It’s advent, the most wonderful time of the year. The boughs of holly are out. The lights are up. The news is all about murder by police officers, false rape accusations, and torture.
It’s not a terribly jolly way to start the holiday season.
But no decent person can ignore the torture report. Here is a good summary of the horrors that were revealed. It’s not for the faint of heart.
The eight amendment of our Constitution bans “cruel and unusual punishments”. Throughout American history, we have refrained from using torture because we’re better than that. Even during World War II, when the very existence of the free world was threatened by fascism, we did not torture. Nor during the Civil War, World war I, or the Korean War, or any other conflict. Torture was morally wrong and we knew it.
But then came George W. Bush, and we started down the road to hell. He has a lot to answer for. So does everyone else who participated in this in any way.
President Obama has done many things wrong, but at least he stopped all use of torture. That, however, does not protect the USA against the shame and disgrace that this brings.
Sadly, the standard response from Republicans seems to be unrepentant. Last night I was at the gym, and had the misfortune to spend thirty minutes on a treadmill with Bill O’Reilly’s face right in front of me. O’Reilly’s argument to me seems to be: we didn’t torture anyone, and it was right for us to torture people. Of course he was full of euphemisms: we have “detainees” rather than prisoners, we use “enhanced interrogation techniques” rather than torture. And of course he couldn’t point out a single statement in the report that wasn’t true. There you go. That’s the Republican position.
Having left the Democratic Party and become more conservative, I find myself sympathetic to Republican positions on many issues. But until the Republican leadership takes a clear stance against torture, there’s no chance that I’ll vote for them.