What makes a society good or bad is not if there are a few bad apples in the bunch, but how that society deals with it's bad apples. On this point the left completely misunderstood Abu Ghrab. Yes, Saddam Hussein tortured prisoners, and yes, some of our soldiers tortured prisoners. But in Saddam's Iraq, the torture was an official component of state policy, and the worse of the worse were awarded--and anyone who complained about the torture were "disappeared" by the State. In the United States, torture is not an official component of state policy, and it sparked both criminal proceedings against the soldiers and a nation-wide debate as to how much discomfort is "torture" and whether torture was also being used at Gitmo.
The stark contrast is in the reaction.
The other day a Jewish settler got on a bus and shot a bunch of Arab Palestinians. And, as noted on Little Green Footballs, Mere Rhetoric noted the contrasts:
The Stark Contrasts
When a Jewish terrorist kills Arabs - and let's be clear, this one's a terrorist - Jews condemn him for it. When an Arab terrorist kills Jews, Arabs celebrate.
When an Arab mob savagely lynches a Jew for killing Arabs, the world yawns. When highly trained and disciplined Israeli operatives target a Palestinian terrorist who is literally in the act of terrorism, it's highly "controversial".
After a horrific terrorist attack committed by a Jew, it's just kind of expected that Arabs will violently riot. When Arabs commit the most unthinkable crimes, bombing civilians and then the medical personnel who come to help them, Israelis are urged to consider the day after.
Mired in their own victim-hood, Israeli Arab organizations are of course calling for a full strike. In far more serious situations - with civilian murders sanctioned at the highest Palestinian levels - Israelis were always urged to make one more painful concession for peace.
And of course, the biggest difference is that when a Jewish terrorist kills Arabs, Jews call him a terrorist. When an Arab terrorist kills Jews, he's something else.
I do have to note that there is a fundamental difference, philosophically speaking, between the Left and the Right on this matter.
The Left believes that as a whole, society must eventually evolve to a level of perfectibility where none of it's individuals would ever commit such an act. The fact that one soldier forced her prisoner to pose nude, or that one Jewish settler opened fire upon a bus full of Palestinians is a sure indication to the Left that this course of societal evolution is either retarded, or has been deliberately or unintentionally derailed--and while the individual must be helped, society itself must be fixed so that it doesn't allow individuals to fall to the level where they break conventional norms.
(Realize that ultimately the leftist philosophy of Marxism pretty much requires that people evolve beyond the need for government, beyond the need for petty material needs before we can move to the Marxist end-state of Communism, where everyone--by the virtue of their own enlightenment--gives to those according to ability and receives according to need.)
Philosophically, it even makes a certain degree of sense that the extreme Left would celebrate when a Palestinian blows herself up in a busy market place full of children, while they would decry (apparently hypocritically) when a Jewish settler opens fire in a bus. Because they see our current society as wedded to materialism and unwilling to admit the perfectibility of Mankind as a whole (because we keep arming police officers and building bombers and war ships), our current society stands in the way of the perfection of man. We are the Great Satan, and we must be destroyed--and better to be destroyed by the underdog, those who don't have as much, such as the Palestinians.
The Palestinian woman who blows herself up surrounded by children in a last defiant rage is to be celebrated both as a symbol of the inequities of a material society who has created her plight, so the left says, and it serves the second purpose of eventually helping to destroy that material society which stands in the way of the evolution of Mankind.
The Right (and my own personal stance) is quite different. While individuals may strive towards self-improvement, mankind as a whole is as it ever will be. There will forever be good apples and bad apples--and we will forever have to protect ourselves against the bad while attempting to grow better ourselves.
We forever will need armies and soldiers and police officers and a thin blue line, because we will forever have crooks and crazies and people who--even when shown compassion, caring and opportunity--will choose to act in an anti-social way. Our future is the future of Babylon 5, with it's dock worker strikes over poor pay and working conditions, rather than the future of Star Trek, where everyone has evolved beyond the need for material things.
So when a Palestinian woman blows herself up, and when the Left and the Palestinians celebrate in the streets, we see this as a dysfunctional society who celebrates death, and not the "last defiant blow one woman has against a repressive and evil materialistic society"--which to most people on the right sounds like complete and utter bullshit.
In a conservative framework, therefore, the fact that the left complains about Abu Ghriab and Gitmo--while seemingly unfounded--is part of a greater framework of give and take and freely expressed opinion which we are fighting for. We may disagree--we in fact should disagree if that is our personal conviction--but the fact that the debate occurs is a sign of a healthy and vibrant society.
It would be a sorry state of affairs if we uniformly celebrated the death of Palestinians as the Palestinians almost uniformly celebrate the death of Jewish settlers.
And we don't.
Which makes us far better than them.