Saturday, June 18, 2005

I AM SICK about what is happening to my country. I am disgusted by the apologists for torture on the right, like Michelle Malkin, who wants Sen. Dick Durbin to apologize for his June 14 speech on the Senate floor; retract his comparison of the torture of detainees at Guantanamo and elsewhere to the policies of Pol Pot, Hitler, and Stalin; and ask U.S. troops and the American people to forgive him. And like Paul Mirengoff at Powerline, who accuses Durbin of "slandering" his country and hurting his country's "image" by "casting the U.S. in ... a false light." When the fact is that Durbin told the truth about the grave harm Pres. Bush has done to his country's image by casting aside the Geneva Conventions and the U.S. Constitution and by approving the torture of detainees on his watch.

I find it nauseating that the Bush administration and the Republican leadership has plucked one paragraph out of a much longer speech; castigated Durbin for comparing the cruel and vicious treatment of Gitmo detainees (and others) to the 20th century's worst regimes; and completely ignored everything else Durbin said about the Bush administration's disregard for human rights and both domestic and international law. All the people in Congress, in the Bush administration, in the Republican leadership, on the right of the blogosphere, who use Hitler and Stalin and Pol Pot as the yardstick for measuring American ethical values should be ashamed of themselves. They are a disgrace to the men who wrote our Constitution and to every dream of a fair, free, humane, just society that those men embodied.

I never thought when I was growing up that a day would come when American leaders and commentators in the press would define love of country to mean turning a blind eye to abuses of power. I never thought that any American who claims to be proud of what the U.S. stands for would urge fellow Americans to "Support Your Protectors" by "Adopt[ing] a Sniper": clearly implying that anything, anything, that the U.S. military does is to be supported without question because they are "protecting" us. If a taxi driver delivering supplies to a military base is seized, taken into custody, hung from the ceiling of a cell and beaten savagely for days until he is dead -- we will pretend that didn't happen because that man's murderers were "protecting" Americans. If U.S. interrogators submerge a prisoner tied to a board under water to make him feel like he's drowning, that's all in the day's work for Americans' "protectors," right?

At the very least, though, supporters of these examples of torture should not delude themselves that our "protectors" thought them up all by themselves. American know-how is legendary, but we're not that inventive. Every act of torture that has been committed by a U.S. soldier has been done by other soldiers, in other regimes, at other times, and in other places. Like Nazi Germany, like Stalinist Russia, like Pinochet's Chile, like Pol Pot's Cambodia.

If you would like to form an opinion about Sen. Dick Durbin's speech by actually reading his speech, in its entirety, here it is. After you read it, if you want to say, "It's outrageous to compare Guantanamo to Nazi Germany," I will reply, "Okay, and what did you think about the rest of what Durbin had to say?"

You can find out what an actual survivor of the Soviet gulag thinks about confronting the truth, even when it hurts, at Whiskey Bar. And after you've read that, read the rest of the post; there's a lot of important stuff there.

Orcinus takes a look at some of the commentary on the right about Durbin's speech. John Carlson thinks that Dick Durbin is a piece of excrement that should be scraped off the sidewalk and eliminated. Do you want to be associated with a political philosophy that leads to this way of viewing difference of opinion, not to mention this way of viewing a human being? Is that the sort of person you are?

If you would like to tell Sen. Durbin, or his staff, that you support his courage in standing up for American values, Jeralyn at TalkLeft has contact information.

Bill Frist, having lied about his "diagnosis" of Terri Schiavo in March, lied again about what Sen. Durbin said in his speech. Don't let him get away with it.

Finally, if you want to let Congress, the White House, and the media know that torture is un-American and pretending it's not happening is unpatriotic, read Hilzoy's piece at Obsidian Wings.

Don't be a "good German." Don't shut your windows and turn the music up so you don't hear the cattle car rumbling by.

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