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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 8/9/09

Bush Tortured Children, and America Yawns

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At an Amnesty International conference a few years ago, I had the honor of attending a talk by Clive Stafford Smith, a British attorney who represents some of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.

Smith shared some alarming details about the abuse that his clients received. Perhaps most shocking was Smith's description of cigarette burns and other scars that covered the body of a teenage prisoner. This boy had been taken into custody when he was only 14 years old.

And this kid is allegedly not the only child who has been forced to experience the nightmare that is Gitmo.

In a forthcoming book, Hearts of Darkness: Torturing Children in the War on Terror, which was recently excerpted at truthout.org, author Henry A. Giroux describes some of these cases in horrifying detail. He righteously condemns the culture of cruelty in which this kind of thing is even possible, and the "resounding silence" on the part of the media, which keeps it off the public radar.

But, even if the mainstream media did find the courage to cover these atrocities, would it make a difference?

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It seems as though many Americans have become so desensitized by the right-wing spin machine that they see all Muslims as the enemy, in an overly simplistic "us vs. them" kind of mindset.

Influenced by haters like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter, and Sean Hannity, they think every Middle Eastern person looks suspicious.

Influenced by those right-wing extremists, they see every Muslim as a jihadist who wants to finish the job that the 9/11 hijackers started.

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And, influenced by those right-wing extremists, they regard the perceived "enemy" as less than human. Like the "gooks" of World War II and Vietnam, the "towelheads" and "hajis" of Iraq and Afghanistan are painted with one big broad brush. Even the children. How else could they justify the killing and maiming of so many innocent civilian men, women, and children, and the torture of any human being, let alone a child?

This is what we have become, seduced by the misguided emotional appeasement of hate.

We attacked an unarmed nation that posed no threat to us or to its neighbors. Then we tortured human beings. We abused children. And we killed the innocent. All paid for with our tax dollars.

America has lost its conscience.

If we are ever to regain a moral standing in this world, Americans need to wake up and see these atrocities for what they truly are: War crimes, and crimes against humanity

And, if we are ever to regain a moral standing in this world, those who committed these crimes -- and those who authorized them -- must be held accountable.

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And they must be held up as an example of a foreign policy gone terribly wrong, a foreign policy gone evil.

Because what is more evil than these things that have been done in our name in the past eight years?

There is no excuse.

No excuse at all.

 

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Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views (more...)
 
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