Tuesday, November 6, 2007

No Greater Shame

By NanceGreggs

An Open Letter to My Fellow Citizens:

Regardless of whatever political differences may exist between us, now is the time for all good Americans to stand up and say that torture is not now, never has been, and never will be acceptable.

We have survived the loss of our fellow Americans in the Civil War and two World Wars, in Viet Nam and other conflicts, and continue to do so in Afghanistan and Iraq.

We have survived the turbulence of the civil rights movement and desegregation, the insanity of McCarthy and the HUAC hearings, the constant threat of nuclear holocaust being unleashed by other nations – or even our own.

And yet we emerged on the other side of it all, wounded but intact, stronger as a result of lessons learned, bound together by a sense of purpose and an ideology that decreed, simply yet emphatically, that we were above certain behavior; conduct that separated us from those less enlightened, those less intelligent, those less civilized.

Never before have we, as a people, faced such a true crisis of faith as we do now. Because through every struggle, every disagreement, every conflict of opinion as to who we are, and what we stand for as a country, torture was something we collectively refused to sanction as part of our conduct.

Torture; the very word is repugnant to true patriots, no less the actions associated with its use. And yet here we are, hearing our elected representatives discussing it, promoting it, embracing it, thereby discounting the value of every life ever lost in the cause of democracy, of freedom, of being a nation that holds itself out as representing something far above such barbarism.

We have heard torture being intellectualized, as though it were some theoretical discussion that does not involve pain deliberately inflicted on a fellow human being – a dispassionate view the Nazis perfected as they tortured concentration camp inmates without regard to human suffering.

We have heard torture being touted as necessary to protect our country from those who would do it harm. And yet no one supportive of this claim has any explanation as to how the torture of a Guantanamo Bay detainee, who has had no contact with the outside world for years, can provide any useful information that would lead to uncovering any current plot against us. No one has yet to show the proof of torture having resulted in anything of value, nor have its proponents deigned to discuss the very real fact that information obtained through torture is often fabricated to ensure release from the pain, and is therefore so misleading as to draw attention and action away from actual threats that may exist.

We have heard the sorriest of excuses ever uttered by anyone who has ever lived on the face of the earth: “But they do it, so why shouldn’t we?” We know that refusing to torture may not save one of our own from such treatment if captured by an enemy. But we also know that our use of torture does nothing to discourage that practice by the enemy – and, in fact, we know that it undoubtedly encourages it.

We have heard torture dismissed as being equivalent to a fraternity hazing, something to be laughed about after-the-fact over cocktails at alumni get-togethers – as though bloodied, broken, mutilated bodies are simply representative of those who didn’t make the cut, who couldn’t take a joke.

And there is one more thing that those who would lead us down this path will never speak about, and that is the innocent. You won’t hear a word about those who have been tortured being totally innocent of any wrongdoing; nor will you hear the undeniable fact that torture, especially of the innocent, breeds hatred against those who engage in its practice, hatred that not only creates but emboldens enemies who would strike at us to avenge the spilling of innocent blood.

I want you, my fellow citizens, to close your eyes and imagine your son, your daughter, your parent, your grandparent, your spouse, your best friend suffering unbelievable pain, crying out for a moment’s respite, begging for mercy and finding none. Now I want you to recognize the fact that every person who is being tortured as we speak is someone’s child, someone’s loved one.

There are only two sides to this issue, and they are not Republican/Democratic, liberal/conservative, right/left; there is simply the right side and the wrong side.

And the time has come for each of us to decide which side we are on, and act accordingly.

I urge each of my fellow citizens to contact their representatives and tell them, without equivocation, that our nation does not stand for torture, and remind them that your future votes, political support, and campaign contributions will be reflective of that position.

We have already, as a nation, ventured far beyond that line that should not be crossed; too many have skipped merrily along that inviting garden path of better-safe-than-sorry-what-ifs – a road littered with doubts and fear-induced recriminations that can never truly be undone, forgotten, nor repented for.

But it is not too late to step back from the edge of the abyss, and refuse to be led like sheep by those who are of lesser morals than We The People.

We know in our hearts that what is wrong, what is immoral, what is unjust, what is despicable cannot be allowed even the slightest chink through which to insinuate itself into our conduct, no less be given fertile ground in which to take hold and prosper.

In spite of all of the vitriol that may exist between us as citizens of differing political beliefs, if we cannot stand together on this issue as citizens, our nation is truly lost.

Posted in full with permission of author.

Originally posted at democraticundergrouns.com: http://journals.democraticunderground.com/NanceGreggs/298

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