Moral Contradictions

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Torturing ourselves over torture

As a Christian I have a hard time reconciling myself against those in camps such as Gitmo. Yes they want to kill us, yes they want to kill innocents... yet, Jesus commanded us to turn the other cheek - to love our enemy.

Being trained in history and reading all sorts of war novels growing up, I was always impressed with the level of respect Americans treated their enemies. Sure there have been lapses, but all in all, our soldiers and citizens took pride in treating our enemies well. Even though we knew that the enemy would not reciprocate, we did not use that fact as a basis for mistreatment or even torture.

That's the America I grew up with - the one I love and respect. All men are created equal. To those who wished us harm, we were fair and just. My faith commands us to love and pray for our enemy. Combine the two, and you can see why torture doesn't sit well with me.

Consider this example: As kids, we sometimes would get in trouble because we followed the crowd. A peer would do something wrong, we would participate, and then get in trouble. The excuse that our peer was doing it didn't fly. Whether or not their parent punished them was of no concern. That action was wrong and we have a moral code independent of being compromised by others.

I'm saddened by Christians who justify the use of torture with the excuse of "they want to kill us" or "look at what they do to their prisoners". How we treat prisoners should be independent of how others treat us. We have a higher moral code. We're better than that. Our history in war proves that. We're Americans.

So when John McCain speaks up about torture, many listen. He knows a few things about that. When he speaks up against our use of torture, I listen even more. Via ChargingRINO, here's Bob Schieffer of "Face the Nation" take on McCain:

"Finally today, I don't always agree with him, but when John McCain talks about prisoners of war and torture I do pay attention. As someone who was tortured for five years in a North Vietnamese prison, he just knows a little more about torture than the rest of us. So when John McCain told me the other day that he would not want to be the next American taken prisoner in Iraq, I listened. McCain, along with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, is sponsoring legislation to outlaw, quote 'cruel, inhumane and degrading' treatment of all prisoners held by the United States. Incredibly, the administration is trying to kill this legislation, claiming it would hamper the fight against terrorism or some such.

Here is my question: Does this mean we endorse torture? Of course not. But what will the other side make of these words? John McCain has no more sympathy for the terrorists than I do. He is worried about our soldiers. He knows that if the enemy believes we are torturing their people, they will be more likely to torture our people.

John McCain has never been a favorite of this adminstration but they should pay attention to him on this one. He was learning about torture while some of them were still in graduate school. The gallant young men and women we are asking to fight this war are already paying a terrible price. Let's not make it more dangerous for them. Listen to John McCain."

Just as the hostages in Iran made us mad in 1979, why do we guffaw when we say the mistreatment and torture of prisoners at Gitmo increases terrorism? It's a natural human response.

There is a time of war, but is there a time for torture? Since Jesus was killed by torture, I'm thinking no.


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