Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Torture

There's no other word for it, is there? The Mukasey appointment, approved yesterday despite the man's refusal to acknowledge the simple truth and with the connivance of a pair of Democrats I had previously admired, is but one more instance of our craven capitulation to the venal abuse of power on the part of Bush and his administration.

How did we get to this point, in America, where we allow ourselves to be led around by the nose by a man who apparently lacks the honesty to acknowledge what is plain to the world? "The United States does not torture," he repeats like some crazed mantra, as though by their repetition the words might somehow be believed. A man of this kind would surely in previous generations have been hounded out of office. Instead, our elected officials seem mesmerized into letting him have his way at every turn, and we are condemned to stand by and watch this cynical dishonoring of the most basic of human standards, the most basic of principles on which this country was founded. We have surrendered ourselves into the hands of men without conscience or consciousness, men who lie and abuse the power with which they were entrusted, men who ignore our will and spit in our eye with impunity.

How did this happen? How does it continue to happen that this man and his crew of bullies and liars work their will in a world that increasingly despises them? I am disgusted. I am disgusted with myself, who continue to sit here and blog, as though that were some significant action in the face of a government--my government--that ignores the plight of the poor, the sick, and the needy not only in our own country but around the world, and instead makes needless war and squanders the country's wealth on those very "weapons of mass destruction" it deplores in the hands of others. How does it happen that the voices of reason and conscience are belittled and ignored?

Enough for now. This morning, I woke with more than my usual share of outrage. What's a Buddhist to do, in such a dire circumstance? Breathe? Await the forces of karma to set things aright? Smile the smile of the Buddha?

You see what I mean?

16 comments:

thailandchani said...

Detach?

PeterAtLarge said...

Good thought, Chani!

KathyR said...

How? With the complicity of people like Dianne Feinstein. Her politics have always been on the righty side in my view. Not the right side.

How does this "detach" thing work?

PeterAtLarge said...

Kathy, as I understand it, non-attachment is a basic Buddhist principle because, as the Buddha is reported to have said, attachment is one of the great causes of human suffering. If we are to end suffering in this lifetime, we will need to learn to deatch from such things as needs and judgments, not to mention outcomes which we can't control anyway. Easier said, perhaps, than done--especially in the brutal current circumstances. That's the wisdom, though. I agree with you about Feinstein. Boxer far closer to my views... Did you try that soup I recommended?

Mark said...

"The question is not whether to be engaged or not. The question is how to engage without losing the contemplative life." -Thich Nhat Hanh

I think Thich Nhat Hanh would tell us to see the injustice in the world and actively change it while remaining mindful. It isn't the activities we should be detaching from, but it is their outcomes we shouldn't cling to.

PeterAtLarge said...

Well said, Mark!

TaraDharma said...

we do what we can, because it is right. breathe. walk. contemplate. meditate. scream. laugh. and work for change. just by spreading the word we are engaging.

and yes, not cling to outcomes, very well said.

robin andrea said...

What Mark wrote, those words by Thich Nhat Hanh, are essential to living in the world. We do live here. Detachment saves one person, engagement without losing the contemplative life saves the world. I could be wrong, and I realize that's a sweeping generalization, but that's just how I see it at the moment.

BTW-- I saw your hummingbird photos. Wow, there were a lot of them, and they were a spectacular green! Beautiful.

Cardozo said...

Senator Feinstein is one of our representatives out here in California.

Might it be constructive to get on the phone to her office and demand (as a constituent) an explanation of her vote?

If her reasons are found insufficient, we could at the least convey our disapproval. I'm game if you are, Peter.

Piyal Walpola, MD, PhD said...

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Piyal
http://wisdomthroughmindfulness.blogspot.com/

PeterAtLarge said...

Welcome, Piyal--and thanks for the kind words. I'll plan to add "Wisdom..." to my blogroll shortly, Let's keep in touch. Cheers, PaL

Illini Alum said...

I agree with Peter and Kathyr. Feinstein seems to be striving for different goals than the rest of us on the left. I wonder what those goals are? Was she always this accommodating? If not, what effected the change?

If this was an episode of "The West Wing" I would say somebody must have blackmailed her or offered to trade votes.

slouching mom said...

Amen.

Back when Reagan was in office (the Teflon president, wasn't he called?), I couldn't believe that people seemed to take whatever was dished out by that administration.

And yet here we are, in far worse circumstances, and still we just...take it.

Why do we not fight back?

liberata said...

Well, Peter, since you asked what I have to say about Mukasey, I think that the comments in the NYT article of Nov. 1 say it all:

http://tinyurl.com/37qq9z

Here's an excerpt:

"Scott L. Silliman, an expert on national security law at Duke University School of Law, said any statement by Mr. Mukasey that waterboarding was illegal torture “would open up Pandora’s box,” even in the United States. Such a statement from an attorney general would override existing Justice Department legal opinions and create intense pressure from human rights groups to open a criminal investigation of interrogation practices, Mr. Silliman said.

“You would ask not just who carried it out, but who specifically approved it,” said Mr. Silliman, director of the Center on Law, Ethics and National Security at Duke. “Theoretically, it could go all the way up to the president of the United States; that’s why he’ll never say it’s torture,” Mr. Silliman said of Mr. Mukasey."

There is no way Mukasey was going to call waterboarding torture.

As for Feinestein's statement (see
http://tinyurl.com/2lpap6 ), "I believe that Judge Mukasey is the best nominee we are going to get from this administration" ... well, it gives a whole new meaning to the expression passive resistance :-)

PeterAtLarge said...

Thanks, all, for joining in this conversation. I'm especially thrilled to have several first-time commentors, andI'm hoping that you'll all be back. I do love this community of bloggers, with both a conscience and a voice!

carly said...

Idealists, You cannot change the things you are talking about unless there is a true revolution of ideas. And you cannot create nor support a such a movement by merely setting an example or activity as usual, because it's not a strong enough influence. Working from within an established religion, especially a pacifistic one, is an illusion and delusional, because those ideas have proven ineffectual historically at stemming the evil.

The evil has been identified. George Carlin nails the causes of the effects no established religion can counteract nor balance:

http://www.glumbert.com/media/wakeupamerica

There is at hand a powerful system of ideas which has not ever been implemented on a large scale. Reject artificial constructs. Wake up from dreams. Millions are beginning to see its usefulness. It is the system of natural law.