First, torture by any other name is still torture. Playing word games to avoid that label, or attempting to redefine torture to suit your purposes, tells the world that you are premeditating the torture committed by or for those working to protect our country.
Here are my top 5 reasons why I believe torture is intrinsically un-American:
1) Torture may be seen as a means to an end, but our means are an end.
We are what we do to reach our goals. Tyranny in the name of freedom is still tyranny.
2) What we do when we have enemies under our control tells our enemies who we really are much more effectively than any presidential speech.
Action trumps propaganda every time. If we want to convince our enemies that we shouldn't be seen as evil, we need to show them we are better than they imagine us to be.
3) Torture is an ineffective interrogation technique.
"The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile."- Napoleon Bonaparte.
Want something a little more modern? Try this Washington Post article.
4) Torture turns us into the type of people we hate.
Barbarians aren't born, they are made. And those in power who order or encourage barbarous treatment as easily as they order a burger and fries are the greatest barbarians of all. Just as people who order a murder are guilty of that murder, those who order torture are guilty of torture.
5) When you inflict torture, you can't believably protest when torture is inflicted on you or yours.
This is twice as true if you publically disdain moral relativism. If right is right and wrong is wrong -- and you say that it is right for us to torture (even if you avoid using that word) -- then it is right for all to torture.
From the Christian Science Monitor:
The Founding Fathers didn't treat prisoners decently solely because they were decent people. Although their writings and ideals reveal a constant and passionate interest in essential human rights, it's important to remember that they were also pragmatists. They understood that the Revolutionary cause had to take and hold the moral high ground in order to rally popular support and exhaust the British giant. And they knew that their necks were very literally on the line were they to be captured by the British. Mistreatment of British soldiers would come back on their heads a thousandfold.It is only arrogance, and insulation from the human costs of war, that makes people forget what the founders of the USA knew so well. There were other areas where our founders didn't do so well in practice, such as slavery, but even there they didn't pretend the problem didn't exist.
If you want to encourage the torture and cold blooded murder of American soldiers and civilians, support those Americans who say we have a right to torture our enemies or those suspected of being our enemy.
Let's retake that moral high ground and keep the progress we've made since the Revolutionary War.
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