WHO WE ARE

What do they mean when they say “That is not who we are,” when speaking of torturing prisoners of war who inspired and led murderous actions against the United States? Why this surprise at the use of “enhanced” interrogation techniques? If we are not a country that will use all means necessary to protect our citizens, who are we?

We were founded on revolution, on fighting to protect basic freedoms for our citizens. We fought and killed our oppressors until they retreated across the pond. Now, like the fifth generation of a family that came to its wealth on the backs of hard working, sacrificing forefathers and now disdains the very work that made them wealthy, we disdain the fight to maintain our lives, our liberty and our pursuit of happiness.

I often thought when I was younger that had I been a Jew in Treblinka or Auschwitz, I would have died early on. I would have trusted that no one would hurt me, and if I stood before Mengele, and he signaled me left to the showers, I would have gone, thinking compliance would save me. Now, I’m not so sure. I now know the system does not always work in your favor. I watch people succumb to the smiles and promises of politicians, acquiesce to minute changes in our systems that build and build to spell massive losses of our freedoms, and join in the rallies and chants of thugs and rabblerousers like Sharpton, and I wonder, what I can do to warn them off that path.

Most likely I will wring my hands, keening into my notebook … what can one woman do, after all? one woman who is the wrong color for rebellion, who is easily invalidated by virtue of her age, who is neither sophisticated nor cool, but who is tired of non-productive protest; who believes that work and prayer and getting up one more time makes you free. The irony of that sign over Auschwitz,” Arbeit macht frei” has always seared my brain – one of those mocking subtleties of evil we must never forget – the use of our very beliefs and freedoms against us.

I suppose there is no easy civilized answer to the use of “enhanced” or torturous interrogation techniques…but I do believe in the law of consequences, and that we are the sum total of all our choices. If someone chooses to torture and kill innocents, they must be prepared to endure the same – without impunity.

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