The Left

America Abandons Ideals

The Quiet Man
The Quiet Man
In an attempt to escape his past, Sean Thornton (John Wayne) returns to America to reclaim his homestead. Once he is home, his eye is caught by Mary (Maureen O'Hara). Release date: September 14, 1952 | Photo: Archives | The Quiet Man, John Wayne, Maureen O'hara, Actor, Movie, Production, Candle, Icon,

The Torture Report Clarified Two Opposing Camps

In one sense, the release of the Senate Committee CIA "Torture Report" is a good thing for reasons other than questions regarding its validity, because it brought out more clearly into daylight, forced into the open, two basically opposing camps in the war on terror.

Pro-torture hawks are infuriated by the report, those who believe the ends justify the means, though they won't admit it. They say the report is false, a liberal conspiracy, even though its authorship included both parties. They maintain torture (they euphemistically call it enhanced technique) is a valuable tool to combat terror.

Opposing are those who say the report shows the CIA ran wild and abandoned the rule of law, which is apparently no longer a rule as we used to understand it, innocent until proven guilty, a court of law with an attorney defending a suspected culprit. Even Herman Goering had an attorney. Instead of what we have now, torturing prisoners in violation of the Geneva Convention and throwing them in dungeons and tossing away the key---- without trial.

The split has always been there between the two opposing philosophies.

Welcome to the preposterously named "Patriot Act," a document authorizing abandonment of due process and ironically favored by Dianne Feinstein, villain to conservatives and primary author of the CIA Torture Report. Conservatives should at least give her credit for that.

Force two quarts of water down your throat in two seconds and then break your foot with a hammer and stand on it for 36 hours to see if you would describe that as "enhanced."

"Ends justify means." Translated, that means that anything goes, as long as it is perceived by a few enactors, or if you're critical of the program, "perpetrators," who see the program as helpful. Thus, what constitutes "helpful" is a judgment made entirely in secret by government officials and their minions and not the American people.

Back in the days just after 9-11, it was early-on said by some that if America abandoned what is unique about America, fairness, ideals, the Bill of Rights, if we became paranoid, if we hunkered down and acted afraid, if we stripped away rights------then the terrorists win. The terrorists win. That means we changed who we are or thought we were because we're afraid.

That saying has now been forgotten, but was never agreed to in the first place by conservatives who favor secret government. Countries need intelligence and they need secrets, but the U.S. supposedly had a system of accountability and oversight, checks and balances, to maintain its Democracy, or Republic, whatever you want to call it.

Long forgotten from decades ago, was the admonition from super patriot right wing actor John Wayne, who said, "I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

This was a good attitude and it's too bad it's been shelved by the right.

Congress gave Wayne a medal for being a movie star who stayed in Hollywood and took plumb heroic roles fighting World War II from the well-paying screen because other actors (like Robert Montgomery) were gone out of town fighting the war. Wayne became a Super Patriot right winger partly over his shame at having missed WW II. His wife said that, not me.

But why is Wayne's "I will defend to the death your right" so important today?

Because of the typical attitude of a conservative columnist on this very website----who described members of the Democrat Party as Bolsheviks waving red flags and singing the Internationale (Communist theme song). I think he thinks he's still fighting the Cold War.

This is not a defense of Democrats, who have continued some of the same foreign policies, and who have proven themselves weak-kneed and ineffectual. I have continually said there is often not much difference between the two parties, and I did not vote for Obama and I am not a Democrat. However, I believe the Torture Report is, given some mistakes, essentially accurate. And it takes a fair amount of courage to criticize what has become unfortunately the status quo (secret government).

Here are 10 ways America is becoming anti-American:
  1. First of all, the head of the CIA, John Brenan, openly said "abhorrent tactics" were used on prisoners. Those were his words. There aren't too many ways you can spin-doctor the word abhorrent. That means bad. He also said it remains unknown whether the tactics yielded crucial intelligence. This directly refutes the argument of pro-torture hawks, that the interrogation techniques were not wrong and that they resulted in valuable intelligence that saved lives. It's bizarre, incredible, mystifying, Orwellian, how a person can honestly say a program involved abhorrent actions, and at the same time maintain out of the other side of his mouth its righteousness. Does this remind anyone old enough to remember of Richard Nixon?
  2. The basic premise that as an American citizen not in the know, that I am made safer by people doing things for my own good without my knowledge of how they are going about it (not knowing even the tiniest outline philosophical details).
  3. Try to put yourself in my shoes. I'm just an average American who values fairness. If I came to you and said, "I'm protecting you, just believe, don't ask questions. I'm a patriot. Just go about your business and let me save you and don't worry. Wait a minute! This is a country that ad nausea every time we hold an election extols the value of an informed, educated, involved electorate.
  4. Failure to understand the legitimate concerns of those opposing a viewpoint over an issue as important as war and instead slandering it as disloyalty and anti-American subversion is one of the great failings of conservatives. George Bush arrogantly and dismissively insultingly referred to opponents of the Iraq War as a "focal group."
  5. Here we go again, two diametrically opposed oxymoron positions----secret government saving us------and an informed, involved electorate. Have both at the same time?
  6. Why should I trust this assurance? You're saving me and I should mind my own business? I've already lived through Watergate, Iran Contra and the false weapons of mass destruction in Iraq scam.
  7. Conservatism is faith-based. Along with claiming ownership of God through right wing Evangelical belief, and politicizing religion, they are asking Americans to go on faith that the "Torture-Enhanced" program is effective.
  8. The idea that Israel is always right and the rest of the Middle East is always wrong. The inability to work with more moderate elements in the Middle East. The inability to at least try to act as a peace broker such as Clinton once did and the Camp David accords. This is ground-zero for all the troubles mentioned above.
  9. The breakdown in participatory Democracy based on compromise, and instead rule by obstructionism and threatened government shut-downs, as though the system was a hostage held for ransom.
  10. Failure to understand it's possible to be wrong about something and use of the word "bullsh't" to describe an opponent's viewpoint.

Comment on Disqus

Comment on Facebook

Updated Aug 12, 2017 11:59 AM EDT | More details


©2017 AND Magazine, LLC
5 Columbus Circle, 8th Floor
New York, New York 10019 USA

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without express written permission from AND Magazine corporate offices. All rights reserved.