Saturday, October 6, 2007

Sullivan's Washington Quote

Andrew Sullivan has a quote on his website which seems to be an exhortation to treat prisoners decently. It seems spot on. What any decent general would say about the treatment of prisoners - and we know that Washington was a stickler about prisoners. But there are ellipses in the quote and no sourcing. Which worried me so I googled it and it turns out that back in February Never in Our Name had seen the same quote and tracked the original down. You should read his post but to summarize - the quote is from the charge George Washington gave to Benerdict Arnold when he was ordering him to march into Quebec. Here is the relevant part of the quote without editing

Should any American Soldier be so base and infamous as to injure any Canadian or Indian, in his Person or Property, I do most earnestly enjoin you to bring him to such severe and exemplary Punishment as the Enormity of the Crime may require. Should it extend to Death itself it will not be disproportional to its Guilt at such a Time and in such a Cause
So, it is not exactly about prisoners. But as NION puts it "Go back and read those orders again - this time substituting "Iraq" for "Canada" and "Iraqis" for "Canadians and Indians."" and perhaps it is even more relevant, because the Canadians and Indians Washington refers to "would simply be citizens living in their own land, who just happened to be caught in the middle of a conflict between America and some tyrant."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting to know.