Friday, June 02, 2006
We Know Not What We Do....
I'm heart-sick and disgusted. In keeping with June's focus as anti-torture month, I've just listened to former Army Chaplain James Yee's account of his time at Guantanamo. The quick recap is that he was the U.S. Army Muslim chaplain to the detainees at Guantanamo. He was accused of being a spy, threatened with the death penalty, put into solitary confinement, and tortured. Until the charges were dropped. Whoops. You can read a transcript of an interview he gave on this subject at Democracy Now.
And, not that it really matters, James Yee is a U.S. citizen from a career military family. Torture isn't just happening to "those other guys". Yee has written a book recounting his experiences: For God and Country: Faith and Patriotism Under Fire. It's well worth a look. For one thing, he understands (as I hope I never have to) that it really is patriotism under fire. This...thing... that Bush calls patriotism or defending the country or keeping us strong, that's not patriotism. Patriotism calls us to something more noble, more courageous in defending our principles, and substantially less craven than torturing people.
Moreover, our version of patriotism reminds us that we are the government. And since no one in the official government has apologized to Mr. Yee for his uncalled-for detention and torture, I will. We all should.
Mr. Yee, I'm very sorry that this happened to you. I'm very sorry that you were tortured by people claiming to act for me. If it's any consolation at all, your experience has moved me to take action to ensure that someone remembers what real patriotism is.
You can blog against torture too. It's not enough, but it's an important start. Join us here: Blog Against Torture.