Thursday, April 10, 2008
Boy, it must suck
Do you feel how it's all coming apart on you?
I've seen you defending the Yoo memo. You've still got some oomf there, "hey, it's okay if we torture because they cut off heads! Got it? They cut off heads so if we violate every international agreement we've signed about how to treat prisoners, that's okay!"
But I don't think your heart's in it any more. And you know, I guess I can't blame you.
It started off so nice and bright didn't it? Before anyone complained about prisoner mistreatment at Guantanemo, you were passing around chain letters talking about how the prisoners are well fed and getting excellent medical care, and oh, how those awful traitorous liberals were complaining about how the prisoners were being treated.
You kinda missed how stupid that was, didn't you? To start defending yourself before any attack was made? But it seemed like such a good idea at the time, and doesn't it feel good to get angry at those awful liberals who would have held us to one of our founding principles?
Seriously... treating prisoners well is one of our founding principles. George Washington, in the face of stories that the British were mistreating colonials, insisted that we would do better by our captives. Now, granted, he wasn't facing having his head cut off; no he might have been facing something really fun, like drawing and quartering. I can't be sure of that; I'm not a historical lawyer, but I did check, and note that the last time the British did that was in the 1800s, long after the end of the Revolutionary War. That's where they hang you for a bit, not enough to kill you, then open you up and pull your guts out and toss them in a fire. I've heard different stories about how you die; the references list a couple of ways, including taking out your organs until they reach your heart, and others saying they just start hacking your body apart once they've yanked your guts out, but does it matter?
He was facing charges of treason, and they would have invoked their harshest punishments against him, to make an example of him, and I doubt even their best punishments for treason were gentle. But he had courage, and a sense of morality, and insisted we would treat British prisoners humanely.
But forget about people like him; you don't care about wimpy liberal folks like that, do you? No, you want to think about another George W. and his brilliance in battle, right?
Except you couldn't for very long, could you? Because then the word started leaking out. A lot of those prisoners who you insisted were "the worst of the worst" turned out to be innocent. And then, the incidents of torture started slipping out, but you still had control, so all you had to do was scream and shout about how awful they were - forgetting how many of them weren't awful at all - and it all seemed okay.
But then Abu Ghraib leaked out. People saw what happened when you let folks like the Bush administration be in charge of prisoners. But no, you insisted, it was just a few bad apples.
And now, with the Yoo memo, and revelations that the top members of the Bush administration were involved, it wasn't a few bad apples at the bottom of the barrel, it was rotting corruption up top. Now you're running out of steam aren't you?
Someday, someday soon, the awful reality will start to fall around you. You'll realize that you've supported some truly despicable behavior, and the claim that "well, our enemies were worse!" will fall kind of flat, given how many innocent people got caught up along the way.
It's really going to suck.
I'll tell you: if you start the repudiation of torture now, you'll look a lot better than those who have to have their faces rubbed in it.