Saturday, January 12, 2008

Opposing Torture

Last night, members of the lectionary group (Quaker, United Methodist, and UU) sponsored a showing of "Ghosts of Abu Ghraib" to a group of about 50 folks from the island. It was my second viewing of this stomach-turning, powerfully-convincing HBO movie and no easier to sit through the second time.

After the movie, viewers discussed their responses to the brutality and sadism they had seen depicted and the dehumanization of both detainees AND their brutalizers, most of whom were ordinary soldiers who had been encouraged by their superiors to torture the detainees.

I was overcome by the senselessness of torture. Our military "superiors" had made a terrible post-9/11 scenario and made it a thousand times worse, by degrading their captives and forcing young soldiers to participate in torturing their victims. The soldiers clearly felt ashamed of their behavior and were remarkably candid about what they had done and how they had maintained a sense of equilibrium during their stint at Abu Ghraib.

This heinous behavior by the American military has created even more hatred in the world for Americans, has ruined the lives of the young soldiers who participated, and has made America less safe by increasing the justifiable anger of those who were tortured and who lost friends and family members to torture.

What possible good outcome can torture have? The information gained thereby is suspect and scanty. It is vengeance, rather than necessary military policy, when men are humiliated, injured, and even killed for an elusive hint of information. It is unconscionable.

No more posts this weekend. I'm off to Olympia to preach at OUUC tomorrow morning. Back later.

1 comment:

Comrade Kevin said...

The more I think about it, the less I believe that punitive measures like torture do any good in the long term.

While they might coerce testimony on occasion, tactics such as these will certainly create a major backlash, feed hatred, and swell the numbers of the very people our government claim to be enemy combatants.