This Is Not My Country
Abu Aardvark made it simple during the election with this inspired post. Basically, a vote for the incumbent was a vote for torture. While Kerry decided to keep mum about Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and Bagram during the election season (to his detriment), I thought that people would realize that the only way to restore decent American values and principles would be to cast a vote against torture.
Well, I was wrong. And as more revelations come out about extraordinary rendition, CIA kidnappings on foreign soil, 11 year-olds at Abu Ghraib, and prisoner abuse and murder all over the globe, the concerns of our shared loss of humanity have gone right down the crapper. This week a law professor and right-leaning blogger named Eugene Volokh practically ejaculated upon learning about an Iranian technique of capital punishment where the victim's family takes part in the killing of the prisoner in a long, painful and public execution. Now, when the Right finds common cause with Iran, that's news in itself. But that a LAW PROFESSOR would be so thrilled to dispense with cruel and unusual punishment in favor of Hammurabi-era barbarism just lays bare where conservatism is headed in a "reductio ad absurbum" kind of way. "We're at war" makes a very nice shield for bloodthirsty, ends-justify-the-means powermongers who, we now learn, actually delight in the brutal murder of those who transgress their personal codes of behavior. By the way, this is the "pro-life" crowd we're talking about. The "life begins at conception, and ends at conviction" crowd, I call them.
This is also the crowd that yells and screams about liberal bias on campus, and the radical "anti-American" views of certain professors under tenure. As if speaking in favor of Iranian torture techniques currently in violation of the Bill of Rights is not anti-American.
The more I read from the Right, with its eliminationist rhetoric, death to all who oppose, and moral relativism that mandates "any means necessary" for the enemy but shock and outrage for the life of a cell, the more I an tempted to think that this is not my country. A country that twists itself into rationalizations and technical legal loopholes to defend torture is not my country. But I am a believer in America and the American people. Average Americans simply don't know (or, more likely, don't want to know) what's being done in their name. Rush doesn't tell them. Neither does Hannity. Sure, there are the Volokhs of the world that will say "get them before they get us" and "terrorists don't deserve our pity, they deserve our swords" and "you just want them to win, don't you," not even understanding how debased the rhetoric of empty vengeance truly is. They'll hide behind the idea that torture is necessary to get information out about terror attacks, knowing that such information gained that way is almost always inaccurate, and also a smokescreen to belie their visceral need to stomp some terrorist ass. We've lost our way in this country, and the road back will take decades. The obstacles in the path of real freedom, real liberty, real justice, these obstacles have hoods on their heads and electrodes on their genitals. Or they're law professors typing away during office hours, imagining a world where they can sate their sanguinary, primal urges to detroy their enemies.
p.s. At least our elected Representatives get this:
U.S. House acts to stop the practice of 'outsourcing torture'
WASHINGTON (CP) - The U.S. House of Representatives voted Wednesday to ban the use of federal money to transfer terror suspects to countries that are believed to torture prisoners, a practice that has drawn fierce criticism of the administration.
The largely symbolic amendment reaffirms a 1994 treaty barring torture of detainees in American custody, whether in the United States or in countries known for human rights violations. The measure was approved 420-2 as part of an $81.4 billion US emergency spending package for combat and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan.
This will almost definitely get stripped out in committee, which is why it enjoyed such enormous support. Democrats Earl Blumenauer of Oregon and Edward Markey of Massachusetts (co-sponsors) understand that our standing in the world is in direct proportion to our moral leadership.