Friday, August 08, 2008

I write letters to the editor

Some dude wrote a letter to the Sun-Duhzette. It was a bad letter, as they so often are, but this passage in particular went well beyond the call of duty:

Most U.S. citizens are ambivalent about torture because they know it is used only in extreme instances. These are the same people who remember the 3,000 horrifying deaths of 9/11. Our government does not use torture indiscriminately and our commander-in-chief has the responsibility to decide what instances merit it.

Torture+thinly-veiled authoritarian tendencies=two great tastes that taste great together! So I had to respond, and what's notable about my response is that they published it completely unedited. This is rare: they almost always cut stuff out of your letters, sometimes rendering them borderline incoherent. That they did not do so in this case suggests to me that whatever intern they have going over their submissions read mine and thought "right on," which is encouraging to me.

J. Richard Wertz writes that "most US citizens are ambivalent about torture," and goes on to suggest that Americans are in favor of some amount of torture. Whether this is true depends on how one defines "American." If it simply means "US citizen" and nothing more, then it's true--some Americans DO support torture. If, however, one takes it to mean "people who believe in America's ideals and refuse to compromise these ideals under any circumstances"--let's call these people "Real Americans"--then no, Americans don't support torture. None of them.

In fact, those Americans-in-name-only who do are detestable, unprincipled cowards whose tough talk about the need to protect the country at any cost is no more than a desperate effort to hide the fact that they would willingly--nay, eagerly--sell out any ideal, no matter how deeply held, if there were even a tiny chance that it would make them .001 percent safer. These are the people whom Benjamin Franklin had in mind when he accurately noted that "those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." If they had any shame, they would be deeply ashamed of themselves.

Real Americans are man or woman enough to firmly state that torture is an evil act that corrodes both our individual and our national souls, and that it is not acceptable under any circumstances--and they would hold fast to this principle even if there were any evidence that it were even slightly effective, because they wish to live in a free country and are willing to accept whatever risks that might entail. They recognize that if we are using "but we're not as bad as Saddam!" as our defense--as so many False Americans do--then the war for America's soul is already lost.

Wertz goes on to refer to the President as "our Commander-in-Chief." This is inaccurate. The President is Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. Since the US is not a military dictatorship, civilians do not have a Commander-in-Chief--and if Real Americans have anything to say about it, it will forever stay that way.

Some have accused me of being a little uncivil here, but I just can't respect anyone who holds these kinds of views. And anyway, I resisted the urge to characterize him and people like him as sniveling cowards--that's MAD civility right there!


Blogger Adam Thornton pontificated to the effect that...

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!

I can't BELIEVE we're even DISCUSSING this issue in 2008.

8:57 AM  

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