Monday, February 23, 2009
Thinkbridge Is Back - Let's Hope Torture Is Not
It's been over 10 days, the news is excreting at a rate that is positively diarrheal, and here is this blogger, stuck in a constipated time warp. There's the wonderful news that Obama signed a ban on torture and a return to the Army Field Manual. Add to that his order to close Gitmo. Tempered by that nasty court case indicated that the reversal won't be so clear-cut.
But Slumdog Millionaire's rise to the top of the Oscars is seen in the slums of Mumbai as a victory for them. Let's hope the same happens for the rights of the criminally accused, war on terror or otherwise. There's no such thing as an untouchable, and there's no such thing as an "unconventional" human being. An accusation is just that. An accusation. It's not a conviction. There's always the possibility that the accused could be innocent. Yet GW Bush was hell-bent on torturing - I repeat, torturing - the accused, even though the U.S. has always maintained that such torture doesn't produce a real, admissible confession.
"Unconventional". That was the Republicans' excuse for torturing the accused and throwing away the presumption of innocence. These were not human beings. These were unconventional human beings. I suppose it goes with the appellation of "aliens" as applied to migrants. Words are important. So when a man is called a "terrorist", regardless of whether he actually committed or contributed to any acts of terrorism,
it whets the appetite for revenge, hence torture.
Torture is not reasonable. It's an emotional "punishment". It is not a technique. It's a way of dehumanizing another human being, when their humanity is disturbing, when it gets in the way, when it threatens the severity of one's rage, one's ego, one's quest for superiority and control over others. And Bush, more than Cheney, was ruled by emotions. He was no thinker. He ruled from the gut. Cheney did not "rule" him, as many think. He brought out that "gut" into the realm of ruthless application.
Let's hope the vestiges of that horrific legacy are truly gone forever, and Obama will really abolish them, and not let the spectre of "national security" (remember the Nazis!) allow dehumanizing humans back into th e realm of social acceptibility.