6.13.2006

American Torture



My America, at least the America of my birth, does not resort to the use of torture. We were taught that fact in public schools, American public schools, schools in which we learned old fashioned American values about family and fairness, values like the presumption of innocence, due process, respect for the law and the rights of man.

Others might resort to using torture, Hitler and his evil Nazi worshipers, Stalin, with his Gulags and purges, Mao and the People’s reeducation camps. Torture, in those days, was for others, the Pinochets, the Batistas, the Perons, the Idi Amins of the world, torture was not an American thing.

Torture was a tool used by our primitive and unenlightened forbears, to extract information, or to punish their enemies, information, which more often than not, was useless, as the information extracted was contrived in the desperate mind of someone whose only thought was to stop the pain, to say anything, confess to any crime, implicate any person, even those he loved to make the pain stop.

We were taught of the Nuremberg Tribunals at the close of World War Two and of the unbelievably bestial behavior of the Nazis in their death camps, of the brutalization of an entire generation of human beings, of wholesale torture and the wanton slaughter of millions that followed.

We were taught that “following orders” was no excuse for participating in, or ignoring the use of methods like torture or reprisal killings, as some orders were unlawful and it was our responsibility to know the difference. We executed many in Germany and Japan who were found to have violated conventions that we and other like thinking nations had established as fundamental rules of human conduct. We imprisoned many more than we executed.

I reached adulthood believing that America had evolved to a point of ethical leadership in a world that had been horribly scarred by those who used torture and terror, who used fear and death as instruments of State policy. I took pride in my belief that we, America, as a nation had risen above such inhuman behavior and had learned to operate on an elevated plateau of conduct. In short I grew to believe that my country could claim to be among the most civilized of nations.

At the age of twenty my youthful naiveté was tested by an all expenses paid trip to Vietnam. I discovered in the process of that experience that much of the negativity being reported about my country was true, the reports of Phoenix programs and other secret and not so secret efforts of my government turned my youthful naiveté into full blown distrust of the American government and it’s intelligence and military apparatus.

After Vietnam we went from one fiasco to another for the same fraudulent reasons, in Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and on through Grenada and Panama misspending the flower of our youth, aiding in the brutalization of the poor and politically disenfranchised of other nations and trashing American integrity on remote and largely secret battlefields, in an effort to prop up corrupt dictatorships supported by even more corrupt American corporations.

By the time that George Bush the younger was appointed to serve as regent by the judicial minions of corporate America our government was fully in the control of the plutocrats and oiligarchs, for whom conscience, compassion and national honor had become nothing more than pathetically sad, liberal, loser jokes.

Enough.

America is not about torture.

Not my America. Not this land of my birth. Not the country that I volunteered to serve when called to service by an idealistic young President.

I have friends who have said to me recently and a government that has told me repeatedly that we can no longer follow the rules because our enemies do not follow the rules, and I say to them all: Bullshit!

I have friends who have said to me recently and a government that has told me repeatedly that everything changed after 9/11, and I say to them all: Bullshit!

One terrorist act or a thousand does not change fifty thousand years of human development, of philosophy and religion, of right and wrong of love and beauty and art.

There is only one America and it is the one that was held up to me by my Parents and Grandparents, by my teachers and my government as a beacon of freedom and justice, honor and integrity, honesty, compassion and justice.

I will permit no other America to exist on this Earth, nor should you.

Repeat after me:

America does not torture.

Bob Higgins
Worldwide Sawdust

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Why is it so hard for the neocons to grasp the concept that two wrongs don’t make a right; that someone else violating a legal or ethical standard doesn’t mean that suddenly there are no rules and we can act on any impulse?

There’s a nice little story about two friends, one a Quaker, who went for an evening walk and stopped at a newsstand. The Quaker bought a paper. The vendor was surly and nasty, but the Quaker smiled and thanked him politely. As they walked on, his friend commented that the vendor had been in an ugly mood; the Quaker said, “Oh, he’s always like that.” The friend asked, “So why were you so nice to him?” The Quaker answered, “Why should I let him decide how I behave?” It’s on a different level from torture and murder, but it’s the same principle. We have an obligation to decide what kind of behavior we believe in, then act that way, no matter what.

This is an ugly strain that’s been rising in American culture for a long time; one symptom has been the rise in the popularity of vengeance as a theme in popular entertainment. Seems to me that it coincided with the growth of “me-ism” and greed as an accepted value system in the Reagan 80s, but who knows... it’s obvious that we need to get back to a more civilized set of values.

6 comments:

Debra said...

From your blog to the world's eyes. Bravo! My sentiments (not that I'm important) exactly.

America does not torture! and anyone who thinks it is worth destroying our nation in revenge upon people who no longer exist needs some therapy. Our moral high ground looks more like quicksand and that makes me both sad and mad.

Bring my country back.

Tom said...

Why is it so hard for the neocons to grasp the concept that two wrongs don’t make a right;

I'm convinced the neocons lack the basic human trait of empathy. For instance, one of them could pull the wings off a butterfly and not have a repulsive emotion because of it. It's the same thing with torture and capital punishment. They are simply flawed in a sociopathic way.. just the same as the serial killer that feels nothing.

I truly believe that "conservatives" were abused as children, either phsyically or mentally, or both, which makes them much more capable of externalizing their anger in an "eye for an eye" sort of way.

I was reading on the blog of the freeper I like to taunt, his view of the Gitmo prisoners that killed themselves. He took a strange sort of glee in it, as if he enjoys the suffering of others - as if they are the "bad guy" that won't hurt anybody anymore. The idea that the dead might have been innocent, were held without charge or trial means nothing to him. They were the "bad man" and they deserved to die..

In short - conservatives are mentally ill.. and I'm not being flippant about that.

KoalaBear said...

Tom, you are sick, you are ignorant, and you are a bigot to boot.

Those three Gitmo prisoners? They killed themselves because that was their best feasable option for inflicting the maximum damage on the United States from their position. They weren't innocent. I'm disgusted that they were allowed to live long enough to enjoy their cell in Cuba.

When they took up arms against my country, in the name of a cause that would see all Americans dead, I stopped feeling empathy for them, and started wanting them dead. It is not anger that wants them dead, nor is it hate. It is my happiness in being free, and my love of my family, both of which they threaten.

There will come a sad day, when people like me will decide to not waste our bullets defending people like you. It will not be because we lack empathy for you. It will be because you empathize with those who would kill us.

I for one pray that day never comes, but if it does, good luck casting your lot with the poor ex-Gitmo detainees. Better you and your family than me and mine, I'd say. How's that for your lack of empathy?

KoalaBear said...

The fact is that I would gladly defend my neighbors, who have a 50/50 shot at being sick fucks just like you, against anyone who would do them harm. The fact is that there are men and women dying every day doing just that.

Fuck you. You don't know the first goddamned thing about empathy, you weak, sniveling, worthless pieces of shit.

John in Atlanta said...

koalabear - what a moron you are. Just where do you get your flawed information? How do you know the "suiciders" (chimpy's term) took up arms against your country? Nobody knows who the detainees are or what they are unlawfully being held for with no charges being filed and without a trial.

I'd like to believe that America is still better than that but I now know we aren't. And it will remain that way as long as that braindead fucktard you support is still in office.

Doesn't say much for your level of intelligence when you are among a small minority of Americans who not only still fall for this administrations bullshit but you actually cheer on the dispicable acts that they perpetrate.

The really frightening thing is that you are still allowed to vote.

Tom said...

Indeeed, he makes my point exactly in his response. What an incredible irony it would be for him to be imprisoned without charge for a crime that he did not commit. Many of the prisoners released from gitmo were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, and were not in any way connected to any "insurgency".

The problem with his style of thinking is it's complete lack of logic. For instance, he says;

There will come a sad day, when people like me will decide to not waste our bullets defending people like you.

His assumption then is that only conservatives fight the wars, which is certainly not the case. In fact, conservatives have a much higher propensity to "defer". My father was a highly decorated WWII vet, so it was people like him that defended people like Koalabear.

It's a stunning display of ignorance and total subserviance to the administrations propaganda that makes him believe that opposing an unjust war is somehow un-American, or makes us "weak". On the contrary, it makes us critical thinkers and opposing unjust wars is the moral thing to do.

Furthermore, his ignorance simply lumps all the Muslims in one category of "they want to kill us". It's the same sort of thinking that lead to the holocaust, where an entire race is branded. To the unthinking thug, violence is the only remedy, which is why I truly believe they were exposed to it, or victimized by it early in childhood.

Koalabear should read "Rise and Fall of the Third Reich", and maybe he'd see the paralells in his thinking and that of many German citizens in the first half of the 20th century. It truly is identical.

“Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”

Know who said that Koalabear?