“In training a dog it is never necessary to hit the animal… but sometimes you’ve got to smack that hardheaded fucker right across the nose to get its attention.” – USN Chief Petty Officer, to me, right before he smacked me across the nose.
He was right, it got my attention.
I may have been wrong about torture.
Upon further examination, it appears torture might be effective after all.
Oh, not effective at gathering reliable and actionable intelligence. No, that’s a wash. Sure, you might be able to pull a few nuggets out of some terrorist, under the right conditions, but it’s nothing you can depend on.
Nor is torture an effective deterrent to our enemies. In point of fact it appears to spontaneously generate more enemies. And it appears to make the ones we have already even more determined in their hatred of America.
But in at least one case, in one single aspect, torture appears to have been supremely effective:
“Frankly, this idea that somehow this is gonna make our enemies more likely to attack us, I don’t think so. They’re beheading Americans right now. So that part of it, I dismiss. But what we need to do is come clean. We move forward. And we vow never to do it again.”
That was Senator John McCain, Republican from Arizona and just about the only conservative politician in America against torture.
McCain spent six years in a Vietnamese prison and he was brutally tortured almost daily. It left him … damaged, in a number of ways.
And that experience, it would appear, seems to have effectively overridden his deeply embedded political programming and permanently rewired John McCain into a decent and compassionate human being. Again, in this one aspect only.
On the face of things, it seems that six years of torture at the hands of his Vietnamese captors turned John McCain into a liberal America-hatin’ pussy.
Oh, that. Right. Liberal America-hating pussy, that’s what conservatives called me when I spoke out in opposition to torture as national policy. Logically I assume the same applies to John McCain. The difference is I that came by my sense of morality naturally, John McCain, like most republicans and their sexual orientation, apparently had to choose his.
Funny, isn’t it? How being tortured made a die-hard right-wing conservative Republican like John McCain go against his own party and his own ideology and see torture for what it actually is? Brutal. Terrible. Immoral. Unethical. Illegal. Evil. Dishonorable. Disgraceful. And a violation of everything the United States supposedly stands for. Ironic almost, isn’t it?
Goddamned funny that it took actually being tortured for a Republican to be against torture.
Some of us, well, you know, we were actually able to get there without being locked in a sweatbox, without being water boarded, without being hung by our broken arms and beaten with bamboo canes, without having our nuts hooked up to a car battery.
But John McCain? The North Vietnamese Army, it took them six years to literally beat compassion and morality into that hard headed fucker.
And if they had not, if LT John McCain, USN, had not ended up in the brutal hands of the NVA, well, then he would be exactly – exactly – like the rest of his party.
Quod Erat Demonstrandum.
Which, you know, makes you wonder if maybe we should toss him back.
No, really, what kind of a man would John McCain be today if we’d maybe left in him that Vietnamese hellhole a bit longer?
Maybe a couple more years in a bamboo cage and John McCain would develop a complete conscience and sincere regard for other human beings.
Maybe, just maybe, if McCain had been tortured a bit longer, had a couple more gallons of water poured up his nose, had a few more bones broken, had a few of his meals delivered via his puckered asshole, well then maybe he’d be less eager to go around bombing other countries all the time. Heck, maybe he’d use some of his wealth to help feed the hungry and clothe the poor. Maybe he’d use his power and influence as a Senator to, you know, pass healthcare and education and immigration reforms that actually helped real human beings instead of lining the pockets of his rich friends. Maybe, just maybe, he’d support life, liberty, and equality for all instead of just the people with his skin color and religion and sexual orientation and income bracket.
You know, it’s goddamned appalling that you actually have to torture a Republican to get them to act like a decent moral human being, to live up the morals and the ideals and the exceptionalism that we, the United States of America, that shining city on the hill, are supposed to represent.
John McCain the POW gets no credit from me for coming out against torture.
You shouldn’t have to torture somebody to get them to see the immorality of torture.
You should already know that torture is wrong, un-American, illegal, immoral, and beneath the dignity of a free and just nation.
Just as you shouldn’t have to see hungry people to understand why allowing your fellows to go to bed with empty bellies each night in a nation literally overflowing with food from sea to shining sea is immoral.
Just as you shouldn’t have to see poor people sleeping on the streets and living in cold inequality surrounded by a nation wealthy beyond dreams is likewise wrong.
Just as you shouldn’t have to see millions without healthcare or access to the basic medical services that a majority of the civilized world takes for granted to know that as a people, as a nation, we have failed.
Just as you shouldn’t have to see people who love each other denied the right to marry, to work, to housing, to services, to the same respect and liberty as every single other American, just because they happen to be gay.
Just as you shouldn’t have to see yet another unarmed black youth shot dead in the street or another black man choked to death without consequence, without justice, before you realize that all lives matter – not just that of a fetus in a white liberal’s belly.
Just as you shouldn’t have to see millions in poverty and starvation and disease and slavery and oppression to understand why they want to come here, to America, despite the hatred and intolerance and bigotry of those conservatives shouting and waving signs outside the bus windows.
Just as you shouldn’t have to wait until the warm seas are lapping over our shores and the crops are withering in the fields and the lakes are rotting with dead fish and the air is choked with pollution and the oil is gone along with our hope for the future in order to stop pandering to selfish greed and fearful religion.
Just as you shouldn’t have to be threatened with eternal damnation and endless torture by your small and terrible deity in order not to go around raping and murdering and stealing and generally acting like an asshole.
Just as you shouldn’t have to look at the horror and misery and devastation inflicted upon billions by war after war after war to know that there must be a better way.
Just as you shouldn’t have to look upon the idiotic gridlock and infantile tantrums and incivility of Washington partisan politics to know that you are the goddamned problem.
You shouldn’t need to be tortured in order to understand that torture is wrong.
You shouldn’t have to be tortured in order to develop compassion for your fellow human beings.
You shouldn’t have to be tortured into doing the right thing for the right reasons.
You shouldn’t have to be tortured in order to understand basic morality.
You shouldn’t have to be tortured to become a decent person.
You shouldn’t have to be tortured in order to stand up and speak out.
And you damned well shouldn’t need to be tortured to understand what the United States is really all about.
And if you do?
Well then there’s nothing I can say to you, because you will never understand.
Today we are engaged in a deadly global struggle for those who would intimidate, torture, and murder people for exercising the most basic freedoms. If we are to win this struggle and spread those freedoms, we must keep our own moral compass pointed in a true direction.
– Barack Obama, President of the United States of America