Most human beings likely believe their nation is at least somewhat honorable as a testament to the people in the population, but history shows that certainly is not the case. Although Americans think this country is exceptional, it has not been honorable throughout its history, but many people claim the past is not an accurate measure of the nation today. However, if one considers the deceit and mistreatment of Native Americans, the country’s shameful history of slavery, and the revelations the nation is guilty of humanitarian abuses at home and abroad, it is impossible to dispute this is a nation of barbarians; particularly due to the overwhelming support from so-called religious people for torture.
After the Senate Intelligence Report revealing the extent of torture authorized and supported by the Bush administration was released, the last thing one expected was both support among the population and avid defense of the barbaric prisoner mistreatment by former government leaders. Instead of shame and humiliation that this government condoned and defended myriad human rights violations, one of the architects of torture, Dick Cheney and several Bush officials hit the airwaves defending torture with overwhelming support from the religious right. This is particularly disgusting when one considers that Cheney actually approved of torturing detainees that were innocent and evangelicals still supported the human rights abuses.
When asked directly if he approved of torturing innocent captives, Cheney said “I have no problem as long as we achieved our objective (preparing for the Iraq War). Cheney was reminded of a detainee who was chained to the wall of his cell, doused with water, and froze to death while in C.I.A. custody. It turned out it was a case of mistaken identity, but in Cheney’s, and a majority of Christian’s minds, the torture and death of detainees that turned out to be innocent “do not present a problem as long as we achieve our objective.” Cheney said “We got authorization from the president and authorization from the Justice Department to go forward with the program.
Cheney was reminded that America prosecuted Japanese soldiers in World War II for waterboarding American prisoners, and without remorse he claimed that “it is a really cheap shot to even try to draw a parallel between the Japanese who were prosecuted for waterboarding after World War II and what we did with waterboarding individuals;” including the 25% of innocent Muslims who were abused in custody. Innocent Muslims, by the way, that Cheney claimed were not American citizens and thus unlawful combatants, terrorists, and people who committed unlawful acts of war against the American people. It is noteworthy that America invaded and occupied a sovereign nation, so how 25% of admitted innocents were “unlawful combatants” is beyond the pale; particularly when innocents were “egregiously tortured” to justify invading Iraq.
According to a recently released Department of Justice document, “There was constant pressure on the intelligence agencies and the interrogators to do whatever it took to get information (to justify invading Iraq) out of the detainees, and when people committing torture kept coming up empty, they were told by Cheney’s and Rumsfeld’s people to push harder.” This is in spite of “Cheney’s and Rumsfeld’s people being told repeatedly, by the CIA and many other private operatives (at black-op sites) that there wasn’t any reliable intelligence that pointed to operational ties between bin Laden and Saddam, and that no such ties existed because the two were fundamentally enemies, not allies.”
Still, Bush, Cheney, and senior Bush administration officials “blew that off and kept insisting that the interrogators weren’t pushing hard enough, that there had to be some way to get that information;” like pushing harder. Cheney also claimed that the some of the innocent persons who found themselves in the CIA’s torture programs were “put in places where we could proceed” with the devastating interrogation program find out what they knew. The travesty, besides torturing human beings, is that an overwhelming percentage of Americans agree with Cheney and think torture is justified.
According to a recent Washington Post/ABC poll, the despicable majority of Americans believe Bush and Cheney and do not classify the CIA’s techniques as torture; 59% of the barbaric population thought the inhumane treatment and illegal acts of torture were justified. If those statistics are not shameful enough, America’s Christians were more likely than the general public to support acts of torture. According to the polling, 69% of white evangelicals believe the CIA treatment was biblically justified, compared to just 20% who said it was not. It gets worse as fully three-quarters (75%) of white non-evangelical Protestants said CIA treatment was justified; white Catholics were just as barbaric and believe the treatment was justified by a 66-23% margin.”
The idea that millions of Christians in the United States believe in, and support, torture as a justifiable Christian activity belies their claim to be “followers of Christ.” It is true that there are historical examples of Christians embracing brutal interrogation techniques, but it is now, like it was then, in opposition to Christ’s teachings. In 1252, Pope Innocent IV formally sanctioned torture as a means of extracting “truth” from “suspects” during the Medieval Inquisition, and the Church perpetuated the practice during the Spanish Inquisition. In both cases, people the Church “suspected” were heretics (terrorists) and innocent were strapped to a rack and had their limbs ripped off.
Many of the religious right leaders who support torture justify the CIA and Bush administration acts of inhumanity cited the Old Testament as a valid reason to torture Muslims regardless if 25% of them were innocent. Their contention is that in order to save lives, innocent Muslims had to “forfeit their right to life and dignity,” even though torturing “unlawful (innocent) enemy combatants” did not save lives. But that is apparently the privilege of being an American evangelical; free reign to abuse Muslims at will and with government-authorized immunity from prosecution. Hopefully the rest of the world’s governments take legal action against this exceptional nation’s former leaders; whether they claim bible immunity or not. One thing is now abundantly clear and beyond refute; there are very few followers of Christ in America and it is exactly as one might expect from a barbaric population.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.