Monday, March 17, 2008

"...Once I built an ivory tower so I could worship from above..."

Not to belabor the point I was (ineffectively) trying to make in class today... but the whole "Bush Vetoes Bill Banning Torture" thing really, really frosts my cookies (mmm cookies...) I see the point several people made that worrying about US citizens' opinions about the torture norm might be less important than worrying about whether or not our government is following the norm. Clearly, the two go hand in hand. Here you have the (arguably) biggest world power condoning the use of torture to further its agenda in the GWOT and it's just supposed to be acceptable to the American public because Bush vetoed a bill on torture? Nevermind the fact that the veto is antithetical to an international norm?

This is the kind of rhetoric being put out there into public discourse:

"This is no time for Congress to abandon practices that have a proven track record of keeping America safe," the president said. (Source)

Like Dr. C said -- whether or not there is proof that it works, torture is still wrong according to the international norm. We shouldn't be asking how effective torture is or if it is in fact keeping America safe. We should be asking ourselves and our leaders why we are having a debate to begin with about whether or not it is ok. Of course it's not ok. Like Alex Bellamy pointed out in the article we read for class, there is really no evidence that the torture of the Algerian "ticking time bomb terrorist" yielded any information that was more effective than the routine search of the man's property by police--further proof that not only is it not ok, but odds are, torture doesn't achieve anything other than tearing away at the morality of a state and its representatives.

It will be interesting to see if and how a new administration will change the nature of the discussion about torture. I grew up hearing my mother say "I don't care if Bill Clinton had an affair. I didn't elect him as a moral leader. I elected him to run our country." She has changed her tune a bit. We're not talking about extramarital affairs anymore. We're talking about torture and death and a loss of a most basic understanding of what humanity is at the hands of the current administration.

Maybe this time around, we will be electing a moral leader, not just a political leader.

And now I need to go find myself a cookie.

I iz scared K, I�ll come out for cookie.
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