Tuesday, December 13, 2005
The Curious Word 'Honor'
Three generations of American statesmen of both political parties constructed a powerful alliance. With this alliance, America prevailed in her greatest challenge, the Cold War, and with it, America emerged just fifteen years ago as the world’s paramount power. This power brought with it still greater responsibility. Our Government has assumed a conscious mantle of leadership, but the manner in which it has sought to pursue a new and highly controversial war has not always done us credit. As the London Times wrote in a powerful editorial on Sunday, one decision in particular has betrayed the vision of the Founding Fathers and the common bond of the English-speaking peoples. It is the decision to haul out of the armory of shame the old tool of royal prerogative, torture.
Have I missed something? I haven't seen any evidence that the U.S. has tortured anyone. I've seen strong assurances that the U.S. absolutely does not use torture. And I've seen stories that a few guards abused prisoners and were prosecuted for it. I've also seen stories that the liberal left and left-leaning news media make things up to suit their purposes. So I need concrete evidence.
'The liberal left" and "left-leaning news media". That's what passes for political discourse in America today. And these ignoramuses have the vote. God help us. Thank you for your excellent article.
Sometimes honor is in the eye of the beholder. Consider the expression "honor among thieves." Perhaps there are profit centers surrounding torture. Certainly there are profit centers among thieves. Look at the political scandals in Washington, DC; look at the wagons circling. Perhaps the "honor" displayed by their associates concerning the culprits has as its profit center self preservation. No one shows "honor" by falling on one's sword any more. Delay, Delay, Delay, and the problem may go away, at least until after the next election.
The truth is that some people believe in torture. The reasons may vary, but, they believe it is useful.
As evidence, I offer the first two comments. The first cheerfully ignores the flood of stories about the US outsourcing torture and Sec. Rice's convoluted evasion about the issue. The second blames the "left leaning media" for talking about it. Hint: Fox and the Wash Times talked about it too.
Neither will discuss "honor", the topic under discussion, and how to honorably torture.
Honor is irrelevant for an Administration and electorate that do not belive in truth as a basis for governance. Honor is hardly an issue for a religious right which purports to believe in God, but forgets the Ten Commandments and is willing to kill for no reason but to exert power and political control at home. This is democracy - people were given a choice between a President who was a war veteran and one who idled his time at home under false pretexts. O tempora, O mores.
I think this series of comments shows how the torture debate continues to be "out of stasis," in the sense that, the two sides are arguing past each other.
Horton's post seems to me to be an argument that some of our leaders and soldiers, and some people acting as agents of our government, have behaved towards detained persons dishonorably. Horton calls those actions torture, and defines honor by drawing on the decision of the Judicial Committee of the British House of Lords, and on the thoughts of a leading military ethicist who recently, apparently, committed suicide.
A Christian Prophet does not directly respond to that argument from Horton. He does not say, for example, "None of the evidence I've seen so far makes me concerned about whether our soldiers and agents are behaving honorably. Everything I've seen seems honorable."
Instead, he sidesteps the substance of the argument by re-defining terms, saying that the behavior that Horton is referring to does not fit the definition of "torture." And by insinuating that reports of any such behavior coming close to fitting into the definition "torture" were made up by the liberal media and lefties.
Eric responds by calling A Christian Prophet an ignoramus because of the insinuation that the reports of the behavior were biased or false.
Like Eric, I liked the original post a lot. It resonates with me. But that's because I agree with it.
But I agree so strongly, and I believe the real issue to be so important, that I don't want to sweep aside a comment like A Christian Prophet's as ignorant. Instead, I want to realign the debate. Okay, so we don't call it torture; whatever we call it, given what we know about what happened -- e.g., the pictures and testimony coming out of Abu Ghraib -- is that the sort of behavior we want our government to engage in? Is that honorable behavior? If you think so, why? Why, for example, don't the arguments presented in the British decision persuade A Christian Prophet?
"Honor" is a little bit like "kosher," and ancient Jewish law says you eat the pig if your life's at stake, not to mention that a little bit of pig in the soup (2%) is just fine. That said, "no pig" is the law and so should be "no torture."
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