Wednesday, April 7, 2010

To protest or not to protest...

Congress.org (run by CQ-Roll Call) has an update on the groups that have been protesting the U.S. internment camp at Guantanamo Bay.

The main point of the article is that, since President Obama's inauguration, the protests have diminished to nearly nothing. Why?
When asked whether he felt it was important to step up the pressure against the Obama administration, Lane responded, "What business do I have thinking we ever put any pressure on them?"

So apathy is in the air. Another activist said, "Our big fear was that Americans would get used to Guantanamo, and that’s the direction in which we're headed."

But peppered through the article are hints that the liberal-conservative template of politics (and everything else) just isn't fitting as neatly as it did when Bush was president. Activists are described as "liberal" and they are "trying to hatch a plan of action for the new political climate." That is to say, for the political climate where a "liberal" and perceived ally holds the top office.

Seems to me that the difficulty of thinking clearly about the torture issue (as well as just war and other related issues, as Red points out,) is not confined to Catholic circles. Torture is seen as a "liberal" issue, and now that the "liberals" have "won" it's hard to keep up the enthusiasm for protesting.

Except that it's not a liberal issue. It's a moral issue. It's a human issue. And those who describe themselves as conservatives, whether politically or socially or economically, have many reasons in common with those who claim the liberal label.

I wonder if opposition to torture would have been labeled "liberal" had it been a Democrat in office when the techniques were authorized?

Intriguingly, the only specific group mentioned by name is Witness Against Torture, which was founded by "a few dozen Christians." The article doesn't go any further, and WAT's website refrains from any explicitly religious language, but I would love to know the link between the protesters' faith and their reasons for protesting.

1 comment:

  1. My own admittedly cynical view is that if a government dominated by Democrats had waterboarded some terrorists we'd see almost the exact opposite polarization to what we see now. Mind you, Republicans are law-and-order leaning and Democrats are not, but the spin would be that torture undermines the rule of law, etc.

    If the Obama administration started holding "Christian militia" members at Gitmo and waterboarded one or two of the most notorious homophobic and anti-choice ones for "actionable information", you'd start to hear some really loud cricket chirps from the Left.

    I don't think a large percentage of the population is principled when it comes to torture. I think for the vast majority torture is one of those tertiary issues which gets caught up in whatever other issues of the day people happen to really care about. I saw this happen in spades over a period of six years or so, where left-leaning combox cranks took arguments, some of which they learned from me, and misused them to beat their own partisan drums.

    There is something about the way we "do" politics which leads to these bundles of "tertiary" moral issues: where because of electoral priorities large numbers of people end up formally cooperating with evil in these kinds of 'tertiary' moral issues.

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