An blog by a member of the Catholic peace movement, Pax Christi, to explore the nexus between contemplation and resistance. "The Christian must discover in contemplation, and in the giving of his life, those symbolic actions which will ignite the people's faith to resist injustice with their whole lives, lives coming together as a united force of truth and thus releasing the liberating power of the God within them." - James Douglass, Contemplation and Resistance.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Brutalizing the Soul

In the words of Juan Cole: "The first reason to get the ground troops out now is that they are being fatally brutalized by their own treatment of Iraqi prisoners. Abu Ghraib was horrific, and we who are not in Congress or the Department of Defense have still only seen a fraction of the photographs of it that exist. Sy Hersh learned of rapes, some of them documented. Human Rights Watch has documented further prisoner abuse by US troops in Iraq. Sometimes the troops just go in and break arms or legs out of frustration. It has long been obvious that the Abu Ghraib scandal was only the tip of the iceberg, and that the abusive practices were allowed and encouraged by Rumsfeld and high officers, and weren't some aberration among a few corporals. (Even Senator Frist may be involved in a cover-up of the torture.) There is also no reason to think that the abuses have ceased. The denials of the US military, based on its own internal investigations (which apparently involve looking at official reports filed and talking to officers in charge) are pretty pitiful. The brutalization of the US military and of its prisoners is a brutalization of the entire American public. It is an undermining of the foundational values of the Republic. We cannot remain Americans and continue to behave this way routinely. The some 15,000 Iraqis in American custody are all by now undying enemies of the United States. Some proportion of them started out that way but perhaps could have been won over. Some of the detainees were probably just in the wrong place at the wrong time. After a time in US prison camps, they will hate us forever. And they know where thousands of tons of hidden munitions are." - Informed Comment, Sept. 25, 2005.

What is the effect of torture on our Christian spirit? To what extent does our silence in the face of ongoing brutalization of Iraqis in the name of our "safety" cause us to become brutalized? To what extent are we brutalizing our Lord when we break the legs of Iraqis with baseball bats? I would really like to start a conversation on these questions because I don't see any conversation about torture and Christianity happening on other blogs. If you know about such a conversation or blog, please let me know.

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