American Indifference to Torture

For me the most disturbing thing-- yes, more than wasted American deaths and thousands more deaths of Iraqi civilians, because as monstrous as this is, they are, at least, safe in Heaven dead-- is the current American indifference to torture and death. This will all be paid for with innocent American blood somewhere in the future. The payback for the United States' monstrous behavior won't be visited on the guilty parties, but on me and my own, going about their business like the innocents murdered by a distant weapon on September 11.
"Fear not your enemies: they can only kill you. Fear not your friends: the worst they can do is betray you. Fear only the indifferent, for they allow the murderers and the traitors to run free about the earth." That's a clumsy translation (mine) of a European victim of torture quoted by Harlan Ellison somewhere (it's the holiday, and I don't have recourse to my library to look it up , but will properly credit the fellow later.)
An excellent essay from In These Times about America's collective shrug regarding torture and Dick Cheney's defense of torture. Please see COMMENTS on this entry for more on the games Americans play between Superbowls and church on Sunday. In the words of Robert Stone, "Mickey Mouse will see you dead."

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

They took the gypsy away and I said nothing. Then they took the black man and I said nothing. Then they took the children away and I said nothing. They came and took me away and no one said a word.
DeeAnn

Ormondroyd's Encyclopedia Esoterica said...

In researching the villain for my new story, I found a guy named Michael Townley (or Townsley) who was born in Iowa but spent his youth in Argentina, I believe after his parents moved there. Townsley/Townley was recruited by Pinocet's DINA for political assassinations. He wired a bomb to the undercarriage of (I believe) a Chevrolet in Washington DC. The bomb was detonated in Sheridan Circle by two Cuban anti-Castro fanatics (our own homegrown Al Qaeda, justified in killing anyone even tangentially connected with their own bete noir.)
The bomb blew off the legs of Orlando Letelier, a Chiliean diplomat who had complained in public about General Pinocet's coup against Allende (when Pinochet took over in 1973, Letelier had been arrested, tortured in Tierra del Fuego, and had his fingers broken; hence the complaint). Fragments severed the carotid artery of an American citizen, Ronni Karpen Moffitt. Her husband Michael, a research assistant for Letelier, was riding in the back seat; he was thrown clear by the blast and survived. They'd been married four months. Orlando tried to speak but probably died at the scene, and Ronni Moffit was pronounced dead within the hour.
There's a small bronze memorial on the site here http://www.sinkers.org/pinochet/ and a more detailed account here http://www.dcist.com/archives/2005/01/17/one_day_of_the_condor.php with directions to the memorial.(can someone tell me how to post links inside this window?)
Funny thing is (funny if you're a member of the Addams family) the memorial ceremony meets every year at the base of a statue of of Phillip Sheridan, America's genocide general, who said he "saw some good Indians once, but they were all dead."
Townley has also confessed to the murder of the former Chief Commander of the Chilean Armed Forces Carlos Prats, and his wife Sofia Cuthbert.
Gen. Manuel Contreras, who Townley said relayed Pinocet's orders, says Townley is lying to "cover up his own crimes and protect the intellectual authors" of the murders... "I never met Townley, and he was never a DINA agent. He was a CIA agent." (Contreras is already in prison for his own crimes, and I can't think of any profit he would gain by shiftinmg blame for Townley.)
The CIA, to be fair, rarely does anything that its political bosses-- in this case Nixon and Kissinger-- don't want done. It seems to me that the CIA, like the Mafia, the triads, and other criminal organizations, keep sociopathic bugs like Townley around just in case they need a killing done. These sociopaths are hardly ever part of policy making, and can be easily disposed of or disavowed if things get too public. There's a good account here http://www.tni.org/archives/landau/terrorism.htm
Townley also confessed to the FBI that he organized the assassination of Bernardo Leighton, a Christian Democratic leader exiled in Rome. Townley hired Italian fascists (nice company he runs with!)to shoot Leighton and his wife in the head. (They somehow survived, thanks to the efficacy of Italian fascists.)
Townsley was in the Witness Protection Program for 20 years but is now out and living in the US under an assumed name. The cops in the family tell me there's no way to track him now, but I'll bet someone in DC has his new number.
Sorry is this rambles; first cup of coffee, and all that.
As you know, I didn't start out to write horror. Horror found me.

Ormondroyd's Encyclopedia Esoterica said...

Also telling: Bush's childhood friend Terry Throckmorton: "'We were terrible to animals,' recalled Mr. Throckmorton, laughing. A dip behind the Bush home turned into a small lake after a good rain, and thousands of frogs would come out. 'Everybody would get BB guns and shoot them,' Mr. Throckmorton said. 'Or we'd put firecrackers in the frogs and throw them and blow them up.'" -- May 21, 2000, New York Times quoted by Nicholas D. Kristoff

Anonymous said...

Superheroes are always fighting evil- villains- people like Townley (but with clever names like The Joker and wacky outfits). But there is a groups that is just bad as the villains: the indifferent. The mindless numbskulls who let the evil bastards get away with it all. The people who have expressed to me that after a gruelling, four hours of work they have earned the right to shut off their brains and do nothing but watch TV. These people's only contribution to society is to help the Townleys and Cheneys thrive.
Here's what we need: someone who stands atop a skyscraper, silhouetted by the moon with cape blowing in wind, proclaiming "I have been put upon this earth for one reason: to fight the forces of indifference wherever it may dwell, because at least everyone else has made up there mind which side they're on!"
-Jef

Ormondroyd's Encyclopedia Esoterica said...

It has always puzzled me that in American fantasy lives (movies, comics, television) we admire and fancy ourselves the hero, but then in our waking, "adult" lives we emulate the villains. How many watched "Casablanca"and wanted to be Rick but turned into Major Strasser instead? How would Cheney and Townley explain this to their younger selves?

Ormondroyd's Encyclopedia Esoterica said...

... Which side thought, I realize, avoids your (Jef's) central proposal -- how or what kind of persona do we adopt to break through the indifference? This is part of what led me into teaching, into chipping away at the casual cruelty of children-- but America, thy self-deception is so vast and my talent is so small. A for-instance; I draw an imaginary button on paper and offer the students one million dollars; push the button and a million Chinese will die, by remote control. Can the parents face the knowledge that so many of their blue-eyed darlings would take the money, with a shrug for the agonizing death of a million grandmas, kittens, and babies? What was it Stalin said? One death is a murder, a million is a statistic?
When you figure out a costume design for this hero that will shatter humanity's indifference to suffering, let me know. I recollect one took on the laughing cruelty of the hearty Roman Empire-- but that way lies lonely madness. Confucius tells me to chip, chip, chip away at the mountain with a serene heart, that one does what one can. The Tibetan Buddhist Choyam Trungpa tells me that choosing the path of the Shambala warrior means opening your heart with compassion, and that means that your heart will inevitably break. The true warrior will embrace that; the Cheneys and Townleys will avoid heartbreak by embracing cruelty instead, the easier choice, perhaps, for them.
Enough! This is getting close to the point when Rumi says, "Sit down! You're drunk-- and this is the edge of the roof."