Wednesday, October 05, 2005

To Be American

The Senate is gearing up for a long-overdue debate regarding (among other things) the torture of detainees. Amendments by Senators McCain and Graham are both expected to be voted on shortly. The gist:
McCain's amendment would ban the use of "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" against anyone in U.S. custody and require all U.S. troops to follow procedures in the Army Field Manual when they detain and interrogate suspects. Graham's amendment would define "enemy combatant" and put into law procedures for prosecuting detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

The Bush administration has issued a veto threat if the amendments are passed. If that came to pass, it would represent the first veto Bush has issue during his tenure of office. How twisted that the only thing apparently beyond pale for President Bush is forbidding Americans to torture people. That would be an awful reflection of this administration's (lack of) values.

Obsidian Wings asks everyone to write to their senator, and I wrote to Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN), focusing on the McCain amendment. Here is what I sent:
Sen. Coleman,

I am writing to you to ask your support for the McCain amendment regarding American detainee policy. Simply put, America should never, under no circumstances, tolerate torture. This is not a "trust the President" issue. This is not a "trust the military issue." This issue cuts to the very heart and soul of what it means to be an American. That we are not thugs and lawless brutes. Our mission in the war in terror is not just to kill evildoers. It is also and equally to create the conditions where young men and women are not driven to terror in the first place. They may "hate us for our freedoms," but that does not make the responsible choice the elimination of our most cherished values and principles.

I've always thought that being American is not about a nationality, ethnicity, or location. It's about a commitment to certain ideals. That some policies are beyond the pale of what a respectable society will tolerate. That there are some lines we will refuse to cross, no matter how evil our enemy is, no matter what atrocities they commit, no matter how just our vengence may be. It is that commitment to a higher set of values that makes us different from them.

I attend Carleton College, but I am a registered Minnesota voter, and rest assured this vote will be instrumental in how I evaluate your character when you come up for re-election. I understand that it is difficult to break from the party line, especially when the administration is whispering in your ear that to oppose any tactic he may choose in the war on terror is to support the terrorists themselves. However, you and I both know that the motivation behind this amendment is not to weaken our fight against evil but to strengthen the moral foundation upon which we stand. The ethical foundation. The American foundation.

I look forward to seeing your "yea" vote on the McCain amendment.

David Schraub
Carleton College '08
The Debate Link:


jack said...

Do we really feel calling our opponents unAmerican will improve political discourse in this country?

I mean, I'm not saying they didn't start it, but.

flaime said...

Where, in this post, is anyone called unAmerican?