Losing our souls: torture damages all involved--so why would our government defend it?Imagine you are on your way home from vacation, making an airline connection. As you board your flight, you are detained de·tain
tr.v. de·tained, de·tain·ing, de·tains
1. To keep from proceeding; delay or retard.
2. To keep in custody or temporary confinement: by officials. After a few days of questioning, without charges or access to counsel, you are loaded onto a plane and taken to ... who knows where. Once there, you are beaten and tortured until you say anything your torturers want. Wild imagination? Not for Maher Arar Maher Arar (born 1970 in Syria), but living in Canada with dual Canadian/Syrian citizenship, is a software engineer who was deported to Syria and claims to have been tortured in what some people claim is an example of the United States policy of rendition. ; this is exactly what happened to him. His crime? A passing acquaintance with a terrorism suspect.
John Howard Yoder John Howard Yoder (December 29 1927 – December 30, 1997) was a Christian theologian, ethicist, and Biblical scholar best known for his radical Christian pacifism, his mentoring of future theologians such as Stanley Hauerwas, his loyalty to his Mennonite faith, and his 1972 once said that a pacifist was a person who realized that in striking another, you harm yourself more--this is the moral consequence of violence. This may seem shocking, but is it really different from the comments John McCain For McCain's grandfather and father, see John S. McCain, Sr. and John S. McCain, Jr., respectively
John Sidney McCain III (born August 29, 1936 in Panama Canal Zone) is an American politician, war veteran, and currently the Republican Senior U.S. Senator from Arizona. made recently in his impassioned plea that America recover the moral high ground by explicitly outlawing prisoner abuse Prisoner abuse is the mistreatment of persons while they are under arrest or incarcerated. Abuse falling into this category includes:
1. Having the ring of truth or plausibility but actually fallacious: a specious argument.
2. Deceptively attractive. justifications of torture.
Surely, none will defend torture as inherently good; rather, all arguments are based on appeal to a greater good--that is, torture accomplishes good that outweighs its inherent moral evil. Generally the argument is that we are engaged in a very different kind of war, one in which our enemies constitute a unique threat to civilian populations. Hence we must "take the gloves off" to gain the information needed to protect our people. Torture, though gruesome, is a technique that we need to have in our tool kit. Does this argument hold?
Will the use of torture likely accomplish the goals we have in mind? If the goal is to get detainees to make particular statements, torture is very effective--those being tortured will say anything to stop the pain. However, if the goal is obtaining truth, as McCain and others note, torture is notoriously unreliable. So if one cares little about the truth, but wants prisoners to confess to wrongdoing wrong·do·er
One who does wrong, especially morally or ethically.
wrongdo (guilty or not), torture is the technique to use. If one wants valid and useful information, it is not.
Further, if we think we should protect our "way of life" because of its inherent moral rightness, then surely we as Christians can agree that torture is never a valid tool. Immoral practices so corrupt our way of life that any pretense to the moral high ground would be absurd. Ultimately, torture is a terrorist tool, and by using it we ourselves become terrorists.
WALKING THE MORAL high ground is costly, and one cost is accepting that some tactics are immoral and, thus, unavailable for those who choose the high ground. That we seem to have lost sight of this is exemplified by the fact that 1) though some regimes use torture, Human Rights Watch recently reported that only the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. has openly tried to offer legal justification for its use, and that 2) the church has largely remained silent on this issue.
What might we do? Here, as often, our best service is to educate ourselves and others and then to shine a bright light into the darkness--letters to the editor, encouragement to McCain for his leadership, organizing prayer vigils. We must help all Americans to see the full facts of torture in hopes that, once seen, it will not be tolerated.
In the words of South African Bishop Peter Storey Peter Edwin Storey (born September 7, 1945) is an English former football player.
Storey spent most of his career at Arsenal, joining the club as an apprentice in 1961 and turning professional the following year. : "There is a price to be paid for the right to be called a civilized nation. That price can be paid in only one currency-the currency of human rights.... The rule of law says that cruel and inhuman punishment is beneath the dignity of a civilized state.... We send a message to the jailers, interrogators, and those who make such practices possible and permissible: 'Power is a fleeting thing. One day your souls will be required of you.'"
Chuck Gutenson, on loan from Asbury Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky Wilmore is a city in Jessamine County, Kentucky, United States. The population was 5,905 at the 2000 census. Institutions
Wilmore has two institutions of higher learning: Asbury College and Asbury Theological Seminary. , works on strategic planning Strategic planning is an organization's process of defining its strategy, or direction, and making decisions on allocating its resources to pursue this strategy, including its capital and people. and resource development for Sojourners and Call to Renewal.