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Tue

28

Apr

2009

Prosecuting Torture or Growing Gardens?
Tuesday, 28 April 2009 05:40
by Carolyn Baker

As most readers of my writings know, I don't concern myself with what the two ambiguously separate wings of America's one political party are up to. I have more important things to do like preparing personally and with my community for the collapse of empire. This is not to say that I condone torture or feel numb when thinking about it. Yet, while some may question what could be more important than prosecuting torture, the current dither on this issue leaves me feeling bewildered, very much like a child growing up in an abusive family. The child has witnessed and been the victim of torture-physical, emotional, or spiritual and suspects but has not really experienced that in some families, torture does not exist. However, he has come to assume that in most families various forms of torture come with the territory of being born and growing up.

In such a family there may be an uncle, we'll call him Dick, who loudly proclaims that torture is highly successful in keeping the family safe from enemies. One sibling, we'll call him Georgie, agrees with Uncle Dick and believes that the fastest way to fame and fortune is to carry out Uncle Dick's wishes. Another sibling, we'll call her Conde, adamantly asserts that her family does not torture but goes about ordering torture and expecting everyone else in the family to do the same. Also, in this family there might be a father, we'll call him Poppy, who has been involved all his life with a governmental agency that specializes in torture, so consequently, he's quite pleased that Georgie and Uncle Dick did such a fine job of keeping the nation "safe" by way of torture for eight years.

What is more, all of these family members, we'll call them "the cowboys" of new wealth who exult a blatantly bullying approach to torture, differ greatly in their style from an earlier, more sophisticated, East Coast wing of the family, issuing from dynasties of longer duration whom we might call the "the tycoons". The latter do not like to talk about torture at all and certainly attempt to avoid practicing it blatantly. This branch of the family tree prefers to utilize philanthropy and quiet, steady methods of privatization over torture, as they silently subsume endless populations and infrastructures. They came into their own following the Civil War and ascended to primacy through the petroleum, rail, and banking industries of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. It should be noted, however, that both branches of the family tree are like warring gangs who seem to take turns in their leadership of the family from time to time, ostensibly altering its course, yet achieving similar results.

Currently, the tycoons have control of the family and younger sibling, Barky, is in charge. He doesn't want to get "bogged down" in prosecuting cowboy tactics because his job is to serve the tycoons; however, some of the folks from his own political party who don't understand the cowboy/tycoon power struggle, we'll call them Child Protective Services (CPS), want to permanently disable the opposite party, as if somehow, this would eradicate torture in the family forever.

What other family members outside the cowboy/tycoon competition do not grasp is that torture is inherent in the family system. In fact, Western civilization could never have triumphed without it. Certainly, the United States could never have been established as a nation without the massive genociding of millions of the continent's native population and the transporting of millions of African slaves to its shores. When one fully grasps the historical realities of the torture of these populations as fundamental in America's founding, one can only conclude that torture is a crucial underpinning of the nation's existence.

The progressive wing (CPS) of the Democratic Party is often unwilling to confront the extent to which its own party has been engaged in torture for decades. It was their Madeline Albright who shamelessly stated that killing a half-million Arab children as a result of the sanctions on Iraq was "worth the price". Zbigniew Brzezinski, who had Albright's Secretary of State job many years earlier, argues that training the Afghan Mujahadeen to ward off Soviet intervention was worth the price of creating a new generation of Islamic terrorists. "What is most important to the history of the world?" asks Brzezinski, "the Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?"


Fortunately, this week, Salon Magazine published "Democratic Complicity In Bush's Torture Regimen" by Glenn Greenwald which illumined the complicity of tycoon child, Jay Rockefeller, along with Nancy Pelosi and Jane Harman in Bush's torture policy. In addition to exposing Democratic collusion, Greenwald's piece demonstrates that not all progressives buy into the CPS agenda.

Those who wish to eradicate America's participation in torture do not grasp the larger picture-the picture that is even broader than the nation's history of torture. I'm speaking of civilization itself which leads to empire which leads to every form of abuse imaginable.

When a heinous crime occurs in an abusive family system, such as the murder of a child, the system is in chaos and collapse. It hits bottom, and the reality of what it has actually become is unequivocally and irreversibly exposed. Only then can members of the system be treated for their illness. Only then do they have the option of reconstructing new lives based on a different kind of system. Until empire is recognized for what it is, the antics of cowboys, tycoons, and other symptomatic machinations persist.

America is torture, and torture is America. What makes the system pathological is the rationale of civilization itself. The paradigm has not only outlived its usefulness but has turned upon itself and the entire earth community.

I choose not to perpetuate the family system by figuring out who's torturing whom, but rather reject the paradigm of civilization which was designed to serve and protect the wealthy and therefore, can only function abusively. All families have their stories, and a few aspects of this family system's story have been useful and enriching, so I will carry those with me to assist me in writing a new story. I have a garden to plant, and I'm deeply engaged in figuring out how to live without the fossil fuels both the tycoons and the cowboys have told me would be there forever but which grow increasingly difficult and expensive to access. And of course, an integral part of healing from the wounds of a toxic family is creating another family and learning how to write the new story with them.

The abusive system of torture prevails in the history and corridors of power of the United States. For me, navigating that system and attempting to bring the cowboys to "justice" serves only to perpetuate the old story and keep me away of the garden I should be diligently tending, the new family I should be writing a new story with, the new skills I should be learning, and the new paradigm by which I should be living and thriving. While that may sound like I don't want to get "bogged down", I know that abusive families will always do what they do best; I have something else to do, and perhaps you do too.
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