Tuesday, February 15, 2005
( 7:25 AM )
If you don't regularly read Jeanne D'Arc over at Body and Soul, you're simply crazy. But yesterday she said a good amount of what I have been thinking lately, but wasn't able to put it into words as well. The fact is, our country's leaders are condoning the torture of human beings. Except for a small percentage of really twisted people, the general opinion is that torture is unacceptable form of "diplomatic relations" conducted by this country. There was some debate over Gonzales, sure. But he still got confirmed without a ripple. I agree with Jeanne - this has got to be a more serious issue for us. We can't just keep complaining, we've got to be much more on the offensive about it. We can't allow our country to continue to go down a path that will destroy it - are we really patriots if we don't stop things like this? One way to do that is to find ways to cross this political/ideological divide that has entrenched itself in our country since Bush has been president.
Second, we live in a partisan world, in which the majority of people are firmly committed to one team or the other, and simply won't hear what comes from the other team. I objected yesterday to Sullivan saying that both sides share equal blame for the ways partisanship has interfered with people's ability to comprehend this scandal. That's nonsense. But it is nonetheless true that Sullivan -- and other conservatives -- can communicate with people who will dismiss anything people like me say before we even say it. Can they convince a significant number of people? Color me doubtful. But I think they can change the nature of the debate, so that it's no longer so easy to throw out the myth of a few bad apples at one chaotic, female-run prison. And once you damage that myth, the torturers and their supporters are on the defensive. They have to justify the unjustifiable.
I want them on the defensive.
It's time that people see past the few sexual-innuendo photos from Abu Ghraib and move beyond the "few bad apples" excuse. If it takes one of theirs (Sullivan) to get the point across, then so much the better. It is unconscionable that the leadership of this country is not on the defensive about this horrific scandal, and that its talking heads and spokespeople are not on the run from every decent human being who is a citizen of this nation.
Torture, people. Have we really thought about what that means?
UPDATE: I'm bringing these links out of the comments in case some don't read them. There appears to be an ongoing complaint that there is no PROOF of the systemic torture and that we are just complaining and pointing fingers with no evidence. This is a ridiculous argument and merely hides the laziness and denial of those who do not wish to actually take part as citizens of this country in making this country stand for what it should (ie: not torture).
Andrew Sullivan (yes, the conservative) had an article in the Times a month ago pointing out that the photos released to the general public have been mere distractions from the true scandal of this horrific practice by our country's representatives. Of course the International Red Cross's investigation last year has been proven again and again to be correct, including by being backed up by official US documents. Already, we are seeing more investigations start into the wide practice of torture and mistreatment of prisoners, and new evidence is still emerging about the inhumane behavior of interrogators towards prisoners in Guantanamo Bay and Iraq. Whether you care about the world's opinion of us or not, your misled belief that America can remain a moral and forceful leader in this world with this kind of evidence mounting will find you putting your false faith in a national leadership that is NOT looking out for your good as a citizen and your putting your energy NOT into being a contributing citizen of this country. Your denial only speaks to your refusal to see truth that is plainly available and evident.