Monday, June 20, 2005

Durbin and Limbaugh on Gitmo

Well, this has been quite the week for over-the-top political rhetoric. First we have Dick Durbin saying that what we are doing at Guantanamo Bay is like what the Nazis did during the Holocaust. Then we have Rush Limbaugh selling Club Gitmo shirts, comparing Gitmo to a tropical resort.

OK. I personally subscribe to the Hitler Rule. Comparing anything but Hitler and the Holocaust to Hitler and the Holocaust is, with a few exceptions, over-the-top rhetoric. But comparing it to a tropical resort is pretty insane too. Does the end of getting information from these prisoners justify the means we are using to get it? (Charles Colson, for example, criticized Mark "Deep Throat" Felt because even though the end he was aiming at may have been legitimate, the means he used was deceitful and unethical). If we don't have to live up the the standard of the Geneva Accords when it comes to these prisoners, what standards do we have to live up to? Being more ethical than the SS is clearly not enough. So where do we draw the line?

But these are the wicked perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks! Don't we have the right to use any means at our disposal to stop terrorism?

But have we proved that? And even if it were so, aren't there still limits on what we have the right to do to anyone, regardless of what they might have done. I can't imagine a more despicable and cowardly act than the Oklahoma City bombing. Did we have the right to torture Timothy McVeigh to get whatever information we could out of him about his possible confederates before we put him to death?

I realize that some of you who like my metaphysics may not like what I have to say here. (And vice versa). But we must follow the argument where it leads.

4 comments:

Jarrod Cochran said...

I'll attempt to write my comments in order of the blog post.

Comparing your opponents to Hitler and Nazism seem to be the labels of the day. Many of our senators and leaders on "capital" hill have used the Hitler/Nazi comparisons against their opponents who justified the war in Iraq and likewise to those who justified the filibuster and the removal of Terri Schaivo's feeding tube. I think this comparison is ridiculous and needs to end before these leaders further destroy their already critically damaged credibility.

On the other hand, you really cannot believe a word that comes out of Rush Limaugh's mouth. This man is a distorter of truth and a figure who prides himself in helping to further divide our nation. Listen to Rush Limbaugh then read what really happened in the news on www.pbs.org or www.cnn.com (preferably the firs one).

Another point about "Gitmo"; if the only defense you have against the acts of abuse towards Gitmo's prisoners is that they're recieving great meals, you have a pretty poor argument to bring to the table. It's hilarious, like-minded humanitarians will speak out against the abuses that have happened at Gitmo; how there are reports of prisoners being beaten, urinated on, their holy books desecrated, etc.; and the only response back we get is: "Well, they get to eat whatever they want...it's practically a resort!" If a resort vacation includes regular beatings, "golden showers", and desecration of my holy books, then count me out.

I find it hilarious that our nation's leaders believe every report that Amnesty International (a group I am a member of) publishes about abuses in other countries, but when they report about the abuses that stem from our own country, our leaders no longer find them a credible source. Our current administration has turned the corner from living in incompitence to living in a fantasy world.

Chuck Colson, my fellow brother in Christ, has disappointed me with his rhetoric regarding "Deep Throat". I didn't realize that secrecy was a moral value. Of course, this is not the first time that Mr. Colson and have had a differing of viewpoints. Mr. Colson is one of the many evangelicals who believes that we should protect the baby in the womb at all costs; but after the baby is born, it's on its own.

Not all of the people being held at Gitmo are responsible for 9/11, Iraqi violence, nor Afghani violence. According to the Washington Post, out of the 400 people prosecuted thus far from Gitmo, roughly 25 have been convicted of terroristic acts and war crimes. My question: so what are the rest of these people doing there?

A few more things about torture. History has proven that torture does not work. If you tortured me, I'd tell you anything you wanted to know; meaning, if you wanted to know where Osama Bin Laden was, I'd tell you just so you'd quit torturing me. And, our new "reason" for our unjust war with Iraq was to remove Saddam who tortured his people. Now we are accused of doing the same. Where does this leave us as Americans when we become no better than the ones we set out to defeat?

To quote Jim Wallis: President George Bush is a Christian, but he did not listen to any of th U.S. and world church leaders who overwhelmingly opposed the war in Iraq and who warned about many of the "plagues of war" (to use the language of the Vatican) that have transpired since. Perhaps he should listen to religious leaders now. American domination and empire is both bad policy and bad theology, and it will not succeed. Only international initiative and authority have a chance of repairing the damage. The United States must make the major contribution it clearly owes to reconstruction in Iraq, but only under somebody else's leadership. The domination of empire must be abandoned.

It is little wonder why the rest of the world hates us when we continue to let those like Limbaugh, who ignore and attempt to justify America's sins against mankind, to have the loudest voice in this country.

God bless America? No, God bless the world - and please grant America the ability to uphold the ideals we claim to believe in.

Dave said...

We must be clear about a few things. First, the tactics described by Durbin do not even begin to compare with what the Nazi's did, or what Pol Pot did, or what happened in the Gulags. Read your history and compare the two. (If anyone can do that and still value in comparing Guantanamo Bay to a gulag or the interrogators to Hitler, then there probably isn't much point in discussing anything. Black is white and wrong is right.)

Second, compared to what really happened in the gulags or under Pol Pot or Hitler, Gitmo is far better. It's no Club Med, but the prisoners are generally well treated. The interrogation tactics are often tough, but rarely torturous.

Third, these prisoners are enemy combatants. They have a desire to destroy the US and support those who will. Information has been obtained from them which has been useful to our war against terrorism. While there are no easy answers when it comes to torture, clearly when lives are at stake some roughness is acceptable. We can kill in self-defense. Do we really want to hold that that is acceptable but that it is immoral to rough people up?

Victor Reppert said...

David: Fair enough, but my question remains. What are the criteria that we ought to use in determining what are, and are not, appropriate interrogation techniques? Durbin's over-the-top rhetoric is self-defeating and makes him the subject of discussion, instead of Gitmo. Comparisons will not do the job here; yes it's better than an Iraqi prison under Saddam, it can nevetheless be unethical. Some roughness is acceptable, yes you would not expect a convicted murderer to be treated as nicely in prison as he/she treated outside. (Though these people haven't been tried, have they?), but I think we need more than that in the way of criteria.

Jarrod Cochran said...

Those are some very good points David, but I’ll have to side with Victor. If we claim that we as a nation have higher morals than those that we are fighting, then torture should not even be in our thoughts when coming up with ways to interrogate prisoners. Also let me add that there is nothing that justifies the torture of another. If we are torturing our prisoners (many of whom have not even been convicted of a crime yet) then we become no better than the regime we toppled when we took over Iraq.