Sunday, November 13, 2005

"A Betrayal of Our Most Precious Values"

This editorial is getting a lot of blog coverage, and rightfully so. In case you missed out, Leonard Pitts of the Miami Herald cuts through the hyperbole on the question of torture and reminds us of (what should be) the obvious:

Well, I guess that settles that.

"We do not torture," President Bush said on Monday. Never mind all those torture pictures from Abu Ghraib. Never mind all those torture stories from Guantanamo Bay. Never mind the 2002 Justice Department memo that sought to justify torture. Never mind reports of U.S. officials sending detainees to other countries for torture. Never mind Dick Cheney lobbying to exempt the CIA from rules prohibiting torture.

"We do not torture," said the president. And that's that, right? I mean, if you can't believe the Bush administration, who can you believe? No torture. Period, end of sentence.

But . . . What does it say to you that the claim even has to be made?

...Yes, Bush says we don't do that kind of thing but, to paraphrase Groucho Marx, who you going to believe, him or your lying eyes?

We ignore our lying eyes, I think, because we are afraid, because we saw what happened Sept. 11 and we never want to see it again. I'd never suggest we ought not fear terrorism. But we should also fear the nation we are becoming in response. We should fear the fact that we have abrogated moral authority, retreated from moral high ground, become like those we once chastised.

"We do not torture," says the president.

I can remember when that went without saying. (emphasis added)

Get the whole thing. There's been a head-spinning amount of commentary on the subject lately, but this is truly some of the best.

Hat tip: BIPM


RTSO said...

I almost always agree with Pitts, and this one had me nodding my head so hard, I almost gave myself a concussion on the breakfast table.

Our place at the summit of the moral high ground has been left unattended for far too long now. Unfortunately, the Democrats could never figure out how to get us there (as if it were a hard question). But now, the Republicans say we ARE there. That is truly saddening.

Lily said...

I think that we not only lack a seat at the dinner party, but we need to be thrown out by security! We can't even address our own dilemmas.
What can we make of the EU-USA Troika meeting?
You know, we talk alot about whether we are or are not justified in our moral crusades. We talk about the presence or absence of moral authority in our international policies. And yet we are much like the neighbor who tries to raise your kid, who tells them not to smoke for example while they puff away.
Even if we had credibility- I have trouble with the arrogant posturing of any adolescent nation presuming to dictate what is best for the world. We cannot seem to model solutions- on torture, on energy, on technology, on renewable resources, on functional democracy, on free market untouched by subsidies and pork-peddling...
So we point to our failings and we debate our authority's legitimacy. Even if we were the finest examples of humanity- we have no right to impose our way of life upon the unwilling. They see much that is wrong about our way of life. They see us as the bully that won't share, that takes the lion's share of everything. How stupid we are to 'spread' anything!
The idea is one of the more bitter historical ironies.
America has lost five pounds from an obese political frame and wants to tell the world how to count calories.