While everyone’s been blogging about their reflections on the semester, my semester isn’t really done yet. I finish next week and leave the 18th. I’ll be reflecting at that time.
Instead, I’d like to take the opportunity to talk another topic: Torture.
Torture is wrong. The killing of Osama bin Laden has dredged up a lot of torture apologists, like John Yoo and Donald Rumsfeld, who have said that without ‘enhanced interrogation’, Osama wouldn’t have been killed. Of course, this is actually very difficult to prove. Who can say what would have occurred if, during the Bush Administration, we hadn’t betrayed our values and dehumanized ourselves? Osama could very well have been found sooner if the people who had information about him weren’t mistreated. Who knows what could have happened?
Moving on from the fact that torture is unnecessary, torture is also un-American. Since World War II, it has been our mission to represent the best of democracy, human rights, etc. We’ve messed up many times in the past decades (My Lai, intervention in Latin America, Iran-Contra), but one thing has remained constant. Torture has never been a part of American policy. We don’t do it. There is something about this War on Terror that has made people feel comfortable setting aside the moral repulsion that necessarily should be felt when considering inflicting pain on another human being to extract information. Somewhere along the line, for some people, it became ‘okay’ to torture because our enemies, the terrorists, don’t play by the same rules as us. This whole blog post rant came about as a result of a Facebook argument I’ve been having with a member of my study abroad program. An avowed Libertarian, he supports torturing prisoners of war to get information because terrorists will stop at nothing to kill us, so we have to do everything possible to ensure that doesn’t happen.
Putting aside for a second the large possibility that some of those tortured were actually innocent, as the process of accessing guilt at Guantanamo and other places is exceedingly slow, I’ll bring up a point I made one time sophomore year during a PLA class. It deserves to be bold.
IF WE’RE WILLING TO GIVE UP THE VALUES WE WERE ORIGINALLY FIGHTING FOR, AND STOOP TO THE LEVEL OF OUR ENEMIES, WE HAVE ALREADY LOST. ANY FURTHER CONFLICT COULD ONLY LEAD, AT BEST, TO A STALEMATE.
I’ll leave you with that.