The single best aspect of starting your own blog is that you retain the final word in editorial discretion. Sure, there is a certain weight of responsibility that comes with it; the success of my fledgling attempt at escaping nine-to-five slavery could be derailed by any individual foot-in-mouth moment that evoked more ire than appreciation. But ignoring that burden is one of my finest attributes, were I to re-characterize a possible character flaw optimistically. Further, were I to philosophically chase my own tail on the issue that I’m hedging towards with this introduction, eventually I would catch it and land on this final, determinant factor: I started a blog because I was disappointed by the state of global affairs, and also what appears to be the inevitable fulfillment of some dire predictions levied by many a previous literary generation in regards to the impermanence of ideals. As an American, I see my country constantly outmaneuvered into trading away a pound of freedom here, and an ounce of pride there, nickel-and-dimed into a nation that can arguably no longer be said to command the moral authority necessary to “lead the world.”
It’s not my intent to come across as blatantly un-patriotic; rather, I adore the bed-time tales of an America dedicated to being the physical embodiment of “Enlightenment” ideals. John Locke may have wept to see a nation founded that held so dearly much of his work.
So here is where the primped language ends, and my knee begins to scrape my teeth. Torture is wrong. I’ll let that simple statement stand without embellishment, it’s easy enough to understand while written plainly. Also, if my dear reader was feeling disappointed at that being the moment I acted hesitant towards, it wasn’t. My elaboration is.
I seethe to know that Imperial America has traded the soul of our nation away for a moment of expedience in “hunting terrorists.” Congratulations on proving your critics’ point for them, Pentagon. Wasn’t torture one of the things that we claimed supplied us the moral grounds to depose Saddam Hussein? Do we remember Uday and Qusay? Good, maybe Dick (no seriously, I’m not the only one to find that name ironic, am I?) Cheney supplied Xi Jinping with the moral relativism to depose an American leader. Of course it won’t happen, what with the vast, vast majority of the world preferring not to end life on earth in a nuclear holocaust, the point I’m trying to make is that the facade is chipping away.
An America that tortured detainees has lost its’ pretense of being the bastion of freedom in the world. That particular claim has probably been null for generations, but at least America had something of a conscience in the Vietnam era. At least then, her citizens got off their damned couches to voice some sort of belief.
I need to address the Right Wing consensus that I’m spitting on right now. The belief was something along the lines of: “Oh, torture those goddamn A-rabs if it means saving American lives.” What else would have saved American lives, would have been following the Founders’ advice of staying the hell out of the geopolitical fudge-factory of entangling alliances. A very poignant example of these is the one that made us tell Ho Chi Minh to “take a hike” when he showed up in New York in 1948 with a draft version of the Vietnamese Declaration of Independence, which very touchingly quoted the American original at length. However, we saw an advantage in placating the French and their colonial claims, and it happened that Kruschev was there in New York to offer Ho Chi Minh succor in our stead. By 1953, when General Giap forced the surrender of the French garrison at Dien Bien Phu, the stage was set to divide an innocent nation and turn its’ brothers against each other. This has been the “freedom” that America brings.
It is to my great frustration that so many Americans have ignored a knee-deep slog through the dead canaries warning them that something has been going wrong. America has killed her own citizens via drone strikes, for crimes alleged and not tried in due process of the law. The Associated Press was wire-tapped. We have no reasonable expectation of privacy, and many among the citizenry honestly believe that it’s for their own good! The rhetorical garments that these events come cloaked in are not sufficient for the suspension of The Rule of Law, as it took thousands of years of human oppression to arrive at it. How have we become so ignorant as to ignore the terrible history of our species prior to the establishment of that doctrine which stated that it was unacceptable for leaders to govern from beyond the law?
An America that tortures people has nothing but a new rhetorical twist between the justification of torturing foreigners and doing the same with its’ own people. I will shut up about it when someone shows me where the powers-that-be will be forced to roll the permissive attitude towards torture back. If it doesn’t happen now, it won’t in our lifetimes. Doubtlessly, President Obama will issue some statement of condemnation regarding the practices of the previous administration, while refusing to admit fault with his own. Wonderful.
Opinion by Brian Whittemore