This is terrorism’s sick genius. Terrorists invite us — seduce us — to share their Manichaean worldview, to respond to savagery with savagery, to join them in madness. “Make us safe!” Americans demanded. And so our elected leaders launched two wars, saw WMD where there were none, launched surveillance programs with virtually no limits, and embraced “enhanced interrogation.” As justification, the White House and the CIA joined Machiavelli, Marx, and Stalin in insisting that the end justifies the means. Lots of individuals bear responsibility for the horrors detailed in the Senate committee’s torture report. But if we are honest, that journey to the Dark Side was a collective failure — and sobering evidence of how fragile our principles really are.
These are very powerful words from William Falk over at The Week. Powerful words that I adamantly agree with! Being a Star Wars fan I thoroughly appreciate the title of the article. It seems as a country we have gone the route of Darth Vader instead of Luke Skywalker and our abject fear is the primary motivator. A fear that seems to drive so much in current-day America. A fear that is driving us away from long-held principles of morality.
Our obsession with fear is exactly what the terrorists want. They can spend a few bucks and maybe a martyr or two to force us to spend billions in order to keep an event from happening again. Our fear illogically causes us do things we know in our hearts is not what America is, or at least was.
The very idea of Guantanamo Bay Detention facility is against so many principles of our American system and yet it has survived two presidents and more than a decade of legislative bodies. The logic goes that the people held there are terrorists and not American citizens so that is OK and since Guantanamo is not really American soil so we don’t have to live by our principles there. But that does little to ameliorate the fact that we are ignoring our basic moral standards in the process. Our abject fear allow us to keep prisoners there without any charges or proof. We simply fear them and that is enough. It has been found that many of the people have been held there for over ten years were innocent of any of the accusations against them. Yeah some of them are bad guys but does that justify our imprisoning others who are not?
I realize that these events since 9/11 are not the first time we have allowed our fears to obliterate our principles but the magnitude of the reaction I believe is at the head of the class. Those who study recent history ( I realize that “recent” is a relative term) know that we imprisoned over 100,000 of our citizens simply because of the color or their skin and the slant of their eyes. They looked like the enemy and so they were to be feared. Japanese Americans suffered because of that fear. And this was not the first time we let our fear overcome our principles.
This is not the first time we have moved to the dark side but it is probably our darkest episode. I just pray at eventually we will move back into the benevolent “force” that until recently has guided us so well…