Three detainees at GITMO hanged themselves on Saturday. Colleen Graffy, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy (that is, under Karen Hughes), told a BBC radio news programme yesterday that the suicides were

a good PR move to draw attention.

(A Pentagon spokesman later dissociated himself from the phrase.)

That’s what I call really putting yourself in the other person’s shoes.

Author: James Wimberley

James Wimberley (b. 1946, an Englishman raised in the Channel Islands. three adult children) is a former career international bureaucrat with the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. His main achievements there were the Lisbon Convention on recognition of qualifications and the Kosovo law on school education. He retired in 2006 to a little white house in Andalucia, His first wife Patricia Morris died in 2009 after a long illness. He remarried in 2011. to the former Brazilian TV actress Lu Mendonça. The cat overlords are now three. I suppose I've been invited to join real scholars on the list because my skills, acquired in a decade of technical assistance work in eastern Europe, include being able to ask faux-naïf questions like the exotic Persians and Chinese of eighteenth-century philosophical fiction. So I'm quite comfortable in the role of country-cousin blogger with a European perspective. The other specialised skill I learnt was making toasts with a moral in the course of drunken Caucasian banquets. I'm open to expenses-paid offers to retell Noah the great Armenian and Columbus, the orange, and university reform in Georgia. James Wimberley's occasional publications on the web

7 thoughts on “Empathy”

  1. The only possible description of this collection of knuckleheads is:
    The Gang That Can't Shoot Straight.

  2. So, she believes her callous pronouncement will detract from any PR punch the suicides might create?

  3. A remark worthy of Ann Coulter — eerily similar in fact to Coulter's much-quoted line. Maybe there's an RNC talking points directive: "Responses to Death, Ours and Theirs."

  4. BC don't insult "The Gang That Can't Shoot Straight" by comparing this administration to them. In fact it might cause great harm to the reputation of someone like Benito Mussolini if Bush & Co. were to be campared to him.

  5. There's a corollary here with the d– pardon, estate tax. By eliminating it, we will make death much more attractive as a tax move.

  6. TO: Colleen.Graffy@pepperdine.edu
    Dear Ms. Graffy:
    I am writing to you to remark upon the incredibly ignorant statement you made regarding the three recent suicides at Gitmo. The lack of knowledge about the causes of suicide which you demonstrated in your profoundly stupid remarks leaves me breathless for the sheer lack of understanding of an issue which is the 11th leading cause of death among Americans. (Anderson RN, Smith BL. Deaths: leading causes for 2001. National Vital Statistics Report 2003;52(9):1-86.), not to mention what incarceration without hope of release for charges unknown must do to a person. How would you like to be locked up without any knowledge of charges against you, in a land not your own, without any sense whether or not you would ever leave alive? Perhaps you should try it.
    Annual rates of suicide in this country are over 30,000 per year, more than 650,000 Americans are hospitalized each year following suicide attempts, and over 116,000 are treated in hospital emergency departments for same. Among US males, suicide is the 8th leading cause of death for all US men and males are four more times likely to die from suicide than females. And this is not even beginning to quote numbers related to female and teen deaths. But don't take it from me, Ms. Graffy, check out the website of one of your fellow-governmental agencies, the CDC–that's the Centers for Disease Control in case you had failed to note its existence– http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/factsheets/suifacts.htm . There you will see a tidy introduction to a subject in which you are woefully ignorant and which all your degrees have obviously not prepared you to understand or speak about.
    I come from a family which, in the last one hundred years, has experienced over a dozen suicides in its ranks. So, yeh, I tend to be rather sensitive to the issue. We are what you would call patriotic Americans, as a whole, and have done more than our share to contribute to the life of the nation in ways very big and small. To see you liken suicide as an act of warfare against the US would be funny if it were not so cruel and unfeeling. But then, cruel and unfeeling is probably how you have risen to the position you presently enjoy at State.
    Do us all a favor, Ms. Graffy, and shut your mouth about subjects for which you are woefully under-qualified and under-experienced to comment. Step outside of your fishbowl of an office and limited circle of acquaintances, take a drive sometime and see the world beyond the Beltway. Touch base with reality. You are in many ways as imprisoned as the people you are verbally abusing at Gitmo.
    Very Truly Yours,
    Robert Pell-deChame

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