Reading an old (August 2006) Rolling Stone magazine article about Omar Khadr's unending torture at Guantanamo Bay did a reversal on my universe. Yes, I read accounts of torture there before, and yes, they claim to have "changed" things at Gitmo, meaning supposedly stopped the torture, and yes, after reading about it in numerous publications previously, I went back to my daily life, ultimately, to my own struggles, thoughts, needs, etc. So why now does everything change?
Omar Khadr is my brother, or my son. Omar Khadr is not a terrorist, even if he committed alleged "terrorist acts." Were those acts any more terrifying, or I should say, horrifying, than what has been committed on him? Does this even fit into the equation for a 15-year-old? Is even 25-year-old "mature" enough to make this treatment somehow "conscionable"? Or how about "expedient"? Or how about "serves A purpose"? Could it be the "purpose" of democracy? Democracy. Torture. God forbid. If that's what American democracy means, then America is dead. The dream is dead. Many still live in the dream, of course. When a star dies, it's not a matter of an instant. There's a turning point, a virtual instant, and then there's the long drawn-out aftermath, the Supernova, the glorious death throes. Welcome to the cemetery of the stars.
What is even more amazing is that the star of this show is not the Supernova. America insists on playing Bully, in this case, villain, or to use Bush's word, "evil." So the Hero is ... Omar Khadr. A young boy who had, by circumstance, not choice, to fight as a man before he could grasp what that man. His adolescence took place in the Eternal Torture Chamber that is Guantanamo. And yet he did not give in. His identity was erased, psychologically removed by torture. Yet he still retains his soul. That is not only miraculous, and it is very miraculous. It is incredibly heroic.
We elevate to heroic status people who fight disease. Nothing wrong with that. It takes bravery to endure the pain of cancer, for example, or its treatment. But to endure systematic torment and extreme cruelty in that vulnerable age, with no human contact allowed - tell me, who of you could retain your soul or any of your values? Who would maintain their integrity at ANY age??
Ask George W. Bush, who ordered Omar's torture. Ask Dick Cheney, who condoned it. Ask anyone in the administration who sees this as a "necessary evil". Ask Pat Robertson, who never read the line "Even if you have done it to the least of these, you have done it also unto me." Is Omar Khadr the least of these? Or is he of a character so high, so elevated, that few human beings actually ever attain it? Or does he represent the highest point of the human soul, shining like a pure light, at the absolute dregs of the lowest, sleeziest, most heinous, most cruel, most senseless, most depraved, most ominously sinister and hateful evil imaginable? And this is what we want young Americans to die for? To be able to torture the oppressed in the name of freedom? To humiliate others so we can exalt ourselves? Is that America? Is that democracy? Is that freedom? Or is there even America any more? What kind of nation condones this kind of thing? What kind of nation trains its young, its brave, to be torturers of minors? I refuse to accept that this nation is America. So the only explanation is this: America is dead.
We are fulfilling the threat we imagined these "terrorists" posed. We claim they threaten our freedom. So we eliminate that freedom. At least nobody ELSE took it. We claim they threaten democracy. So we undermine our own. At least THEY no longer threaten something that no longer exists. We claim they threaten us with evil. So we commit atrocities. At least THEY never told us to. Attaboy, Mr. Machiavelli - fight atrocity with atrocity, eh? Ohhh, Mr. Newton, please come to clean these guys up! What was that law?...uh, for every action, there's an equal but opposite reaction ...And this is supposed to "curb terrorism." Gee, I guess nobody told them about The Revenge Cycle... It's sort of like the Water Cycle and the Rock Cycle. Only instead of life, it brings death. Then someone said "Death to America". The nerve! Nobody tells us what to do! Apparently we want to get rid of her before someone ELSE can cause her demise. It seems some people in power are hell-bent in destroying the very values that made America ... well, America.
It's very sad. But this is the price of hypocrisy. They say one thing, and they are doing an entirely other thing. They say the Iraq War is for democracy and freedom. But it's just an oil grab, and an Israeli defense line. They say there's WMD's. But they didn't tell you it stands for "W's Main Dig". They say Gitmo is to protect Americans. But they didn't tell you it's for torturing children and innocent adults. They didn't tell you the elections were rigged. And they won't tell you America is dead.