Tuesday, March 18, 2008

"Torture R US" - What do you think?

I’d like your opinion on what I plan to do.

I’ve decided I need to do more than blog* about our country’s use of torture

The plan:
1. To show up an evening or two a week on a busy street corner in my hometown, Healdsburg, waving a “Torture R US” sign.

2. If people express interest, I’ll hand them a one-page summary of why I’m doing this.

3. Encourage others to become visible in their communities on the torture issue, using any message that feels right to them.

Two reasons why I’m doing this:
1. In the introduction to the 37 articles in the Washington Monthly, "No Torture. No Exceptions," this paragraph stood out: “Over the past decade, voters have had many legitimate worries: stagnant wages, corruption in Washington, terrorism, and a botched war in Iraq. But we believe that when Americans look back years from now, what will shame us most is that our country abandoned a bedrock principle of civilized nations: that torture is without exception wrong” [emphasis mine]. I want to be able to say that I did everything I could to stop our country's use of torture.

2. How our country is treating terrorism suspects is affecting how other countries, groups and individuals treat “the enemy.” For example, in the April issue of Harper's Magazine, John Leonard reviews The Translator: A Tribesman's Memoir of Darfur by Daoud Hari. The review starts with a chilling description from the book of a Janjaweed man who tied a parent to a tree, then forced him/her to watch while he skewered his/her daughter on a bayonet and danced around with her in the air. Leonard describes the book as a “…..geography of an African tragedy….a Darfur the size of Texas, where ….’torture was the popular new thing because Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib were everywhere in the news at that time, and crazy men …were now getting permission to be crazy'’’ [emphasis mine].

I want to take action locally because I can walk to the street corner and won’t be contributing to climate change.

Please e-mail me at gejonas@sonic.net or post a comment to let me know what you think about my plan or to propose a different plan.

* Previous posts here, here, here, and here.

(stick figure with sign: thanks to Pat Denino)


cb said...

Gail I admire and appreciate you for taking action on this dreadful policy. I have The Translator and have read it. I don't believe the atrocities that are going on in Darfur and in other countries in Africa are in response to our policies on torture here. I wrote to my reps and signed petitions asking that Bush's veto be overrulled, to no avail.
I eagerly await a new and wiser regiem.

Ann said...

Gail, I admire and support you in this endeavor. I have no idea how the policy makers in Washingtong, our elected representatives, can possible allow that the United States condones torture. It is simply morally wrong, reprehensible, and gives way for our troops to be treated in the same manner. In addition, information received as a result of torture is highly suspect--tortured people don't tell the truth, they tell what the torturers want to hear.

Go, Gail, go!

D Burke said...

There is no question but that the US use of torture set a new dark tone for the mistreatment of prisoners everywhere. Guantanamo indeed contributed to the torture of people in Darfur. We tend to forget how news-savvy people are in stressed nations. What the US was doing was all over the news all over the developing world, and it has changed the rules of acceptable and unacceptable behavior remarkably.

Anonymous said...

Can you link to your fact sheet?

Thanks, Janie