Tuesday, June 21, 2005

I Need Some Outrage

I was kind of hoping that my week away from the internet and constant exposure would some how magically renew my damaged “soul” but I am afraid I “mis-underestimated” the depth to which the right would stoop.
The right wing whackos are now calling Senator Durbin a traitor for repeating what an FBI agent reported and being aghast at the abuse of prisoners at Gitmo. They are deliberately twisting his remarks and saying that he is calling all American soldiers Nazi’s. The are lying with their eyes wide open and hoping the sheep follow right along.
What is so frightening is that they seem to be succeeding into morphing the question of whether torture of prisoners is right or wrong but one of treason for even admitting that it is being done.

I actually think my psyche is being overwhelmed. We really can’t let this happen.

I don’t think the average American realizes what a serious impact this kind of behavior on the part of Americans means to the rest of the world and to ourselves. The moral cost is monstrous. Americans like to see themselves as a moral people. We look with pride on our historic fights for human rights and freedom. Remember that we, as Americans, don’t have an ancient history of thousands of years nor any great traditions that act as the glue for the country. All we have is our short history and our resistance to tyranny here and abroad to give ourselves meaning. This is all we have and mistreating prisoners and then refusing to admit it makes the world see our moral claims and “holier-than-thou” attitude as meaningless hypocrisy. Worse, it removes all our own claims to a national identity based upon what’s right, fair and good. If the country as a whole ever lets what has been going on in our name really sink in it will be a huge deflation of the national ego. All the morality aside, there is also our defense of the “rule of law” as a foundation of American democracy. Forget the absolute moral collapse; consider the collapse of the law. We harp endlessly on the fact that no country or government is above the law while at the very same moment ignoring our most solemn commitments to international law regarding the treatment of prisoners. What is left to us if there is no law left for us to revere?

Ever since the short outrage over the photographs from Abu Ghraib prison it seems we have become immured to the daily reports, if they are even carried by American media, of the cruelties and indignities inflicted on prisoners at Gitmo. Not only are we seeming to ignore Gitmo we seem also immune to the reports of prisoners being beaten to death by American soldiers and of unknown numbers of others held in secret locations by the CIA and others rendered for torture to places like Uzbekistan. Have Americans ceased to care?
We are a party to The Geneva Conventions, which protect people captured in conflict, and they prohibit "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment." We are quick to claim them for our own troops but we allow Bush and company to ignore them with impunity?
We are also a party to the United Nations Convention Against Torture which requires signatories to "prevent in any territory under its jurisdiction ... cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment." But we allow the Bush administration to declare this provision doesn’t apply to the treatment of non-Americans held outside the United States?
Lastly, there is the Uniform Code of Military Justice which makes cruelty, oppression or "maltreatment" of prisoners a crime. Have we allowed Bush to trump even our own law?

This situation is really dragging me down as I wait for the outrage. Where is the outrage? Where is the impeachment?

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