Third Party & Independents Archives


December 10, 1948, United Nations General Assembly resolution 217 was adopted. It is titled Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 2 of this proclamation reads:

“Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty."

Hillary Clinton, speaking December 10, 1997 at the 50 year anniversary of the adoption made some startling statements when compared to the current trend in the War on Terror.

"Those who study the Holocaust know that the Nazis were able to pursue their crimes precisely because they were able progressively to constrict the circle of those defined as humans."

These things raise some questions in my mind. How many more news stories of torture need to come out of the War on Terror before enough is enough? How many more photographs must be leaked to the media before we conclude that this is not just the failings of a few "bad seeds"? How many more soldiers have to go to jail before we take a stand against leaders like Alberto Gonzales who call the Geneva Conventions "obsolete" or "quaint"?

Isn't Clinton's statement the very thing we're doing in the War on Terror right now? Have we not constricted the circle so much that we can excuse the broader use of torture and at the same time punish the individual acts? This two piece disparity works out well for the Bush administration.

Right now our leaders condone these acts of torture as reliable ways of intelligence gathering. At the same time many Americans justify the actions on the basis that these are not normal prisoners, but instead a subset of detainees without the normal array of human rights. This is a thought process that directly contradicts the reasoning behind UN resolution 217. We can hold captives indefinitely without a trial because we call them terrorists. Yet, with no trial how do we prove they are terrorists? That's an outrageous discrepancy and something that sickens me to my core.

When leaders like Gonzales disregard human rights in their policy, why is it any surprise that our soldiers overseas would disregard human rights in their actions? When something comes out, such as the recent accounts of mock executions and sexual abuse in the detention center at Bagram Kabul, the hanging death of an Iraqi prisoner in Abu Ghraib, or recent details of the broken nose and fractured leg, Americans react only against the people on the lowest rung of the food chain, with some of the soldiers involved being punished and others getting off. How many stories must come before we decide this is more than a few "bad seeds" and instead a plan of action instituted by leaders like Donald Rumsfeld?

Now the Bush administration wants $41.8 million to build a permanent prison in Cuba. What will we do with this new prison? Will we permanently torture our captives? Will this new prison turn into an American style gulag where we can send political prisoners without trial and without human rights?

Today the right has "Rathergate", "Easongate", and even Ward Churchill being crucified in front of everyone. Today the left has Jeff Gannon/ James Guckert, Karen Ryan and Alberto Garcia, and the others paid to propagandize for the White House. Where is the moral outrage over torture? Martin Luther King, speaking about the "sick nation" of the 1960's said:

"We tolerated hate; we tolerated the sick simulation of violence in all walks of life; and we tolerated the differential application of law, which said that a man's life was sacred only if we agreed with his views."

Somehow between 1946, and today, the American people lost touch with the base values of human rights. A society that debates the torture of human beings is sick indeed.

Posted by Adam Ducker at February 18, 2005 12:02 PM