Monday, April 27, 2009

Not In Our Name

'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.' - Martin Luther King

I'm not sure if enough people are talking about this.

I've been avoiding it myself. Looking at the issue straight in the eye. See the character of the American people through the actions of our leaders. Honestly, I don't want to. But much like that nagging small voice inside your head, you must relent and deal with it.

Part of the strategery in releasing these memos is that it forces us to talk about it. Everyday people, beyond the mainstream media. Some would like to frame this debate as 'leftwing' issue. Some have even attempted to phrase the conversation in this way:

It’s hard for me to look at a great nation issuing these documents and sending them out to the world and thinking, ‘Oh, much good will come of that.’ Sometimes in life you want to keep walking… Some of life has to be mysterious.
- Peggy Noonan

On the interwebs, populist outrage seems to be simmering. Andrew Sullivan and Ta'hesi Coates for the Atlantic Monthly have written about it.And again, we have Shepard Smith, with his flashes of outrage. This guy's done a song about it, Jon Stewart reported it satirically on the Daily Show, Nick Flynn wrote a brilliant essay about it in Tin House last year, George Saunders wrote satirical story about it for the New Yorker, and yet, I sort of get the feeling that we're not angry enough.

We are avoiding talking about it. It's ugly. It's ugly like lynchings, serial killers, interning Japanese American citizens, rape, police brutality, eugenics projects, and slavery. It's the dark side of the force that everyone tries to forget.

For what good is this great republic if we can't be honest and be held accountable for our crimes? How dare we say that we're the moral compass to the world when we're unwilling to prosecute crimes committed by our leaders? When did we let our fear forfeit the rule of law?

The most damning realization in my reading these memos, the Red Cross Report, the Senate Arms Services Committee Report, and other sources to deconstruct the issue is this: Torture became policy. Torture suborned confessions to support the invasion of Iraq. Torture was policy and vehicle to support a political and agenda.

And that realization sends chills down my spine. It makes me weep. I hope I'm not alone.

Torture is wrong. Waterboarding is torture. There, I said it. And I will say it again and again. We all should. And we can't stop until officials of the previous administration are brought to justice and are held accountable for their crimes against humanity and the republic.

photo: © syreeta mcfadden 2009

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