Torture - America's "Heart of Darkness"


7 comments posted
America's heart of darkness

I agree with Matsu but not his last line ..."We have been lead, however unwillingly, into the heart of darkness."

It was not unwillingly because Americans have voted Bush in twice and even democrats have voted for torture and the invasion of Iraq. You are all guilty. It is time for Americans to take a long hard look at themselves and how they see the rest of the world because it is their ignorance that has led to this.

Ricardo's picture
Posted by Ricardo (not verified) on 13 October 2006 - 1:19am
Darkness comes softly

Thank you for taking the time to reply. I agree that Bush has twice gotten into the White House. In the first case, with less than a majority of the voters voting for him.

But to your main point about Americans looking at themselves. I don't think Americans see themselves as torturers. It is decidedly un-American. We can get into who voted for what, when, and how and try to paint all with the same brush. We can say that every American is "guilty," but having said that, what have we really accomplished besides venting anger?

I disagree that ignorance has led to the Administration's decision to use torture as part of national policy. I say it is fear, coupled with a failure to appreciate American principles. One of the principles is that we take the high road rather than the ends justify the means.

The current Administration wants vengeance. They want a counter-jihad, and while certainly the United States is justified in stopping attacks against its people, wanting to punish perpetrators seems to have blinded all to more pragmatic issues.

There used to be a saying Americans had ... actually Americans used to have lots of saying that are now considered out of fashion. One of those saying was that "it is better for a 100 guilty men to go free than to condemn an innocent man." I use the 1961 film, "Judgment at Nuremberg" as a touchstone,

Ernst Janning: Judge Haywood... the reason I asked you to come: Those people, those millions of people... I never knew it would come to that. You *must* believe it, *You must* believe it!

Judge Dan Haywood: Herr Janning, it "came to that" the *first time* you sentenced a man to death you *knew* to be innocent.

It is the fact that corruption begins in small ways and while it might feel good to place the sins of the fathers unto the children, Americans have been fed a diet of "let's get the bastards." It's a low key lynch mob mentality that is more focused on revenge rather than the ends. The means are incidental.

What is the end in this case? Hanging jihadists? Trying them in courts where they are not granted full rights. We might say terrorists don't deserve full rights, but doesn't that say we've already convicted them in our minds and that these are kangaroo courts?

Would we torture an innocent man? No. He's presumed innocent.

Part of the punishment is the torture itself, because these individuals are "guilty," don't cha know. This is what is behind our slipping into darkness.

Healing must come. We must get over our own rage. We must heal the nation's spirit. It was Lincoln in his Second Inaugural Address who said of our people, something we have forgotten about what needs to happen. Not vengeance, but grieving and healing and calling upon the best within ourselves which is what Americanism is all about. Lincoln says,

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

Bush is no Lincoln. And alas, he has led us into the heart of darkness.

Matsu's picture
Posted by Matsu on 13 October 2006 - 10:38am
To follow this logic

All Iraqis are guilty of suicide bombing. All Italians are guilty of organized crime. All men are guilty of rape.

The people responsible are the people who do it and the people who allow it to happen. Bush was elected by some 50 million people. 250 million didn't vote for him. And much can be said that our elected representatives don't truly represent the people, just the special interests that have bought the government. The people don't have much say in it all, in the end.

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 13 October 2006 - 4:14pm

Sadly we cannot claim Conrad as an American writer - he was Polish born and as an adult adopted Britain as his home. He is generally considered a British writer.

When considering the Bush administration, the Republicans generally and the disastrous wars they have led us into I am reminded of the Yeats poem "The Second Coming" when he writes that


The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity."

Grace's picture
Posted by Grace (not verified) on 15 October 2006 - 3:23pm

Conrad considered himself British. The antecedent was "Apocalypse Now," and not Conrad. Thank you for catching my error.

Matsu's picture
Posted by Matsu on 15 October 2006 - 6:42pm
I think the basic idea was

I think the basic idea was that a long time ago the rich guys in the middle east would have wanted to turn their young people loose on anybody if they could have, but they just couldn't have got to us back then.

Their young guys mostly want jobs, and they can't get them when their culture is not ready for the modern world, so they valndalize things to get people's attention, and then sometimes that can "wake their local adults up" and the adults will grudgingly create a job for a young man.

In their culture there were always jobs and duties, but in the modern world a job is something.., a person with some cash,like a business owner, needs to build, or create and organize.

So their rich guys will actually help the young zealous boys become vandals, that is really all a terrorist is, it is a young adult asking for some help. Forcing you to notice he grew up, you have the choice, you hire him, or he will kill people.

If our culture forces them to be democratic and capitalist, they will say "fine, but don't starve us, or we will blow up your buildings."

We have no business trying to change their culture, but they did have some rich guys who couldn't care less, and they were getting closer to learning how to fly. That means this has been going on from like a hundred years ago..., the concept of their young guys vandalizing things to get people's attention so they can get a job, is not new in the middle east, the idea of them going global, is new.

Don't mess with them, and they won't show up.

But after they had the ability to go past their borders, then we have to find the source of the cash for the terrorists. Then we need to stop that guy, whoever that might be, from supporting the young vandal boys.

Arabs are not stupid, they do not need an education or seminar on how to live correctly like the Americans do.

Their culture is five thousand years old, America has been here 200 years, and so far it is a bit messy.

Playing games with, or getting involved with anything in the middle east will always get us the results that any country ever got when they got involved trying to change or manipulate those people... it will be a war, and a mess.

If I lived in that heat, in that desert, with almost no water and nothing but other angry people living in a desert, I would probably be just like them within three years, I would not want anybody showing up from a nice climate and telling me what to do.

It is easy to live in southern California and think we know how people need to live in a desert full of scavengers and shrewd tradesmen.

This is more like Coke against Pepsi, or McDonalds against Burger King,it is not "all the terrorists" against "America" it was a group of terrorists against two buildings in New York.

Get it right.... it was a company, the terrorists hit, not America.

The part about sending hijacked jets to the pentagon and wherever, was probably about specific offices in the pentagon, they were aiming at a particular window,in the pentagon, not the whole thing.

They seemed to aim the jets at particular hard drives of particular computers. It was more like industirial espionage from the looks of it. If they wanted to damage us, and really terrorize us, there are much more effective ways to make us afraid.

A lot of times I would love to jump the counter in a fast food place and kick the living hell out of the arrogant employee, or manager, seriously, but in the middle east they might just do stuff like that a lot faster, they will not hesitate.

There is no use doing time in a federal prison just for a cheese burger, but really, it is the lack of respect I am concerned with and if I let the young fast food worker get away with it, they will think it is ok to try that same behvavior with the Arabs, and the arabs will fight.

When I write something like this, I get afraid of some guy who worked at McDonalds, who took that arrogant attitude, he learned being a creep to growm men like me who worked hard and earned our cash, and that guy is working for homeland security today putting his creepy attitude to work shutting down anybody who is not creepy like him.

The darkness in America, is when the women and school teachers protect that arrogant cocky creep who insults me in a fast food outlet.. when I should be allowed to just kick his ass, bigtime.

Don't be so proud of yourself thinking a terrorist even cares who you are.

All they want is for the American companies to stop messing with them. Specific companies,who will hire security guards, to protect their over seas businesses, and then hassle their locals.

The big problem is when those companies, dress those security guards like American soldiers, running our flag.

We dont hear much about this part of this story do we?

No... we never hear that it might have been arrogant Americans in the 70s and 80s who got all this going on in the first place, and they should answer for their activity.

I will not sympathize with bad guys, or pretend I think Washington is showing me anything like brains or initiative.

But I can not pretend I forget the last thirty years of seeing all this coming and knowing the American overseas companies were eventually going to attract some very angry people.

If they treat those people, the way they treat me, I can see why they would be angry.


Todd's picture
Posted by Todd (not verified) on 18 October 2006 - 4:28am
Just what the rest of the world

Just what the rest of the world who opposed Bush's actions toward Iraq thought. This wasn't about liberation or freedom. This was about money and power. Or maybe the president just wanted to do what daddy failed to do. To prove himself. Not to the world mind you, only to himself.

BitShifter's picture
Posted by BitShifter on 14 November 2006 - 3:02am