Saturday, September 30, 2006


As a young girl in the 50's, I remember a book of my father's -- something like "World War II in pictures." It was sort of a coffee table size book (before there was such a thing), with a bright red cover and pages filled with black and white photos. But the photos held horror for this girl. I would peruse that book over and over, trying to place some reality in pictures of mass graves filled with hundreds of bodies, pictures of prison camp survivors who looked to be barely more than skeletons, faces of fear, suffering, and torture.

I learned more about the torture of prisoners in books I read: "Life and Death in Shanghai" by Nien Cheng, "The Hiding Place" by Corrie Ten Boom, and "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl. I don't necessarily recommend these books for their political views, but the descriptions of torture and suffering are vivid indeed.

I always felt thankful that I was born in a country where such atrocities could not occur. Americans are civilized. Americans would never condone torturing prisoners. Americans understand that when people are tortured, they will tell you whatever you want to know -- even if it is untrue. Torture is not only useless in producing reliable information, it demeans humans who engage in it. What sort of people can commit torture? Surely only the lowest most evil form of life.

It is naive to think that torture doesn't occur in all prisons. There are evil people working in prisons who ought to be inmates. But at least it's against the law, and if reported, those people can be brought to justice.

Until now.

Congress and the president have decided that sometimes torture is the right thing to do. American's have and will continue to commit atrocities against prisoners. And I realize Americans are not so civilized after all.

Senate OKs bill for detainee trials, interrogations.

I wonder if children in other countries now fear Americans the way I feared the Nazis as a child.

1 comment:

Jacqui Binford-Bell said...

They should fear us. And that is very, very unfortunate.

I maintain to be able to torture you have to be a sociopath. And if the stats on serial killers is any indication we have more of those than any other country.

At any time in the US there are 100 or more serial killers at work. Interpol says less than 50 in all of Europe or European held countries. There are no reliable stats from China and parts of South America and Africa.

And then there are the sociopaths in government. Something has gone deeply wrong in the United States and for once I am thrilled most people do not know New Mexico is part of it.