Wednesday, July 4, 2007

A July 4th Reminder to the Pathetic Moral Dwarves Who Run the United States

The Founding Fathers weren't the demi-gods American mythology has made them. They were human, with their full share of personal warts and wrinkles and generational blindspots. But one thing's for damn sure: they took honor seriously. If Washington or Adams or Jefferson could see how Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld have embraced euphemism-disguised torture as national policy, they'd vomit.
So should we all.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. published a wonderful essay in the LA Times back in December 2005, well worth re-reading on this Independence Day, that reminds us of something we ought not forget. During the War of Independence, General Washington, repulsed by the atrocities the British Army was inflicting on soldiers and civilians alike, made the deliberate decision to treat captured British soldiers and Hessian mercenaries decently. "Treat them with humanity," Washington ordered, "and let them have no reason to Complain of our Copying the brutal example of the British Army in their treatment of our unfortunate brethren."
One Colonel Charles Stuart, stationed in the colonies during the war and witness to the torture and ill-use practiced by the army in which he served, reflected on its backwash in a letter to his father: "Wherever our armies have marched, wherever they have encamped, every species of barbarity has been executed. We planted an irrevocable hatred wherever we went, which neither time nor measure will be able to eradicate."
If honor isn't a motive for Bush, Cheney, Ltd., you'd think national self-interest would be. But apparently the moral deafness of American leaders is matched by their stupidity.
Happy fourth of July. And in between hot dogs and beer and fireworks, pause to consider whether the current national policy of torture is planting an irrevocable hatred of all things American around the world "which neither time nor measure will be able to eradicate." And if, like Bush and Cheney, you don't give a damn, pause to think about the kind of future the policy is bequeathing to your kids.
Photo: July 4th parade, Copenhagen, Denmark