Sunday, July 02, 2006

Take my rights -- please!

I love getting these "pass it on" e-mails that go around on the Net. They come almost invariably from the right wing and are frequently aimed at justifying anything and everything the Bush administration does in the pursuit of "terror." Anyone who doesn't approve of taking liberties with the Constitution and Bill of Rights is either an America-hating Bush-basher, an ally of terrorists, or sorely misinformed about the life or death nature of the terrorist threat.

So you'd better wise up and say, "Take my rights -- please!"

This one from 2005 just came round again:
This WAR is for REAL !

To get out of a difficulty, one usually must go through it. Our country is now facing the most serious threat to its existence, as we know it, that we have faced in your lifetime and mine (which includes WWII).

The deadly seriousness is greatly compounded by the fact that there are very few of us who think we can possibly lose this war and even fewer who realize what losing really means.
It goes on at length about how America is the only force standing between civilization and the homicidal Muslim hordes.

This message reverberates around the echo chamber regularly. See Mark Steyn's piece from the January Wall Street Journal in which he laments the lack of "civilizational confidence" apparent in the west's birth rate gap vis-à-vis Muslims. The cure, presumably, is taking out a few more petty dictators or taking civilizational Viagra.

Somehow this unprecedented threat justifies America sacrificing its own values, violating the Geneva Conventions and torture. From the recent piece in the Christian Science Monitor:
But George Washington and his compatriots took their founding principles quite seriously. On Aug. 11, 1775, Washington sent a blistering letter to a British counterpart, Thomas Gage. He complained about gravely wounded and untreated American soldiers being thrown into a jail with common criminals.

Eight days later, despite threatening to treat British soldiers with equal cruelty, Washington admitted that he could not and would not retaliate in kind, writing: "Not only your Officers, and Soldiers have been treated with a Tenderness due to Fellow Citizens, & Brethren; but even those execrable Parricides [traitors] whose Counsels & Aid have deluged their Country with Blood, have been protected from the Fury of a justly enraged People."

Imagine that; a government on the run fighting a desperate war against a hated enemy and treating captured prisoners with compassion and decency. No doubt many of the captured British troops had intelligence that might have been useful to the Revolutionary cause - still, decent treatment was the norm. In the current war on terror, that would be described as being "soft."
Like other e-mails, this one makes light of harsh treatment meted out to Guantanamo's "enemy combatants." Torture, abuse, humiliations and indefinite detention without charges of men picked up "on the battlefield" in Afghanistan -- including those sold in Pakistan for a bounty -- are justified. Because these are hardened killers, "the worst of the worst" as we're so often told by honorable men.

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