By Diane Silver
Out here in the Heartland of America where Republicans rule and the military is worshipped, George W. Bush might be forgiven for thinking we'd happily support his push to legalize the torture of terror suspects. Bush, though, would be wrong.
As the days go by and the Congressional debate continues over Bush's torture proposals -- or as Bush calls them, his "alternative interrogation technique" proposals -- there are more and more signs that the Heartland isn't pleased with the president it elected.
Something sticks in the craw about the idea of giving up every value we've ever had, turning aside from our ideas about morality and using torture. It doesn't make us proud to be Americans. Even talking about torture eats at our souls.
More evidence of this growing revolt pops up every day.
Richard Crowson's fine cartoon in The Wichita Eagle shows one view of the Heartland revolt. I don't usually borrow such material, but it shows the mind set of many Kansans clearly. I urge you all to visit The Eagle and to check out more of Crowson's cartoons.
Meanwhile, The Eagle editorialized today wondering why Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback appears to be missing in action from the current torture debate. A deeply conservative Republican who wears his religion on his sleeve as he runs for president, Brownback has remained oddly silent. The Eagle writes:
Several leading GOP senators are taking a brave stand against the Bush administration's creeping moral relativism on torture, which threatens not only this nation's authority on human rights but also its success in the war on terror.
The outcome of this debate touches on the nation's soul, on our very identity and ideals as Americans.
Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., backs the president's position -- no surprise. But Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., has been mostly silent so far. Why?
Over at Rereason, blogger Mike is worrying a bit about his soul and the soul of the Republican Party. Mike bills himself as a "Kansas Sunday School teacher" and lists The Holy Bible as his first and most favorite book in his profile. Mike writes:
Many of my very best friends are Republicans. For some reason, they don't talk politics much these days.Making the current torture debate even more tragic is the fact that many intelligence experts do not believe that torture provides accurate information. Instead, tortured people tent to say whatever they think their torturers want to hear. A discussion about the effectiveness of torture is a debate for another time, though.
My friends, sensible, reliable, people you would be glad to have in your home, grew up on a Republican party that stood for high moral values. The party they supported stood for fiscal conservatism, personal responsibility, small government, and maximum personal freedom.
They were from the proud tradition of Abraham Lincoln.
Theirs was not the pro-torture, pro-secret prisons party the Republicans have become. Their party would never have openly advocated the general suspension of civil liberties. Their party, somewhat isolationist, would never have supported a "pre-emptive" war.
Something has gone terribly wrong with this country.
Saying that does not mean I want to appease terrorists or open our borders to them. However, if we sell our souls, what will we have left to protect? We must do everything we can to keep our people and our country safe. That doesn't mean giving up our values of freedom and fairness, giving up our humanity to do it.