"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.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Force Drift

The Christian does not look first at the shining image of his own salvation, the national myth that feeds his secret self-sufficiency, dancing in the mirror of the delightful burden of liberating others from their unlikeness to himself. Yet this is what we hear from thoughtless pulpits that sink our hearts in a shallow sea of faithless consolation. When will we turn the mirror on ourselves and feel the illusions which our violence needs, or, in the words of Lila Rajiva, "When the villainy is ours but the fault lies at higher levels of the state, the language ceases to form a personal narrative and disaggregates into the shapeless jargon bureaucracy, shifting attention away from the actors to the process, diffusing their responsibility like pixels on a screen." Lila Rajiva, "The Language of Empire", New York, Monthly Review Press, 2005, p. 84.

"Mora—along with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service’s Chief Psychologist Dr. Michael Gelles, who was stationed at Guantanamo—warned in this memo that 'once the initial barrier against the use of force had been breached, a phenomenon know as ‘force drift' would almost certainly begin… [and] if left unchecked, force levels, to include torture, could be reached.' Mora was ultimately unsuccessful in his efforts to persuade Haynes and Rumsfeld to reverse the policy of abusive interrogation—and we now know that he was right to be concerned about 'force drift.'" - New Photos: Why Now? TomPaine.com, Feb. 23, 2006.

The initial barrier has been breached. It was the boundary that separated fantasy torture from real degradation, and we have crossed it. Either by the bureaucratic jargon that redefines the most serious psychic wounds a human being can suffer as collateral damage, or the silence that refuses to trouble itself about human beings in pain but outside its immediate reach, we have crossed into the land of perpetual twilight. God forgive us, but I fear that the wounds we now ignore may soon become our own.

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