Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others.

As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor; let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of his own, and his children's liberty.

Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap; let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in Primers, spelling books, and in Almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and Let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.

While ever a state of feeling, such as this, shall universally, or even, very generally prevail throughout the nation, vain will be every effort, and fruitless every attempt, to subvert our national freedom.

- Abraham Lincoln, January 27, 1838
  Address Before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois

Monday, May 21, 2007

The question of torture

Torture hurts everyone.

Torture obviously hurts the victim, but it also damages the psyche of the torturer. It hurts the morale of the army forced to listen to the screams of the suffering - not to mention the personal safety of any American soldier that might be captured by insurgents.

Torture hurts our credibility and democratic principles, and deeply undercuts our leadership throughout the world. We’ve lost the respect of even our closest allies since we lowered ourselves to this level of thug behavior. We are behaving no better than a banana republic.

That we overthrew Saddam - partly on the argument that he tortured Iraqis and used chemical weapons against his own people - and we later used his very prison of Abu Ghraib to torture Iraqi citizens (most of them completely innocent of any wrongdoing,) is unconscionable. It is also incredibly, unbelievably STUPID.

Lastly, advocating torture hurts all Americans - it destroys our credibility as a democratic and 'just' nation, and has done immeasurable damage to our reputation around the world.

Our grandparents’ generation stormed the beaches in Normandy to overthrow fascism, and many saw first hand the results of Nazi torture when they liberated the concentration camps. They were liberators and heroes, and many people came to see America as a force for good in the world. We have betrayed our parents and grandparents with this abominable behavior. It is completely unworthy of their example and their sacrifices.

During the second GOP debate, John McCain said simply “it’s not about the terrorists, it’s about us. It’s about what kind of country we are.” That anyone on that stage had the temerity to promote torture in front of a former Vietnam POW... defies reason. But then, as Al Gore will tell you, 'reason' is hard to come by these days.

And as for these strange, pro-torture, ‘Christian’ presidential candidates like Romney... I challenge you to find any positive mention of torture - anywhere - in the New Testament. Christ taught his followers to ‘turn the other cheek.’ Christ said ‘blessed are the peace makers.’

The only mention of torture in the entire New Testament is the torture inflicted on Jesus himself: and if you want to line up on THAT side, please refrain from using the word ‘Christian’ when describing yourselves.

UPDATE: 5/23/2007 - terrific article about the disastrous fallout from the use of torture techniques in Iraq, "Torture Betrays Us," by by Charles C. Krulak & Joseph P. Hoar
(Krulak was commandant of the Marine Corps from 1995 to 1999. Hoar was commander in chief of U.S. Central Command from 1991 to 1994.)

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