Let’s Talk About Torture

I have been proud to host many civil discussions on my column. We have talked about abortion, pornography, and various Bush controversies without ripping each other’s eyes out. It has been lovely.

But this is not going to be one of those articles.

Yesterday, the breaking news was that an American had actually been held and tortured at an American naval base in Iraq. His torture amounted only to being cold, subjected to bright lights and loud music, and repeatedly interrogated under the conviction that he was involved in something suspicious. He lost over three months of his life this way.

Now, compared to what others have lost in our prisons, this is nothing. Others have lost their dignity, their health, and their lives. What makes this story remarkable is that it is your final wake up call. Continue reading

Hatred As A Demographic

A recent article I seeded about the Israel-Hezbollah conflict drew quite a remarkable chorus of voices, many of them outraged that I would dare to seed an article which was sympathetic to the Hezbollah viewpoint. In preparing to seed the link, it had certainly occurred to me that there would be debate, and yet I found myself rather unprepared for the hatred and prejudice which quickly boiled to the surface.

Obviously, this war is something which people feel strongly about. Why we feel compelled to take sides, however, is another question. Looking at the history of the Israeli-Lebanese conflict, it is easy to see that both sides have repeatedly attacked the other. Both sides have contributed to the situation which is currently unfolding. There are plenty of arguments sympathizing with Israel’s long, uphill struggle to merely exist. There are also arguments supporting Hezbollah’s claims that Lebanon has been terrorized by Israel. The fighting in the Middle East over Israel has gone on for most of a century, and there is no quick, comprehensive study guide which can explain the layers and layers of perfectly reasonable distrust on all sides of the issue.

Why, then, the hatred? Particularly in the West, where we are distanced from this battle and could be expected to take a careful, dispassionate view of it? Why, here in the United States especially, has violence become the only language we feel is viable as a solution to international problems?

Continue reading