Remind Me Why Nazis Were Worse

*Torture Report*. Something I never thought I would see. Not because I didn’t think it would be released (which I honestly didn’t) but because the America I grew up in succeeded in indoctrinating me that *we aren’t like those animals*. Yes I know I was naïve; whites have tortured, as our President recently said, *some folks* continuously since the first Europeans landed on Turtle Island nearly 500 years ago.
But even though the culture is dead wrong about this being some new kind of problem, it is becoming harder and harder to keep one’s head buried in the sand about what is being done, by our neighbors and in some cases even our family members, to inflict pain and suffering on others who have been demonized and dehumanized in some way. Palestinians, tortured and murdered by U.S. supplied weapons. Thousands *disappeared* into black sites around the globe. Thousands gunned down on the streets of America by cops and vigilantes. This report details how our government approved, sanctioned and carried out actions like waterboarding, stress positions, beatings, sleep deprivation, bodily violations through various and sundry openings, and threats of harm to children and other family members. Innocent people were turned in for rewards and then kept awake by repeated beatings for more than a week…can you imagine what that would be like? To be innocent, yet to feel so lost, so isolated from anyone who cares, so forsaken, and so hopeless that you reach a point where you will kill yourself if you can just think of a way to do it while under 24-hour surveillance? Innocent and hopeless; that sounds really familiar these days, don’t you agree?
This report solves nothing. There will be no prosecutions; indeed the only person to go to jail so far because of this regimen of torture is John Kiriakou, a man of conscience who attempted to stop the torture by publicizing it. The report focused not on the legality or morality of the programs, but on whether or not they worked; as if the ends can somehow justify the means. How many innocents can be tortured if even one life is saved by torture? Is that a conversation we should be having? Honestly, that turns my stomach, to even think that there is justification to be had by seeking security out of a holocaust of pain. There is no humane way to spin torture into something we should be thankful for.
In his first remarks after the release of the report, Obama acknowledged that “no nation is perfect,” but argued that “one of the strengths that makes America exceptional is our willingness to openly confront our past, face our imperfections, make changes and do better.” Backed by this disingenuous and convenient definition of *American Exceptionalism*, Obama suggests to a gullible American public that the release of the report—which his administration fought tirelessly to restrict—is all that is necessary in order for the nation to move forward. Do you think the rest of Earth’s human population agrees?
Do you think we should agree? In other words, there won’t be even a slap on the wrist of anyone involved, not to mention any assurances that it won’t happen again or any restitution to the victims. If *justice* and the *rule of law* mean anything in our society, then this report has to be the beginning—not the end—of accountability for those who designed, approved, and executed these vile, immoral, and criminal programs. Otherwise someday, maybe sooner than you think, these thugs will come for you or someone in your family. And by then it will be too late for you to protest.
What would it take to fix this? Is it enough to prosecute some mid-level government officials? At Nuremburg, when we-the-victors hung regular soldiers for *following orders*, we really raised a stink about human decency trumping the *needs of war*. We also hung the high officials who initiated the torture, back then. How is this admission of crimes any different? What makes Bush better than Hitler? And unless we force full disclosures, apologies, reparations, and begin to instill enough transparency that all human beings can believe this won’t happen again, then we have failed our duty as moral people. This stain on our hearts and reputations will take generations to fade from memory. And to be blunt but fair, without some truth and reconciliation forthcoming, we should all be shot for crimes against humanity.

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