Sen. Mitch McConnell is guilty on both counts: What he believed to be news was a joke, and what he missed was the real news.
It started on Nov. 12, when on The Duffle Blog, America’s John Stewart for the fake and funny military news made an Onion-style joke that the Obama administration was preparing to give the same GI Bill benefits, offered to American veterans, to Guantanamo Bay prisoners.
One of Sen. McConnell’s constituents took the joke literally. As a result, Sen. McConnell’s office issued a letter seeking an official response from the U.S Department of Defense. On Feb. 19, Wired.com unveiled the spoof.
So even a suggestion of equal benefits for prisoners of war is now either a joke, according to The Duffle Blog, or an affront, according to Sen. McConnell.
But in Islam, the idea of equal benefits for the prisoners of war is not a joke — it’s a reality and a legacy.
Now I am not talking about today’s corrupt and inhumane so-called Muslim governments; they are to Islam what the Westboro Baptist Church is to Christianity.
I am talking about the philosophy and philanthropy of Prophet Muhammad. He offered such a benefits package for the prisoners of war such that if he had his way, there would be no Guantanamo Bay.
While the families of more than 1,000 military and civilian personnel live in developments with names like Iguana Terrace and Marina Point, the prisoners at Guantanamo, at times, spent more than 18 months in solitary confinement. Muhammad instead instructed Muslims that, “when prisoners of war are put under guard, those closely related should be placed together.”
While the civilians sport beach style clothing, the prisoners are beaten in orange uniforms with a black cloth donned over their faces. Muhammad instead reminded Muslims to “feed and clothe the prisoners in the same way and style as they fed and clothed themselves.”
While the civilians face a choice between McDonalds, Taco Bell and KFC, the prisoners are, according to The Economist, fed “a foul diet of yellow water and food up to ten years past its shelf-life.” Muhammad instead urged Muslims to provide the same food to the prisoners as they consumed themselves.
Muhammad even taught ways to end such detentions by encouraging Muslims to free captives either for the expiation of their sins or as an act of simple benevolence.
An ex-prisoner, who later converted to Islam, testified, “(Muslims) made us ride while they themselves walked; they gave us wheaten bread to eat when there was little of it, contenting themselves with dates.”
Personal accounts of ex-Guantanamo Bay’s prisoners however — whose faith inspired theconversion of an American guard to Islam — are horrifying. The Economist paints a picture of “detainees shackled hand and foot for up to 15 hours at a time in wire cages open to rats, snakes and scorpions. Interrogations at gunpoint. Sleep deprivation.”
Why doesn’t Sen. McConnell inquire from the Department of Justice about the fairness in the idea of indefinite detentions without a trial? Why is that not repugnant to him? Candidate Obama was correct in 2007 when he remarked, “In the dark halls of Abu Ghraib and the detention cells of Guantanamo, we have compromised our most precious values.”
Yes, Sen. McConnell, we have compromised our precious values of “liberty and justice for all.” When we hide behind a flimsy technicality of, “Guantanamo Bay detainees are not on U.S. soil and therefore not covered by the U.S. Constitution,” we imply that our values are subservient to our physical borders.
The risk in compromising our core values is this: the chickens invariably come home to roost. Just look at the Muslim world today. By moving away from the loving and humane character of Prophet Muhammad, Muslims have inflicted more injury to themselves than anyone else.
Sadly, we are also injuring our own, our best. You missed the real news Sen. McConnell. The Duffle Blog was calling attention to the poor treatment and inadequate benefits that we as a nation provide to our own veterans.
Please. Seek an official response to this. Your constituents are waiting.
Dr. Faheem Younus is a clinical associate professor at the University of Maryland. He is the founder of Muslimerican.com and a daily commentator for Fox News Talk. Follow him on Twitter at @FaheemYounus
Follow Dr. Faheem Younus on Twitter: www.twitter.com/FaheemYounus