Thursday, April 03, 2008

Torture: "Just Say No" or "Just Do It"


Wabi-Sabi Bits
Originally uploaded by mdt1960
I was having a little lie-down on the front porch the other day and suddenly found myself drawn into the nearly-silenced radio and a debate going on about the harsh interrogations that has been employed by our country—i.e., torture. And it just wasn't any old debate between radio talk show hosts, rather this was between a panel of six esteemed thinkers on the topic and its related areas.

Torture is something I've never believed in because it is a detour from the moral high road—no matter the conflict. Yet, I've never given it much thought or expressed my disapproval. But this debate changed all of that. In particular the comments from one of the panelist whom I'd never heard of until that day—Darius Rejali, Professor of Political Science at Reed College in Portland, Oregon.

Rejali's brief closing comments solidified my anti-torture thoughts when he stated the following:

"Is it better to be loved or feared? Loved or feared? The correct answer is: If you can fight with one hand tied behind your back and win, you will be loved and feared. And that's the American way. If you want to be merely loved, you will be despised and if you really want to be feared, you will be despised."

In the comments from the panelist who opposed Professor Rejali and his two colleagues, there was a consistent reference to the severe conviction, commitment and determination possessed by today’s enemy—"something we've never seen before." I don’t doubt this intensity found in these militants, yet I wondered about my father who served during World War II and the Korean War. Did he think the Japanese were less convicted, determined, or committed in their cause than our so-called enemy of “Muslim extremist” our forces face today? And, didn’t we fight that war (somewhat) with that one hand tied behind our back?

Here is the link to the debate. I dare you to listen in.

1 comment:

Thomas said...

Wow - that closing statement is great and I really like the whole post. Great thoughts...

For me there can be no doubt and no compromise on torture. It's no, never, can't. It's not a slippery slope, it's a trapdoor.

I'm German, born in the late 60s and when I was a child my parents' generation was in awe of the Americans who came - and after kicking the Nazis' ass - then did their best to help the German population. The US was seen as the best friend a nation could have and it was this sentiment that was part of my decision to move to the US.

Ironically, I've now spent the last eight years financing US torture camps with my own taxes...

I can only hope that the next president will put the US back on track. This country has to wake up and see what fear has done to their soul.