‘Torture Awareness Month’ Sweeps Washington

Mark Tooley is President of the Institute on Religion and Democracy (www.theird.org) and author of Methodism and Politics in the Twentieth Century. Follow him on Twitter: @markdtooley.

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It’s not really clear what Religious Left groups want beyond prosecuting and presumably imprisoning Bush-era officials tied to “torture,” while compelling the Obama administration to abandon its own continuation of Bush policies. Do the anti-torture activists want to release all detainees? Or should they be tried in civil courts and possibly detained in civilian prisons?  May the U.S. continue to kill terrorists, as in the Osama bin Laden raid, or through Obama’s increased reliance on drone attacks?  Killing terrorists obviously avoids the moral questions surrounding their treatment during detention.

But since so many religious groups that belong to NRCAT are led by functional pacifists who reject not just the U.S. War on Terror but all war, presumably they reject the drone attacks et al. Presumably they envision terrorists apprehended through international law enforcement, Mirandized, tried with proper legal counsel, and PERHAPS detained in commodious facilities.

Is even courteous detention of terrorists, preceded by U.S. and international legal niceties, acceptable to the NRCAT and wider Religious Left?  If so, they do not say.  They do not strongly condemn terrorism or the underlying radical Islam behind it. They do not particularly express great concern for the victims of terrorism.  Nor do they express any significant concern about defending the lawful civilization whose legal niceties they demand for terrorists seeking to destroy it.  The underlying assumption of much of the NRCAT coalition is that U.S. resistance to terror is itself somewhat morally suspect.

Some officials within NRCAT member groups have since 9-11 vaguely cited morally understandable “blowback” against the U.S. from its ostensibly unjust overseas adventurism.  And it seems not unfair to imagine that many within NRCAT and the Religious Left see the conflict between the U.S. and radical Islamists as a maybe morally ambiguous disagreement between two offending parties. And the morally neutral Religious Left is the appropriate party to adjudicate the dispute.

There are real moral issues involved in detention policies that merit serious ethical and theological reflection.  But NRCAT and the Religious Left, as they fixate on U.S. “torture” during their anti-torture week and month, show no evidence of ethical or theological seriousness.  Instead, they offer mostly moral vacuity.  Perhaps other more ethically reflective religious leaders will rise to fill the void.

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  • Schlomotion

    Once again, CIA shill, Mark Tooley is advocating torture. When he is not advocating the colonization of Africa, pro-Christian gun smuggling, or persecuting the Methodists, he advocates torture and the subversion of the US Constitution.

    • Anon

      Poor loser has nothing better to do than come to a site he hates and leave comments on every article like an OCD psycho. Sad …

    • JoJoJams

      Schlomotion, while colonization may seem passe in this day and age, there is much that can be said regarding it – like much of those despotic African nations were better off under western imperialism, and have turned in to misled hell-holes as the native culture was given free reign. Regarding torture, certainly you've heard the canard that if it were your loved ones kidnapped, and you had one of the guys with knowledge of their whereabouts, you would probably think of "torture" in an entirely new light. And as for the constitution, I'm sure you're aware that it applies to the United States, and U.S. citizens. Not foreign terrorists, who don't even fit the geneva conventions of an armed, national military. Historically, and how nearly every other nation treats prisoners of war, we are comparatively angelic in our treatment of prisoners of war.

      I really think you have to be a plant, with the inanities and stereotypical extreme loony left perspective you bring to this sight. Most times you're amusing, anyway. But at least the other lefty poster, Amused, sees and agrees with us on the danger of islam.

    • Darkken

      Just because you hate everything the US is and stands for, don't put the rest of us Americans in our self loathing self hating rant against everything western. As a matter of fact since you love those 3 rd world savages so much go live there, I am sure you would be more happy.

  • Sensible SImon

    As the bio says Mr. Tooley is the president of a religious society. Hi group proclaims, on their "about" web page, you may like them if "if you want your church to have a strong, prudent voice for the Christian teachings that offer the surest foundation for a democratic society." Which is surprising because its hard not to see Christ, via the New Testament, as anything other than a "functional Pacifist" that Mr. Tooley seems to be wary of. Its difficult to find support in scripture for torture, drone attacks, imprisonment and moral code of revenge and hatred that appears to be Mr. Tooley idea of what is wrong with the religious left (the last two words that he keeps capitalizing for some reason). It would not appear Mr. Tooley is familiar with the New Testament. He can find it in the second half of most standard Bibles. In it there is much talk of primarily of being decent to each other. He may find it an enlightening read.

    • MikeWood

      Your post raises some of the dilemmas that an avowedly Christian nation faces when facing threats to its character and existence. You seem to be advocating a pacifist approach, which to me sounds like "never defend yourself because it's morally wrong to fight". I've had conversations with Quakers who actually believe that Hitler could have been defeated in Europe through non-violent resistance. This, to my mind, is complete nonsense. Gandhian tactics will not prevail against an enemy with no moral scruples. Imagine you are engaged in non-violent resistance with Nazis; they tell you that for as long as you persist they will execute 50 children every day until you stop. What would you do? cont'd…

      • Sensible SImon

        Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I think you made the mistake of thinking I was a Pacifist. That would be incorrect. I was more interested in that fact the religious left (as Tooley has it) has grounds in their religious scripture to protest the mistreatment of humans. Mr. Tooleys ideas around revenge, hatred, attacks do not. So it is hard to see on what moral ground he opposes them. I agree with your remarks on the pragmatic self defense. Though to be fair to pacifists one can see look at the rise of the Christianity under the Roman Empire primairly spread underground and through martyrdom. Anyway, it does not matter who is in control, eventually any power seeds the roots of it own destruction, luckily democracy often softens the blow of the destruction.

    • MikeWood

      Under these conditions you would be crushed and your pacifism would be crushed too; much as Buddhism was obliterated in Afghanistan. Without the fighting resolve of Charles Martel, Europe would have succumbed to Islam in the 8th Century. There would have been no Reformation, no Methodism, no Quakerism because Islam would have reduced Europe to the tyrannous ruin that it has made of the Middle East.

      I agree we have to be watchful that we do not betray our ultimate values even as we strive to defend them but nor can we surrender for that will betray our ultimate values too

    • Drakken

      Turning the other cheek is no longer an option when dealing with savage 3 rd and 4 th worlders, the only thing that protects us and our way of life is the mailed fist, anything else now is appeasement.

  • MikeWood

    Under these conditions you would be crushed and your pacifism would be crushed too; much as Buddhism was obliterated in Afghanistan. Without the fighting resolve of Charles Martel, Europe would have succumbed to Islam in the 8th Century. There would have been no Reformation, no Methodism, no Quakerism because Islam would have reduced Europe to the tyrannous ruin that it has made of the Middle East.

    I agree we have to be watchful that we do not betray our ultimate values even as we strive to defend them but nor can we surrender for that will betray our ultimate values too

    • StephenD

      Couldn't have said it better Mike. Good job.

      • Sensible SImon

        I agree. Though as noted above I am not a pacifist. I think the point is the article seems to attack the religious left (largely Christian) for the stance against torture. But that seems weak because Christianity IS a pacifistic religion, so of course Christians are going to protest torture based on their religious principles (peace and love) not political (leftist/communist/jihad friendly). The article seems to imply otherwise. We should rightly condemn Christian who are pro war, hatred and revenge because there is zero ground for it in most orthodox theology, so therefore hypocritical.

  • tagalog

    Funny, I thought this month is Gay Pride Month or something.

  • Jonah

    All true. And we continue to see the ways in which the legacy of US torture continues to play out today. Consider the long-term impact on detainees – AND our solders & veterans as well. Sorry, but I just finished reading the book "None of Us Were Like This Before." It really shook me to the core, and recommitted me to the fight against torture. I did find it heartening that so many military personnel were also against torture. That's definitely encouraging…

    • kong.ming

      Reality show contestants go through worse.

      Self deprecating for credibility is really getting old.

    • Drakken

      Those of you useful idiots of the left who scream about the high moral ground are always buried in it.

    • sneed5

      "Hitman" Obama has solved the torture problem. Kill them before they have a chance to talk!!

  • kong.ming

    "The latest additions to the anti-torture campaign include activism against any long-term solitary confinement in U.S. prisons"

    Putting Islamic terrorists aside and ignoring their growing capabilities of nuclear and chemical attacks, let's look at what would happen with just domestic criminals.

    The Unabomber, possibly the most intelligent murderer ever, would associate with criminals who have the ability to order murders outside prison, like the head of the Gambino crime family and the leader of the Aryan nation.

    Crack kingpins from NYC and Baltimore would live in a dormitory along side Columbia and Mexican cartel leaders. The most vicious sociopathic pedophile torture murderers who call themselves "the spirit of hatred incarnate" would be there as well.

    The Russian mob says as angels have heaven vors have prison. Follow these fanatical ideas and you wouldn't be that far away.

  • http://tarandfeathersusa.wordpress.com/ Iratus Vulgas

    In order to take TAM seriously, it must include listening to Nancy Pelosi speeches and reading Schlomotion blog entries.

  • mrbean

    This is reall torture by Muslims of an apostate who converted to Christianity. Watch it all the way through. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyWldmhg00I

  • Ghostwriter

    Idiocy,thy name is Schlomotion.

  • http://RussP.us Russ P.

    Calling waterboarding torture is an insult to those who have suffered real torture. I can't help but wonder if these people even know what real torture is.

  • WilliamJamesWard

    Torture was a loud clammoring of the left in the Obama campaign against GWB who he was
    running agaist, John McCain just happened along. The sophmorish theatrics draw attention
    to the past so Obama can run against GWB again and torture is and emotional and frivolous
    canard for and upcoming Democratic campaign for a continuing empty suit with a vacuous
    record of accomplishment. Nothing new under the sun, the left has it's roadshow and themes
    which usher in the scorn of the thoughtful but support of their emptyheaded loonish following.