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6.13.2006    |    Torture month
I just found out that June is "International Torture Awareness Month." This message is being brought to us by something called "National Religious Campaign Against Torture". Well, I'm pleased that there is a "religious" campaign against torture, but after seeing who is behind this thing, and what they are saying, I'm not at all sure it's a good thing.

First, the basics, from today's WaPo:
Twenty-seven religious leaders, including megachurch pastor Rick Warren, Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel and Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington, have signed a statement urging the United States to "abolish torture now -- without exceptions."

The statement, being published in newspaper advertisements starting today, is the opening salvo of a new organization called the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, which has formed in response to allegations of human rights abuse at U.S. detention centers in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
This last bit is the giveaway: this isn't about torture; it's about the American endeavor in Iraq and, globally, the war against terror. Else, why single out the United States? How about Sauda Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Cuba, or any of dozens upon dozens of other fly-speck "nations" that have virtually no respect for human rights?

Then there's the question, What, exactly, is "torture"? To many who would coddle terrorists and criminals, it's not having access to HBO while in prison. To most of us, however, torture does not include harsh interrogation, sleep deprivation, or getting wet. Especially not if the individual has critical intelligence that might save innocent lives.

Have there been some abuses at Gitmo and elsewhere? Yes, and we've investigated and punished those responsible. But this is akin to saying that Cardinal McCarrick has no moral standing to bloviate about torture (he's one of the misguided sponsors of this "I hate America fest") because there have been many cases of pedophilia and abuse by priests in the Catholic Church.

It is not the policy of the Catholic Church to allow pedophilia. It is not the policy of the United States to allow actual torture. And, not to put too fine a point on it, there's been far more incidents of perversion and sexual crimes in the Catholic Church than there's been actual torture in our war on terror lockups.

What we seem to have here are selective perfectionists, whose main goal, intended or not, is to hinder our national security while hiding behind their clerical collars.


Blogger elendil said...

Else, why single out the United States? How about Sauda Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Cuba, or any of dozens upon dozens of other fly-speck "nations" that have virtually no respect for human rights?

Several people have asked me and other Bloggers Against Torture about this. I've put a short summary here (scroll down to "some more thoughts"). I should note that the response there is designed as a helper for other bloggers for a particularly adversarial form of the question. But I'm sure you can glean out the meaning. Basically, you've started with a faulty premise.

What, exactly, is "torture"?

I've got a list of incidents collected on my own blog. If you go through them, you'll see techniques like electrical torture are common (e.g. Asamiya Palace, Thahe Mohammed Sabbar, Mohammed Surur, Kurnaz, Habib). I don't know of anyone who would deny that electric shocks are a form of torture -- it's almost the torture cliche.

Yes, and we've investigated and punished those responsible.

Unfortunately, no. No one higher up the chain of command has been punished. This upsets me in particular, because it seems those commanders are happy to trick their subordinates into to taking the blame while they get off scot-free. I never did understand why certain groups seemed happy to accept their "troops" being used as scape-goats. I've got an index called "accountability & cover-ups" that covers this topic on my blog I mentioned before, if you care to find out more.

5:54 PM, June 13, 2006  

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About this site and the author

Welcome. My name is John Luke Rich, (very) struggling Christian. The focus here is Christianity in its many varieties, its fussing and feuding, how it impacts our lives and our society, with detours to consider it with other faiths (or lack thereof).

Call this blog my way of evangelizing on the internet.

Putting it differently, we're only here on this earth a short time. It's the rest of eternity that we should be most concerned about. Call it the care and feeding of our souls.

I was born Jewish, and born again in Christ Jesus over thirty years ago. First as a Roman Catholic; now a Calvinist by persuasion and a Baptist by denomination. But I'm hardly a poster boy for doctrinal rigidity.

I believe that Scripture is the rock on which all Christian churches must stand -- or sink if they are not so grounded. I believe that we are saved by faith, but hardly in a vacuum. That faith is a gift from God, through no agency on our part -- although we sometimes turn a deaf ear and choose to ignore God's knocking on the door.

To be Christian is to evangelize. Those who think it not their part to evangelize perhaps haven't truly understood what our Lord told us in Matthew 28. We must preach the Gospel as best we are able. Using words if necessary.

Though my faith waxes and wanes, it never seems to go away. Sometimes I wish it would, to give me some peace of mind. But then, Jesus never said that walking with Him was going to be easy...

Final note: I also blog as Jack Rich on cultural, political and other things over at Wrong Side of the Tracks

Thanks for stopping by.