June is Torture Awareness Month.
It is a good month to put yourself in the shoes of another, particularly someone who is being tortured. Right now, as you read, in all likelihood someone is being tortured at the behest of the U.S. government.
Have you ever struggled to catch your breath, choked on food or drink “going down the wrong way,” panicked, feared you would die?
How much worse would it be if someone were deliberately drowning you, pouring streams of water over your face as you lay strapped to a board with your hands and feet bound, punching you in the stomach to make you open your mouth and gasp for air?
What would you do in this situation if you were told to name names, any names, or prepare to undergo the procedure again and again and again, each time nearly drowning?
Since 9/11, hundreds if not thousands of people have been arrested and tortured but then released because there was no evidence of any guilt, not even by association.
Remember the McCarthy era and its Cold War paranoia about Communist infiltration? Americans “gave up” names of friends and family members who were no threat to anyone, just to keep their own jobs and to feed Senator Joe McCarthy’s thirst for power.
That was a shameful era in this country, when ordinary people tolerated years of threats to democracy and human rights, personally betraying perfectly innocent others.
Consider how much worse it is today to ignore government-sanctioned torture of other human beings — and to justify that so-called enhanced interrogation in the name of democracy. Is behavior that defies international law and all human rights principles truly a pathway to democracy?
Please check out these resources:
- Trailer for the video Repairing the brokenness
- Trailer for the video Solitary Confinement: In your backyard
- More about torture and what you can do about it
Consciences need exercising. June is a good month to exercise yours.
Kathie Malley-Morrison, Professor of Psychology