|BENEATH THE SPIN • ERIC L. WATTREE|
A Simple Question: Would God Condone Torture?
Maybe I'm missing something, but I find it uniquely ironic that some the same people who clamor for prayer in school, claim that same-sex marriage is an abomination under God, who insist that America is a Christian nation, and fight for the Biblical version of creationism over science, are also the very same people who demand the right to be armed to the teeth with some of the most destructive private weapons on Earth, the right to slaughter and bring the most excruciating kinds of death upon God's other creatures for nothing more than their own entertainment, and now, condone the torture of other human beings as a legitimate tool of government. Is it just me, or does anyone else see this as the very height of hypocrisy?
It seems to me that the mere fact that we're even debating the merits of torture is a clear indication that we've gone much too far towards allowing America to become a decadent nation. It has become clear that due to our all consuming preoccupation with personal titillation and hedonistic materialism to the exclusion of intellectual, moral, and ethical development, we're rapidly transforming this nation from that shining light on the hill, to a decadent hellhole in the valley of iniquity. Hypocrisy, self-delusion, deceit is no longer the exception, it has become the rule.
And this is no accident. I've been watching this nation gradually sink into the abyss for the past thirty years. The late Sen. Claiborne Pell of Rhode Island, and sponsor of the Pell Grant said, "The strength of the United States is not the gold at Fort Knox or the weapons of mass destruction that we have, but the sum total of the education and the character of our people." No truer words were ever spoken, and they directly address the source of many, if not all of the problems that we face today. We've allowed ourselves to be manipulated, robbed, and cheated, as a direct result of becoming morally and intellectually bankrupt.
We've become so preoccupied with big houses, big cars, and the pursuit of pleasure that we've completely lost perspective regarding what is real, and what is important in life. A prime example of that is a guy who was in the news earlier this week - I forgot his name, and it's not even worth researching, but in any case - after catching a football and running a few yards, he thought he was so important that he could thumb his nose at the President of the United States.
This guy is so caught up in the superficial, and has become so completely overwhelmed with his own delusion of importance that the meaning of graciousness and simple courtesy has been completely lost on him. He was quoted as saying the only reason the president invited us to the White House was because we won the super bowl. Well, of course that's the reason! He failed to realize that an invitation from the president represents the people of the United States congratulating him and his teammates for a job well done. But obviously, he misunderstands the relative importance between the president of the United States, and a guy who caught a football.
This guy is apparently under the impression that he's become so important that by rejecting the invitation to the White House he was depriving the president of the honor of meeting him. He fails to realize that playing football represents the toy department of life - just like too many more of us. Thus, I must admit it was partially the president's fault for inviting him in the first place. The president should have invited all of the young people across this country who graduated as the top scholars in their respective classes. By doing so, it not only would have placed what's important to the nation in perspective, but they would have also had the intellect to recognize the honor that had been bestowed upon them.
Education is the key to a viable society, and the lack thereof is the key to our destruction. We often discuss, for example, how badly we need campaign reform, and how unrestricted lobbying prevents the government from functioning as it should. While that is undoubtedly true in our current circumstance, if we had a better educated electorate it wouldn't matter how much money poured into a politician's campaign coffers, he still couldn't be elected without being responsive to the needs of the people. After all, the only thing campaign funds are good for is brainwashing the ignorant.
An educated electorate wouldn't be as prone to respond to the ten second sound bite, or the logical inconsistencies that demagogues present as patriotism. And they'd understand enough about America's traditions to recognize that torture is the perfect anthesis of not only Christianity, but the very foundation that this nation was built upon. They'd also recognize that promoting the interests of the people wasn't some sort of evil, socialist plot, and they'd see the inconsistency of attacking Iraq, while the people who attacked the United States were in Afghanistan. They'd also ask pertinent questions like"Why aren't the children of the rich, and political class, dying in this war like our love ones?"
An educated electorate would have demanded to know what Cheney discussed with the business leaders he gathered together when the Bush administration first entered office - and they wouldn't have accepted "it's none of your business" as an answer. And a red flag would have immediately gone up when the corporation that Cheney headed received a lucrative no-bid contract as a result of invading an oil-rich nation.
A thoughtful electorate would have asked early on why would an administration who claim to love and honor our troops send them into harms way without the wherewithal to protect their lives. And why would a patriotic administration throw billions of dollars at their cronies without any accountability, yet make the troops that they so honor have to pay for equipment lost on the field of battle, and are even forced to pay for their own meals while lying in the hospital after being wounded? After all, even prisoners of war don't have to pay for their own meals.
Finally a thinking electorate would ask themselveswhy did the Bush/Cheney administration forced our troops to endure multiple deployments, and even held them hostage after their enlistment was up, when virtually every member of the administration moved hell and Earth to avoid military service when it was their time to serve the nation? Then, and even more curious, why did they do everything that they could to block an enhanced GI Bill to assist these same troops that they so honored, upon their return to civilian life.
And now Cheney comes before us once again - at this point, filthy rich - to convince a grossly undereducated, naive, and self-absorbed public that he did it all for America. And you know what, he went up 10 points in the polls.
God help America.
Eric L. Wattree
A moderate is one who embraces truth over ideology, and reason over conflict.