The issue of torture and Guantanamo Bay has simmered for weeks due to the failure of American leaders. From released memos to the denied release of photos neither was met with forthright conversation on the Bush years and torture and Guantanamo.
Now, with Obama’s speech---after funding for the closing of Guantanamo was stripped from a supplemental bill because the Obama Administration didn’t deliver a plan to Congress---did he provide the kind of speech that will transform the hearts and minds of Americans whose minds have been eroded by the overuse of terms like “terrorists” and “enemy” and “9/11” in the past ten years?
What about Dick Cheney’s speech? What does it mean for the framework with which we discuss this issue?
How we consider both speeches depends on the context with which we read them. The context which the media placed these speeches in would probably lead many to think one side of the debate was what Obama thinks and the other side of the debate was what Cheney thinks. But, is this simply a created dichotomy which served media objectivity more than the morals and values which we Americans seek to uphold and live our lives by?
Quite frankly, Obama’s and Cheney’s speeches were a media event---a showdown or proverbial boxing match (which The Daily Show picked up on last night).
When hosts end segments asking their guests who was the winner, nothing good can come out of the conversation; deep reflection and introspection among the American people falls by the wayside. A chance for America to fix its moral compass was squandered as pundits trivialized an issue that demands blunt, candid, and thorough conversation.
What our nation needs is education not fear when confronting the problem of Guantanamo Bay and the 250-plus detainees. We do not need media engineered duels between political leaders which will only lead Americans to continue to ignore the fact that too many of us have been silent for too long on the issue of torture and Guantanamo.
Obama recognizes this---that education and a need for us to end our silence is vital yet his speech was still predicated on the two things that Cheney predicated his speech on and that the previous administration predicated the scope of their policies on when they were in power.