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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Durbin 

Apparently, he just apologized, tearfully, on the Senate floor. I've not seen any news reports of it, yet, but this is one of the more disheartening things I've seen in a while. [UPDATE: yahoo story here] He was right. He shouldn't have apologized. See the Star-Tribune, via Atrios:
The comments that were criticized came late in a long, thoughtful speech on the Senate floor in which Durbin reflected on the United States' obligation to be better than reprehensible regimes of the past. He talked at some length about mistakes American presidents made in previous wars (repealing habeas corpus during the Civil War, interning Americans of Japanese descent during World War II, taking over the steel industry during the Korean War), and he urged President Bush to recognize and rectify his mistake in prisoner treatment during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Durbin's entire speech is too long to reprint, but lengthy excerpts can be found on the page opposite.

Durbin was spot on in his assessment of Guantanamo. That's why he was so roundly attacked. He told the truth. And his message is of vital importance; the United States is better than this.

The issue of whether Durbin's rhetoric crossed a line is small potatoes compared with the undeniable truth that American treatment of its prisoners has crossed many, many lines -- of morality, of international law, of practical benefit.

But instead of discussing what goes on at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and other prison camps, the right would prefer to get into a senseless argument about whether "we" are better than the Nazis or Saddam Hussein or the Soviets or Pol Pot or whomever a critic of Guantanamo might raise as a comparison. It's a tactic the group running Washington now has used again and again: They're quite deliberately changing the subject -- from Guantanamo to words spoken on the Senate floor.

It's not too late, as Durbin said of Bush in his speech: The senator should stop apologizing and keep up the criticism of the hellhole America's military has created at Guantanamo. He has no reason to be defensive; he's telling the truth. It's a truth Americans need to hear, and its tellers must resist intimidation.
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