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.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

A Torturer is an Enemy of Humanity




Anyone who knowingly tortures another human being is an enemy of humanity and has forsaken his or her own humanity, which, as Christians, we must continue to respect even in those who have abandoned self-respect.

Though it is the role of the media to uncover torture and brutality so that we may purge it from our midst, the media in Iraq has abandoned its responsibility, as was acknowledged at the War Tribunal on Iraq in 2005, "The judges found that the mainstream media reportage on Iraq was guilty under article six of the Nuremberg Tribunal, set up to try Nazi crimes, which states: 'Leaders, organizers, instigators and accomplices participating in the formulation or execution of a common plan or conspiracy to commit any of the foregoing crimes (crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity) are responsible for all acts performed by any persons in execution of such a plan.'"

A well-planned campaign is breaking down resistance against torture and genocide among the American public with ice-cold consistency. In a pattern that has become as predictable as rising temperatures, Democrats at first pretended to be outraged by Mukasey's inability to know what torture was. This incapacity was highlighted night after night in order to induce a similar incapacity among the watchers. Along with this was a description of what the technique actually consisted of. The purpose of this juxtaposition was to force a suspension of judgment on the part of viewers. Following this setup, two key Democratic senators, Feinstein and Schumer, caved in and accepted the nomination. In this way, acceptable viewer behavior was effectively modeled by the Democrats. The subtext of this demonstration is "We understand that you are outraged by torture, but the responsible approach is to suspend judgment, then accept the inevitable need to torture."

This media campaign was reinforced with an explicit defense of torture by the administration. The basis of this defense was that the Attorney General was the front line in the "war on terrorism", which means that all methods must be available to him, even the most debased and inhuman. It became the role of Presidential candidates to explicitly defend waterboarding, as did Fred Thompson, thus completing the logical superstructure of the defense of torture. The range of options portrayed by the media ran from uncertainty and incapacity to a robust choice for torture, thus communicating the message that those who know how to defend us must torture.

In order to resist the conditioning, we must recognize that these media spectacles are always guided by a specific psychological purpose and that any apparent debate in Congress is a calculated distraction designed to make the conditioning more effective. It also reinforces the pattern that may eventually be used in an attack on Iran. Once again, on the day of the attack the Democrats will pretend outrage, many claiming no knowledge of the administration's plans. The media will speak of a "constitutional crisis" and highlight a array of rebellious words and actions in Congress. Then "the facts on the ground" will trump all the noise and Democrats will "accept the inevitable", while claiming to bring a modicum of humanity to the process of murdering and maiming the tens of thousands of Iranians, whose sufferings, while regrettable, are the sad price of our "safety."

"The US State Department denounces the practice [water boarding] as torture when it is used by other countries. When American personnel carry it out, however, it is defended as an 'enhanced interrogation technique'—the same euphemism employed by the Nazis—that is indispensable in the war on terror." - wsws.org

In fact, the same process of desensitization regarding torture was systematically carried out in 1930's Germany by similar techniques of propaganda. The key to these techniques is to arouse outrage so that it can be neutralized using various frameworks of national safety. The fear of "sleeper cells" (first used by Stalin in the 1930's) is stoked through the media. This is the purpose of the invariably phony discovery and arrest of supposed American or British terrorists by the Justice Department or the British equivalent. Even though few successful terrorism prosecutions ever result from these raids, they keep alive the notion of sleeper cells ready to be activated in an instant. The arousal of this type of fear is a primary control mechanism and torture acts as a backup threat. In every known case in the last century in which torture was used against foreign enemies and internal subversives, it was eventually used against ordinary citizens once the taboo had been worn through.

"Engaged in dirty wars of aggression and pursuing a predatory policy of colonial conquest in the Middle East and Central Asia, the American ruling elite has embraced torture as an instrument of policy. This has found its hideous expression in Abu Ghraib and in the secret prisons of the CIA around the globe." -wsws.org Ultimately, the ruling elite will jettison the last vestiges of democracy and apply the same techniques at home that they have perfected abroad.

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