ACLU is breaking this story doesn't bode well for its acceptance as "fact." In my experience, here in the middle west, the ACLU is given no more cred than a grocery store tabloid.

How do we combat such prejudice?