Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition

*sigh* At least, nobody expected it would reappear in the 21st century. In the United States.

As I wrote over a year ago, I can't believe we're having this discussion, much less a debate. For the U.S. Senate to be arguing with a nominee to be Attorney General over whether a technique directly out of the Inquisition constitutes torture is sickening. That there are people making not just legalistic hair-splitting arguments, but actual defenses of waterboarding, is appalling.

That one of my senators voted to approve said candidate's nomination is beyond belief. I thought it was bad when she voted to ban flag burning. I am deeply concerned that the moral underpinnings of this country may be lost, that there is not a sufficient number of people who actually understand what is happening to all of us and our reputation in the world.

Scott Horton has another excellent piece in Harper's today:
There is no respectable opinion that can hold waterboarding legal. It is criminal depravity. When we allow its justification as an article of polite conversation, we deal our society and its values a potentially mortal wound.

“Political language. . . is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable,” George Orwell reminded us in “Politics and the English Language.” In the waterboarding debate, Orwell’s warning has found its most literal application.

The ongoing discussion is worrisome, but I am encouraged that so many voices are being raised in opposition. Horton, of course. Christy Hardin Smith at Firedoglake today. Anonymous Liberal had a couple of good posts on the subject yesterday. And Keith Olbermann did another of his excoriating special comments last night. And the LA Times' media watchdog comes out strongly over how the debate is portrayed:
When the media characterize it as a political struggle between the White House and congressional Democrats or as a complex debate over national security in a post Sept. 11 world -- two convenient dodges -- they aren't being realistic or fair. What the media really are doing is engaging in a sophisticated fan dance -- a convenient act of concealment.

What's really at stake is whether this country will continue to stand with the framers of our Constitution and our authentic moral traditions or whether we now will allow Bush and Cheney to put us shoulder to shoulder with Pol Pot.
Wow. I hate that things have gotten to this point, but it is encouraging to hear people speaking out, and speaking out strongly. Keep it up! Public opinion is on the right track on this:
Asked whether they think waterboarding is a form of torture, more than two-thirds of respondents, or 69 percent, said yes; 29 percent said no.

Asked whether they think the U.S. government should be allowed to use the procedure to try to get information from suspected terrorists, 58 percent said no; 40 percent said yes.

Now, why a substantial majority like that doesn't translate into political action, it's hard to say. The invertebrates on Capitol Hill don't seem to get that it's us they need to listen to, not their own echo chamber.

No comments: