I stumbled onto the Harper’s Magazine website today, a publication I’d meant to get around to checking out anyway, and read the Weekly Review. Considering most of my news regarding America comes from a brief nose through my RSS feeds (which include CNN) or imported episodes of The Daily Show, I could probably stand to bolster my knowledge with more sources. In just a brief skimming I’ve determined that Harper’s certainly warrants more study. Saying that, I absolutely have to quote something I read in the Weekly Review.
It was reported that the Pentagon has decided to remove a reference to Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions from a new edition of the Army Field Manual on interrogation. That article bans torture and cruel treatment as well as 'outrages on personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment.' The change, which would reverse decades of military policy, follows President Bush’s declaration in 2002 that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to 'unlawful combatants' such as terrorists.
What moral disease is happening in America when its government says cruelty and torture is oky-doky as long as it’s directed at some humans (“unlawful combatants”) but not others – i.e. the ones that don’t deserve it? Terrorism is bad, all are likely in agreement with that, but to turn a blind eye to humane treatment because ignoring it seems to suit a particular type of criminal is just wrong. Clearly even those serving time imprisoned, uncharged, and merely suspected of being “unlawful combatants” are fair game to torture, as we’ve all seen in countless photos and footage from Guantanamo and more. Humans are humans, no matter what crimes against humanity they perpetrate. I dare anyone to claim to hate a terrorist any more than a person that rapes infants. Both are heinously disturbing in their crimes, but is one worse than the other? Shouldn’t both be treated with more humanity than they contribute to society because it is the morally right thing to do? I’m not attempting to go soft on any criminal, rather, I’m just not supporting torture of any human, despite how unpleasant and despicable his crime. That which fundamentally prevents most of us from terrorism and baby raping should prevent us from performing inhumane treatment as well. Torture is never OK.
Aren’t Americans supposed to be the good guys? Freedom fighters and all that? Life and liberty? Equality? Baseball, apple pie, ‘huddled masses’? The Bush administration seems to take a my-way-or-the-highway renegade approach to governing – the examples of which are too numerous to get into here on my little (typically unpolitical) blog – but what are we teaching future generations about cruelty? That it’s OK sometimes, when it’s necessary? People are all too quick to blame movies, music, video games, and TV for the behavioural maladies plaguing society in recent years, but what is the Bush administration, sat upon its self-perceived high horse, teaching us? That it’s OK to torture. It’s OK to wire tap your own citizens. It’s OK to allow the men and women leading the nation through various branches of government to engage in criminal activities, apologise, step down, and white-wash where the stains of mistrust and disgust have dirtied our perceptions. It’s all in the name of Freedom, boys and girls. Sit down, watch TV, vote Republican if you believe in God and Freedom, and let us do our jobs. We know what’s best for you and your family, and if you don’t believe us, we’ve got a windowless room with stains on the walls and a cattle prod with your name on it. God bless.
My America frightens me.