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Archive for February 19th, 2008

I Care

I just received a many-times-forwarded email full of hateful jingoism and rhetoric. I was surprised, because the person who forwarded it to me is a very intelligent and loving person. I thought about it for a bit, and, as I usually do when I receive this kind of thing in my e-mail, I checked Snopes to see if I could verify the background. It wasn’t written by an angry housewife. It was written by a journalist, Doug Patton, for GOPUSA in June of 2005.  I’m not going to copy the whole email or article here. You can go to the source yourself to read it if you’re interested.

What I am going to say here is that I do care. I care about humanity. I care that people are treated as humanely as possible in their given circumstances. I believe that the Bill of Rights is something that our forefathers perceived as being basic rights for humanity, not for Americans only. I care if my nation is behaving in such a way as would incite outrage in my fellow citizens if other nations were behaving that way.

When I was a kid, I was taught that two wrongs don’t make a right. I was taught that I was supposed to treat other people the way I wanted to be treated. What I see in this article, and in the e-mail I received, is the belief that two wrongs do make a right–as long as the second wrong is perpetrated by the victim of the first. I see the belief that others are to be treated as they have treated us, whether it for good or evil.

And that’s why things are so bad in the world. 

End terrorism? Hey! I’m all for it. End it by abusing prisoners in our care? No. The only way terrorism will ever be stopped is when those who perpetrate it find another method of getting their message across. Sadly, there will always be those who prefer to carry their message via war and bloodshed. Such actions are not to be tolerated, of course, but neither should they be emulated.

Defend our country? Absolutely. But how is insisting that one “doesn’t care” if prisoners are tortured in something equivalent to a “college hazing incident” defending our country? Isn’t college hazing illegal? Isn’t something that takes away a person’s humanity morally reprehensible?

I’m going to close this with a few quotations about human rights, a little food for thought, if you will.

“From the beginning of our history the country has been afflicted with compromise. It is by compromise that human rights have been abandoned. I insist that this shall cease. The country needs repose after all its trials; it deserves repose. And repose can only be found in everlasting principles.” –Charles Sumner

“Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans, born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage, and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today, at home and around the world!” –John F. Kennedy

“The Framers of the Bill of Rights did not purport to ‘create’ rights. Rather, they designed the Bill of Rights to prohibit our Government from infringing rights and liberties presumed to be preexisting.” –Justice William J. Brennan

“You are a human being. You have rights inherent in that reality. You have dignity and worth that exists prior to law.” –Lyn Beth Neylon

“I am the inferior of any man whose rights I trample underfoot.” –Horace Greeley

“Give to every human being every right that you claim for yourself.” –Robert Ingersoll

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