Joel Mowbray

As the Abu Gharib prisoner abuse scandal has almost naturally segued into calls for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld?s resignation, the media has once again focused on the ?news? to the detriment of the actual context needed to fully understand and appreciate the reality of the situation.

Just as the media focuses on Fallujah and now Abu Gharib while ignoring the thousands of daily good deeds performed by Americans and others, those calling for Rumsfeld?s head on a platter are being given a pass on their motivations for doing so.

When the media trots out one poll after another showing that half of Americans think Iraq is headed in the wrong direction, is it any surprise?

Between network news, cable news, and major magazines and newspapers, Americans are being treated to a daily diet of insurgency and violence.  Rebellious Shi?ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has gotten oodles of coverage, yet thousands of faceless coalition troops building bridges and schools have received almost none.

In fact, that half of Americans actually still believe we did and continue to do the right thing in bringing freedom to the Iraqi people is a testament to the independent-mindedness of the public. 

It?s tempting to say that this is the triumph of common sense, that people understand that the nature of the mainstream media is to scare us into consuming their products. 

With initial polls showing 70 percent opposing Rumsfeld?s resignation, it seems that, at the least, Americans recognize the importance of proper perspective.

What happened in Abu Gharib is both shocking and terrible.  Few have even tried to deny that.  Some have tried to point to various ?root causes,? but what matters most is that wrongdoing has been identified and is being punished.

The handling of the whole affairs speaks volumes about the fundamental nature of a free society.  We are dealing with this in a way no closed society or despotic regime ever has or would.

The range of reactions in America, though, also says a lot about the division within our society.

The battle lines forming in this scandal reveal as much about ingrained biases as anything else.  The people who would?ve loved to see Rumsfeld exit stage left long ago still want him gone; they?ve merely latched onto an excuse to make their feelings known publicly.

More than anything, what the Abu Gharib flap demonstrates is that there probably always will be bad actors in any gigantic group of people, even one as stocked full of patriots and heroes as the U.S. military.

Joel Mowbray

Joel Mowbray, who got his start with, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.

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