Sunday, April 30, 2006

The Face of the Real Enemy at Gitmo

My Guantanamo Diary truly worth a read, this is the experiences of an interpreter allowed to go and talk with some of the detainees held in a legal black hole by Americans who believe in "freedom and justice". Two sections of this caught my eye, for they are telling about the real problem, who the real enemy of freedom is.....

Over steak dinner, I comment on how nice our military escorts are. They joke and laugh with us. Primo gives me pointers on shooting pool in the CBQ lobby. Everyone brings them beer and cigarettes. I think I had expected them to be more aloof, even hostile. But Tom Wilner, a partner in the Washington office of Shearman & Sterling LLP, quickly retorts: "Yeah, they're nice. But this whole place is evil -- and the face of evil often appears friendly."
"The way these men have been treated and what they've had to suffer makes me ashamed," Tom says. He and the other lawyers think it's a joke that the iguanas at Guantanamo Bay, which are protected by the U.S. Endangered Species Act, have more rights than the detainees. Tonight, Tom is intense, going on about the face of evil, how so many of the perpetrators of some of the worst crimes in history were men who appeared perfectly ordinary, who were kind to children and dogs. I can't stop thinking about what he says.
I can't help but think of the Rwanda scenario where the Hutus murdered Tutsis because they saw them no better than cockroaches. The scale of America's mistreatment of others is very small in comparison, but the same principles are in place. What do Americans, and more specifically the soldiers at Gitmo think about the "detainees" they hold there? To them, they are "terrorist". What does that mean? What is a "terrorist?" Certainly in the eyes of these soldiers, "terrorists" are not them, are not Americans, are not American soldiers and American citizens, not English speaking. More importantly, "terrorists" are evil to them, "terrorists" want to destroy them. "terrorists" have no heart and no feeling. So why should "terrorists" be allowed the same comforts as "regular people?" The real enemy is not the prisoners at Gitmo. Neither is the enemy the soldiers guarding them. The real enemy is also not even Mr. Rumsfeld (as much as my passionate feelings would like it to be). Who is the enemy? I quote Babylon 5:
"Every day, here and at home, we are warned about the enemy. But who is the enemy? Is it the alien? Well, we are all alien to one another. Is it the one who believes differently than we do? No, not at all, my friends. The enemy is fear. The enemy is ignorance. The enemy is the one who tells you that you must hate that which is different. Because, in the end, that hate will turn on you. And that same hate will destroy you." -- Rev. Dexter in Babylon 5:"And the Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place"
The enemy is truly terrorism, but when we terrorize others, are we not also becoming enemies ourselves? Nazis could justify what they were doing to Jews and Gypsies and gays because they justified the existence of people who identified themselves that way. They said to themselves when their hearts were extremely troubled by the murder they saw about them, "It's okay that they die. They are polluting the world. They are animals. I have no qualms about a rat being killed, I should have no qualms about a Jew being killed." This is a much smaller scale with fewer deaths, but the principle is the same. We justify to ourselves the detention of these human beings saying, "It's okay if they are mistreated, and it's too bad if one of them dies in detention. After all, they are "terrorist" and I have no qualms about a "terrorist" dying." This is about remembering and forgetting. Who are we all? What is every single human being on this planet? Where does each human being on this planet come from and what is the destination of each human being on this planet? Are we not all sons and daughters of God? Is not every single child born into this world an offspring of God? What does God think about each and every offspring of His?
10 Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God; 11 For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him. 12 And he hath risen again from the dead, that he might bring all men unto him, on conditions of repentance. 13 And how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth! D&C 18:10-13
The real enemy is not the human being. The real enemy is the principle of terrorizing others, of harming others because they are different. The real enemy is in being a nice guy to those who are "non-terrorists" and a monster to "terrorists." We will not win the "War on Terror" by mistreating detainees. We will not win the "War on Terror" by killing other human beings. When we kill someone else, we cause terror ourselves. No. This war will not be won through violence, but through peace. ***Addendum*** today, May 1, 2006, Ms. Kahn did a question and answer session for people to get a chance to ask her about Sunday's paper on Washington Post's online services, which I recommend as good reading.

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