Friday, June 3, 2011

Torture awareness month

It arises from those dark recesses of our soul, stirred up by anger and nourished by the desire for vengeance. It grows and swells in direct proportion to our ability to dehumanize the Other, until our actions are out of control and our own humanity corroded.


While the Milgram Experiment in the 1960’s demonstrated that almost anyone is capable of inflicting torture, most of us prefer to leave it to the experts. We carefully avert our eyes lest we see what government agencies have done in our name. We say nothing upon learning that White House counsel disingenuously redefined torture, thus giving the green light to interrogators to carry out heinous acts. Detainees not captured in uniform are somehow exempt from Geneva Convention protections, or so goes the rationalization. After that it is but a tiny step to stripping them of their humanity. Finally, in the euphoria following the liquidation of Osama bin Laden, we even cast aside the ticking time bomb scenario, that fictitious emergency situation found only on prime-time TV dramas. The bad guys drove us to it. What further justification do we need? What a dangerous line we have crossed.

As a person of faith, I could care less whether or not torture works. Because it violates the God-given humanity of both the victim and the perpetrator, torture is always abhorrent, immoral, and wrong. I measure the depth of my integrity not by how others treat me but by how I treat others, and I hold my country to the same standard. During the month of June, Torture Awareness Month, check out the website of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture .

We must abolish US-sponsored torture forever.

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