Epistle To the Bloguer@s From A Traveler
In 1999 I was traveling in India when Columbine happened. Everywhere I went, and I went to some pretty remote places, people I met, well at least those who had televisions, wanted to know one thing. That one thing, loosely translated, is WTF is wrong with the US anyway? What kind of crazy batshit country produces these kinds of homicidal maniacs? And why? I didn't have a good answer. If we had a few beers or got to know each other a little, I would might have a chance to begin to try to explain it, but I couldn't. And that's not because I'm inarticulate. It's because there is no satisfactory answer.
And now this. Tuesday I'm traveling to Ireland. And you know what? Everywhere I go, and I will go to some pretty rural places, people I meet will want to know one thing. That one thing, loosely translated, is WTF is wrong with the US anyway? What kind of crazyland country has black sites, extralegal extraditions, Gitmo, Bagram, waterboarding, torture, Abu Ghraib AND, and this is the important AND, AND announces that nothing should be done about those who tortured or ordered torture or wrote bogus "legal" memos to justify torture? And what kind of country that does all of that has the chutzpah (that is a revered Irish word) to lecture other countries about human rights? Isn't that against the law in the US, to torture prisoners? Isn't that against International Law, to torture prisoners, and then also to fail or refuse to prosecute the torturers? Isn't that what the US prosecuted various Japanese soldiers for about 60 years ago? Didn't the US say that the excuse of "just following orders" just wasn't good enough to keep you from hanging? Trust me on this. On Tuesday evening, when I am sitting comfortably in a pub in Dublin, bemused by my good fortune and friendships, slowly working my way out of jet lag and into a reverie about James Joyce and looking greedily at the bottom of a pint, somebody will smile and ask me the question. And, of course, I don't have a good answer. How could I? I'm not inarticulate. I will buy a round from time to time. But for heaven's sake, WTF am I supposed to say about this? There really isn't a satisfactory answer.
Well, Mr. My Friend, I could begin, that's quite a question you're asking me. I'm as enraged and unhappy about this as anyone, well, almost anyone. I'm not nearly as enraged and unhappy as the people who were tortured or their families, but aside from them. I haven't got a f*cking clue why immunity or lack of action this was so prominently announced, and while we're at it, I have no idea WTF you or I or anybody else can do about it at this point other than raise a ruckus. Not at all. And, Mr. My Friend, a first step toward making a ruckus is that you really need to visit the torture petitions and sign them, one and all. And then, and only after yo do that, let's have another pint and see what kind of ruckus we can create.