We ought not to be torturing people. It really comes down to just that simple notion: We ought not to be torturing people.
We're a freedom-loving people, trying to convince an occupied country that they should value freedom as well. Torture is antithetical to freedom. How can we do our job in Iraq if we have concentration camps there, where torture is commonplace?
I'm hearing arguments coming out of the mouths of people in the administration and those who support them. These arguments are utter bilge and they serve to undermine the basic moral tenet here: We ought not to be torturing people.
Argument #1 - What we're doing pales in comparison to what Saddam Hussein did.
I refuse to accept this argument. It allows Saddam Hussein to set the moral standard. Should we let one of the most brutal dictators in history set that standard? I think not. There isn't some invisible line set by Hussein that we can approach but not cross. We set our own standards for what is acceptable and what is not.
Argument #2 - Where were the complaints about torture when Saddam Hussein was torturing people? Why hasn't anyone complained about this before?
Again, this puts Saddam Hussein in the ethical driver's seat. More importantly, I refuse to accept the notion that if someone fails to protest behavior in the past, they waive their right to protest such behavior in the future. Using this argument attacks the person who is protesting torture by attempting to suggest hypocrisy on the part of the protestor. It does not address the torture itself or the moral implications of torturing people. Try again.
Argument #3 - The issue is being inflated for the sake of partisan gain.
This isn't an issue of which party captures the presidency in November. It's an issue of whether our behavior is consistent with our principles. I'll say it again: We ought not to be torturing people
I don't mean to imply that supporters of the current administration are the only ones who seem to have lost focus here. I hear this coming out of liberal mouths these days: Our reputation is shattered. We've lost the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people.
Our reputation, while quite important, is a secondary concern here. Our primary concern should be that people are being tortured. I'm not saying that our reputation is unimportant, but in terms of importance, it's secondary to the fact that people are suffering torture. Outlawing torture is an end in and of itself. If we stand against torture, our reputation will change accordingly. We should be doing this not solely because we're afraid of what everyone else thinks about the torture incidents. We should be doing it because people are suffering and because we ought not to be torturing people.
This is as close to black-and-white as it gets in this world of shades of grey. We must stop the torture now and make sure it never happens again because torture is wrong.