Thursday, July 14, 2005

The American Way of Life

A Washington Post article from today reveals that the tactics criticized in Abu Ghraib were first used in Guantanamo, with the approval of Donald Rumsfeld.

The article states:
The report's findings are the strongest indication yet that the abusive practices seen in photographs at Abu Ghraib were not the invention of a small group of thrill-seeking military police officers. The report shows that they were used on Qahtani several months before the United States invaded Iraq.

These tactics are not a means by which to abate terrorists or to resolve conflicts in Iraq, since they only justify hatred of the Americans in the eyes of those victimized. The fact that many forms of torture used in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo focus on religious persecution and cultural abominations, only strengthens the message that "liberation" is not the highest priority for those orchestrating the "war on terror."

I would also like to comment on the rhetoric following the London bombings. The notion that we can only "defeat" the terrorists by "not letting them tell us how to live" and maintaining "our way of life" permeated both American and British press following the event. I couldnt help but wonder what "way of life" these people were passionately protecting, because it largely seemed to involve "business as usual." It seemed that these newsanchors and media personalities were missing the fact that - and this is my conjecture, but I think it is arguable - terrorists for the most part don't care if you sit in a cubicle tomorrow and stop and buy a new pair of shoes on your way home from work.

Our way of life is not defined based on whether or not we shop less and if we continue to work 40 hour weeks. Our way of life should be defined based on values we uphold in the world. The desecration of other cultures and religions is not a defendable way of life. The invasion and occupation of other countries is not a defendable way of life. The exploitation of other countries' work forces for cheap labor is not a defendable way of life. Imprisoning and torturing people without due process so that we might momentarily feel a little safer is not a defendable way of life.

Those unfortunate celebrities who are nearly accused of high treason when they suggest that the rise in terrorsim world wide might make us examine our position in the world aren't suggesting that we should raise our hands and surrender to whatever demands anyone with a bit of explosives might make. But it is crucial to understand that it is not our "freedom" nor is it our amazing work ethic that is pissing people from other parts of the world off.

It is a sign of great hubris when a country equates reflecting and reconsidering their actions as equivalent to a "defeat". It is a sign of strength and wisdom to admit their wrongs and correct them where it is possible and prudent.


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