OPINION & EDITOR’S COMMENT: Human values transcend American values

On torture and American values

Lawmakers, who for too long have been bullied and intimidated by the White House, should rewrite the Detainee Treatment Act and the Military Commissions Act to conform with actual American laws and values.

For the rest of the nation, there is an immediate question: Is this really who we are?

Is this the country whose president declared, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,” and then managed the collapse of Communism with minimum bloodshed and maximum dignity in the twilight of the 20th century? Or is this a nation that tortures human beings and then concocts legal sophistries to confuse the world and avoid accountability before American voters? [complete article]

Editor’s Comment — In its effort to affect a populist stance, the New York Times asks whether it is truly American to engage in torture. This is part of the never-ending narcissistic contest over who gets to write the dominant narrative in the American mythology. Outside that contest, the question is easy to answer. If Americans are doing it and they are following the directions of the US government, then yes, torture is as American as a B-2 bomber.

America will not reclaim the moral high ground it has reserved for itself by declaring, “We won’t torture you because we’re American.” It should be, “We won’t torture you because you’re a human being.” Of course, that’s a difficult declaration to make when so many Americans have come to regard “the enemy” as less than human.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email