Tabloid newspapers give high priority to mud-wrestling bouts featuring young female soldiers in bras and thong panties. You can hardly knock the New York Daily News for running big with it Feb. 5 with the tip-off headline “Out of control at Camp Crazy!” (And the subhead “Female soldiers dress down & get dirty for mud romps.”) Two pictures are included, glistening women in the foreground, cheering male soldiers in the background.
I mean, this is shameless — almost as shameless as how much I relished the image. This is good old-fashioned fun. It made me proud of my country. I wanted to chomp on a fried pork rind and hear perhaps two-fifths of a Kid Rock song, this being about as white trash as I can get in public before the natural order reasserts itself. But there’s no part of me that wouldn’t cheer some nice half-naked female mud wrestling. Nor the nearby room that was apparently being loaned out for sex.
Too bad it’s a scandal.
You read it right: Despite the randy headline, the article itself, quoting shocked, shocked military officials, portrays the rasslin’ as “a disconcerting lapse in discipline at a time when Army brass was touting the camp as a model of reform.”
The location of this debauchery was Camp Bucca in Umm Qasr, Iraq. The time was late last October. This was, the News notes, around the time of the abominations taking place at Abu Ghraib, where other high-spirited young soldiers were torturing innocent Iraqi prisoners. (This makes it odd as to why the camp was being touted as a model of “reform” for crimes going on at the same time. Reform usually comes after, doesn’t it?)
The Daily News makes a rather weak effort to link the two, noting also that this was “the same period when enemy detainees were being transferred to Camp Bucca from Abu Ghraib,” although “the Camp Bucca pictures document no such abuses.”
The News revisited the story today, squeezing every last salacious drop out of it by quoting the widow of the soldier for whom the camp is named as saying that “Just because a few individuals did not behave honorably, that is not reason to lose faith in the soldiers at Camp Bucca.” It reiterates that Army brass considered the party “a serious breakdown in military discipline.”
And yet no one has been punished, the News says, its objectivity obviously strained by outrage that these rowdy youths, whose widow-identified dishonor has so painfully besmirched our flag, are getting away with it.
It’s all well and good to run hot pix of stripped-down American chicks grunting and aggressively rubbing their bodies all over each other. And it’s fine to come up with a rationale for doing so, like censors who must watch racy movies so others don’t have to.
But let’s not get all red in the face pretending there’s something wrong here. Abu Ghraib was also, just by way of contrast, another example of military discipline breaking down, a few bad eggs taking matters into their own hands in contradiction of Army policy — although no one’s ever proven this is true, or even admitted whether the White House counsel’s infamous draft memo on torture was policy or not. (Although if it wasn’t, one would think the White House would be eager to say so.) Abu Ghraib was the outrage. Abu Ghraib was the atrocity.
Camp Bucca was just a good time.