One of the hallmarks of Germany's slide into Nazism is that there was considerable disagreement among Germans at the time over exactly what was going on. Even among German Jews there were those who famously predicted that things couldn't possibly ever get that bad. Even at the end so many Germans were in denial about the reality of the situation that the Allies very wisely forced German civilians to walk through the newly liberated concentration camps to see the piles of bodies with their own eyes so that there could never be any doubt about what had happened.
Sadly, it appears that Americans are not so different. Although George Bush's approval ratings are at historic lows, there are still tens of millions who support him, and therefore tens of millions of us who support the now-legalized torture of human beings who have never even been charged let alone convicted of any crime. We have descended into the darkest depths of barbarism, where people are whisked away by darkness to secret places merely because they have been denounced by accusers unknown.
But it's OK because they are witches -- er, I mean Jews -- er, I mean terrorists. It's OK because when the Jews -- er, I mean terrorists -- are gone, then we will be Safe.
I can barely muster words under the crushing weight of irony and meta-irony in this situation. We have Muslims rioting in the streets to protest against people who dare point out that Muslims riot in the streets. We have Christians forming the bedrock of support for a government that kidnaps and tortures to make the world Safe for Democracy. And we have both sides seeing the other irony with 20/20 clarity, but utterly blind to their own.
Time to stop the madness.
By voting to legalize torture the Republican party utterly abandoned any claim they might have had to the moral high ground. Torture is never justified. Not ever. The old canard about the ticking bomb scenario is utter hogwash. It is nothing more than a thin veneer of rationalization to cover up our fear and bloodlust. Sure, if you knew that this person had the information and if you knew that the only way to obtain it was by torture and if you could be certain that the information was accurate and if you knew that the information would allow you to save multitudes then there's an argument. But the fact of the matter is you can never know these things. You can only suspect them. And suspicion does not justify torture. Ever.
The United States of America has been torturing people illegally for some time now, and is now going to continue torturing people with full legal sanction. At the moment the moral weight of this decision rests on the shoulders of the legislators who voted to legalize torture. But after November that will no longer be true. This November the People will speak, and ignorance is no longer an excuse. A vote for a Republican is a vote for legalized torture. After November the blood of the innocent victims (there have already been documented cases of torture of innocents, and there will certainly be more) will be on our hands. If the Republicans win this November and you voted for them, the blood of the innocents will be on your hands. And when, years or decades from now, when we wake from this collective nightmare and the victors, whoever they may ultimately be, force us to make the long walk through the camps to see the bodies, you will not be able to wring your hands and say, as many Germans did, "I didn't know. I didn't know."
Now you know.