Monday, June 07, 2010

And Now for Something Not at All Different

Do you need a break from reading about the Gulf of Mexico and weeping? Well, go read this and continue weeping for what we have become. Or maybe for what humanity has always been, what we were supposed to leave behind when George Washington built that city on the hill, but what we have been unable to escape.

Physicians for Human Rights has released a 27-page report which clearly documents what we already know: The Bush Administration tortured detainees. The more startling conclusion is this: The Bush Administration experimented on those detainees in order to refine, define and justify their torture regimen.

Nothing like setting the bar, jumping over it, then defining that bar for everyone else as some sort of standard. Yet that's exactly what they did.

We're not supposed to overreach in our metaphors, in our stark comparisons, for fear of understating the horrors of the Inquisitors and the Nazis while simultaneously overstating the evils perpetrated by our government, in our name. Because we're not that bad. We can't be that bad and still be us, because Americans don't do those things. Except that they have, and they do, and it's been utterly without hesitation or reflection beyond wondering exactly how much shit they--we--can get away with before the stench becomes so bad that even the most resolutely entrenched-in-denial among us can't look the other way any more.

This is not what my grandfathers fought for in World War II, to borrow a meme that's currently popular among right-wing Arizonans aghast that their forebears sweated and bled to allow Mexican gardeners to prune the oleanders in Scottsdale for three bucks an hour. That aside, this is not why they fought, not why my great-uncle Jim was shot down and killed over Hildesheim, not why my grandfather's friend Virgil took a bullet in the spine at Anzio and came home in a wheelchair. It's also not why my brother left the better part of his spirit in Baghdad and not why his best friend bled out in Kandahar. Unfortunately, his buddy's death and the rest of the deaths and maimings he saw on a daily basis mean torture is simply, to him, justified retribution. The rage and hatred of war left him not giving a rat's ass about torture as long as it happened to the bad guys.

Our leadership is supposed to rise above the blood in the eyes of the guys on the ground. It didn't.

1 comment:

Damien Huffer said...

your sharing of this news is appreciated and valuable, but i think i've already hit "weeping/circuitry overload." i'm doing my damndest not to become jaded, but every day makes it that much harder. And NOW it's time to go continue my research on looting and on-line antiquities trading! 'Cause that's the cheeriest subject ever :(