Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 17, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

JOSEPH DARBY....Over the weekend I was thinking about Abu Ghraib and it occurred to me that while I've heard quite a bit about Lynndie England, Charles Graner, and Jeremy Sivits, I haven't really heard anything about the hero of the story: Spec. Joseph Darby, the guy who blew the whistle on the abuse by turning over a CD full of pictures to the Army's Criminal Investigation Division.

Sadly, it turns out that Darby isn't talking to the press and neither is his family. Hanna Rosin's story in the Washington Post today makes it pretty clear why:

At the bar in the community center just down the road from Darby's house, near the trailer where his mother and younger brother live, none of the handful of patrons is in a parade kind of mood.

"If I were [Darby], I'd be sneaking in through the back door at midnight," says Janette Jones, who lives just across the border in Pennsylvania and stopped here at midday with her daughter for a Pepsi and a smoke.

...."That boy's got a lot of courage," says Alan St. Clair, who lives down the road from Darby's high school home. "But when you go against your fellow man like that, I don't know. Some people won't like it."

The feeling is starting to bubble up elsewhere, too, among people who feel that what Darby did was unpatriotic, un-American, even faintly treasonous. "Hero A Two-Timing Rat," reads a headline from last week's New York Post. The story is about his personal life, but the metaphor lingers.

Ratting out friends and coworkers, no matter how egregious their behavior, requires a kind of moral courage few of us have, and this story makes it graphically clear why: even when you're revealing the kind of abuse and torture that Darby did, doing so runs the risk of being shunned for life by the entire community of people you respect.

Darby will probably never get that back. Instead, like a mafia don in a witness protection program, he will have to leave his current life and construct a brand new one. How many of are willing to do that, especially for a bunch of strangers we don't really care about at all?

Not many. So spare a thought for Spec. Joseph Darby. We need more men like him.

Kevin Drum 6:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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