Rev. Rich Lang
Our savior and protector, Jack Bauer
I remember years ago, after 9/11, the Fox Network created the dramatic series “24,” giving America a new savior, Jack Bauer. Having viewed an episode with my two young sons, I said to them at the time that the whole purpose of that drama was to condition their generation to embrace torture and lawlessness as a moral way to secure ourselves against harm. I warned them that they were being raised in a corrupt and perverted America. I wasn’t wrong in my assessment. Hollywood, in partnership with Madison Avenue, dependent upon a Wall Street tethered to the oil and resource extractors, which are connected to the cia and the Pentagon, has turned this country into an impoverished, emerging police state. In response, we the people hunger for Jack Bauer to come and take control.
George W. Bush tried to step into this role with his cheerleading of the Iraq invasion but couldn’t quite pull it off. Let’s face it: The man was a clown elected by a nation too stupid to realize his shallowness. The elites got smarter and put before us a changeling who could sweet-talk us even with the truth. I still remember President Obama humbly receiving the Nobel Peace Prize only to clearly lay out his plan to be a war president. And the public cooed over his intellect, as nuanced as Danish-German statesman Barthold Niebuhr. We were too bedazzled to see that his heart is as bloody and as cold as the Dark Lord himself, Dick Cheney.
All of this is to say that Jack Bauer and Fox won the ideological battle for our soul. We have become a lawless nation torturing and even murdering whomever the Strong Man, currently Barack Obama, chooses. The public assumes that we’ve stopped torturing our enemies. Why do we think this? Because the torturers told us they have stopped. And that’s good enough for willfully ignorant American citizens.
It is simply of no consequence that we are increasing our violations against liberty. It is of little relevance that Gitmo remains open and that our own domestic incarceration system is predicated upon torture, increasingly privatized and not receptive to public scrutiny. It doesn’t matter that our immigration detainment practices include torture. Fear has turned us into a brutal nation of thugs.
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At 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 5, University Temple United Methodist, 1415 43rd St., will co-host an evening conversation about torture. We’ll be joined by Rev. Rich Kilmer, the executive director of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, and Dr. Rob Crawford of the Washington State Campaign Against Torture. Their presentation, “Ending u.s.-Sponsored Torture Forever,” will guide us into a deeper discussion about how we might organize a moral response to this hideous assault on American idealism. Democracy built upon the rule of law, human rights and freedom cannot coexist with torture. It begs the question: Are we still a nation seeking liberty and justice for all? Do we even care?
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