Photo Source: McClatchy Newspapers
Time Magazine gives everyone their chance to vote for the "Person of the Year" 2007, from a list of ten, including people from J.K. Rowling to Mahmoud Ahmadinajad (I am not kidding).
The little "Copyright" symbol in my "Americans Against Torture" is, unfortunately, whimsical: no such organization exists, though a Gallup poll a couple of years ago showed that a majority of Americans opposed the use of torture: "Gallup pointed out that while President Bush recently said, "We do not torture," most Americans 'think otherwise.'"
Well, if "AAT" doesn't exist, readers near a patent office should feel free to steal the title and band together. Individually, many Americans have already taken a strong stand against this practice which we all thought had been banned by the Magna Carta, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution, not to speak of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Worthy of "Persons of the Year" hall-of-fame-ness:
- Former President Jimmy Carter, our national conscience, spoke out early
- Senator John McCain, himself a torture victim, has legislated valiantly
- General Antonio Taguba, who helped awaken the world to the horrors of Abu Ghraib
- Scott Horton, lawyer-turned-blogger for Harper's & scourge of former Atty. Gen. Gonzales
- Jane Mayer, of The New Yorker, whose "Outsourcing of Torture" is must reading
- Mark Danner, same magazine, author of "Torture and Truth"
- Joe Galloway*(below), war correspondent, author of "We Were Soldiers Once...and Young"
- Andrew Sullivan, blogger for The Atlantic, showed the Nazi roots of "enhanced interrogation"
- Ariel Dorfman, escapee from Pinochet's torture regime
- The US military JAGS, who drafted the torture-free US Army Interrogation Manual
- The Center for Victims of Torture: CVT used to just help victims of rogue regimes
- Human Rights Watch: world-respected voice based in New York
Well, including Chilean Ariel Dorfman in this list is o.k. if we define "American" in the Hemispheric sense. He wrote "Death and the Maiden," and teaches in the US. Ditto for Brit Andrew Sullivan. Apologies to all the brave opponents of American Torture who don't appear on my list - I know there are many.
I guess people in the Bush Administration who have deemed the Geneva Conventions "quaint" and who refuse to believe that "when Americans do it, it can't be torture" have never learned the lessons of "Do Unto Others" and "What Goes Around Comes Around." What I can't get is this: didn't they watch movies like Judgment at Nuremberg, The Great Escape, and Bridge on the River Kwai during their formative years and see that it's the Bad Guys who mistreat prisoners, who torture, abuse, interrogate in an "enhanced" fashion? And that it was exactly that reprehensible behavior that landed Nazi German and Japanese camp chiefs before the international tribunals of the day?
My list shows that there are still people who can distinguish between the Bad Guys and the Good Guys, and they want to be part of the latter's team. Go ahead and vote, if you want, for Time's laughable list of ten usual celebrity suspects. But I salute the people and organizations in my (incomplete) list who remember what it is to be a truly patriotic American.
* The last word, from Joe Galloway's recent article in the McClatchy syndicate:
When George W. Bush was the governor of Texas, the state investigated, indicted, convicted and sentenced to prison for 10 years a county sheriff who, with his deputies, had waterboarded a criminal suspect. That sheriff got no pardon from Gov. Bush.
I rest my case.