Has Lady Liberty Gone the Way of the Stockade?
NPR’s Talk of the Nation Opinion page hosted Ariel Dorfman recently to discuss his recent writing in the Outlook section of the Washington post. Are We Really So Fearful was the title of the editorial in which he fervently condemns our willingness to publicly debate an issue such as the sanctioned use of torture. Dorfman strongly states that what this does is separate us from reasonable and composed status, to a level that differs us little from the motives of those who seek to terrorize us. The actions we take are no longer those that seek to better humanity as a whole, but simply those that would better our position. The reason a captive is not tortured is because they are powerless to a torturer whose actions should never be classifiable as human in any evolved social sense of the word. These actions are those that should never be instilled within a society, and the mere fact tat we are talking about possible benefits of such practices is astounding from a country such as ours which actively flaunts its form of morality.
The interest of this article only deepens when thought about in the light of a trend noticed by Putnam in Bowling Alone. Americans today are far lest trusting than they were over the past half century. The sad part is that this lack in trust is causing us to move backwards in the human struggle. We cannot seem to realize that we are all similar enough that we can understand another person in what they do, but we make no effort to go so far as to understand. It is from this absence of understanding that we can see why our society has a trust problem. I won’t stop there either; it is this lack of understanding that also causes us to see captives as less than humans, and thus allow us to debate torturing them. The corner of every single moral code is the golden rule; the faith you belong to (or don’t belong to) does not exclude a person from agreeing to this rule. Do not commit the actions that you would not someone else to do to you, and don’t use people as a means to an end. Clearly these standards are abridged when torture is used or even advocated, because the only reason to torture is to get information from a person.
It is from our status as a nation that promotes good that we are falling because of this kind of talk. I think it is sad that what we are debating are our founding values as a society. The right to be treated humanely when you are in a state of arrest is so fundamental to what we stand for that we are destroying the heart of what we are as Americans by doing this. In every way this is sinking to the level that people who terrorize us want us to sink to, and most people fail to realize that this is what allows them to claim victory over us. When they attach, we do not have the ability to remain as steadfast as we put off. Personally I really wish that instead of having to prove our sustain to terrorists by fighting wars, we could prove our fortitude by holding our values and by doing as the heavy television viewer tends to when they get cut off on the freeway, give them the finger.