[saymaListserv] Call for Quaker response to Torture

Sharon Annis sharonannis at comcast.net
Fri Feb 4 11:47:44 JEST 2005


This Call is being circulated among Friends.  Please consider and circulate
as you are lead.  Sharon

>> 

> >>John Calvi

> >>P.O. Box 301

> >>Putney, VT  05346

> >><calvij at sover.net>

> >>Tel:  802-387-4789

> >>www.johncalvi.com

> >> 

> >>A Call to the

> >> 

> >>Religious Society of Friends

> >> 

> >>To A Conference on the

> >> 

> >>Treatment and Prevention of Torture

> >> 

> >> 

> >> 

> >>Dear Friends,                                     

>          January

> >>2005

> >> 

> >> 

> >> 

> >>I believe the time has come for Quakers to create

> a conference on

> >>torture. 

> >>Increasingly, there are corners without Light in

> American culture

> >>and places

> >>of American domination where there is no longer

> simply the threat

> >>of

> >>abduction, imprisonment or death, but also the

> likelihood that this

> >>includes

> >>torture.  This calculated brutality has become so

> large a part of

> >>our

> >>culture that the U.S. president has 3found2 legal

> grounds to

> >>sidestep the

> >>Geneva Conventions on torture perpetrated by our

> military on

> >>captives. What

> >>was once small and secret is now widespread,

> public, and stated

> >>policy. 

> >>Opposition would be the essence of Friends9 Peace

> Testimony,

> >>practice, and

> >>faith and would add to our history. 

> >> 

> >> 

> >> 

> >>Because there is indication that torture will

> continue and

> >>increase, I

> >>believe it is time for Friends to study this with

> a conference.   

> >>Let us

> >>become informed, spread information, and choose

> action in

> >>education,

> >>investigation, prevention, and treatment. 

> >> 

> >> 

> >> 

> >>I know this is the most repulsive topic to

> conference on.  It may

> >>only draw

> >>a small number of people at first.  But the

> problem of torture is

> >>the most

> >>without Light aspect of the current spiritual

> condition of the

> >>human family. 

> >>It is the ugliest act of our species, and it is a

> furtive American

> >>crisis at

> >>home and abroad.  These negative features make it

> more urgent that

> >>it be

> >>examined. Friends9 history makes us a good group

> to begin that very

> >>hard

> >>work. 

> >> 

> >> 

> >> 

> >>Approaching great wounds with even the least

> amount of light will

> >>draw

> >>resistance and trouble.  An effective conference

> will involve very

> >>careful

> >>planning.  If its purpose and program are

> explained well, it may

> >>draw the

> >>widest possible audience, including experts from a

> wide range of

> >>fields. 

> >>Since taking in such information is a burden of

> some density, to

> >>avoid

> >>exhausting participants the schedule will keep to

> a measured,

> >>reflective

> >>pace.  The topic calls us to learn new ways to

> carry this realm of

> >>ideas,

> >>whose horror is well beyond the relative

> simplicities of hunger,

> >>homelessness, disease, and simple violence. 

> >> 

> >> 

> >> 

> >>As so many of you, I have neither the time nor

> energy to create

> >>such a

> >>conference. But I also know that I cannot turn

> away. There is much

> >>good that

> >>needs doing, and the work is mine, and ours.  Of

> course, it would

> >>be best if

> >>an established Friends group(s) created this. 

> >> 

> >> 

> >> 

> >>I ask 3 things of you-

> >> 

> >>1-  Please share this call to conference widely

> among Friends,

> >>Friends

> >>meetings and Friends organizations. This letter

> will be on my

> >>website

> >>www.johncalvi.com <http://www.johncalvi.com/> with

> future updates. 

> >> 

> >>2-  Please take this call to heart and hold the

> effort in the

> >>Light. 

> >> 

> >>3-  If there are talents, gifts, resources you or

> your organization

> >>have to

> >>help make this conference happen, please be in

> touch with me

> >>directly,

> >>e-mail is BEST calvij at sover.net. 

> >> 

> >>With many thanks,

> >> 

> >>John Calvi    calvij at sover.net    PO Box 301

> Putney VT 05346

> >>802/387-4789

> >> 

> 

>>**********************************************************************

>>**

> 

> >> 

> >> 

> >>Secrets, Torture - John Calvi 9/1/04

> >> 

> >> 

> >> 

> >>There are things we don9t talk about much,

> secrets, because they

> >>are

> >>difficult.  They are difficult because we don9t

> have ways of

> >>thinking about

> >>them.  We may not have ways to talk about them. 

> We don9t have much

> >>information on them. And, most importantly, they

> are ugly and

> >>scary.  Each

> >>culture has a list of these secrets.  The list

> changes as

> >>information

> >>escapes into conversation and ways of learning

> become possible

> >>around

> >>something previously obscure. In my own life time

> the list of

> >>American

> >>secrets has changed considerably so that what was

> unknowable and

> >>untalkable

> >>before has now become topics of study and common

> knowledge- such as

> >>cancer,

> >>homosexuality, lynching, post-traumatic stress

> disorder in

> >>soldiers, incest,

> >>addiction, rape, and the holocaust. 

> >> 

> >> 

> >> 

> >>A secret on this list moves slowly upward towards

> light as more

> >>people come

> >>to understand that something has parts and pieces

> and even logic

> >>and is not

> >>just a huge horror.  The above list is of the

> movers and shakers on

> >>this

> >>list as culture changes and progresses.  What is

> still on the

> >>bottom of this

> >>list is torture.  It is a great American secret

> still holding all

> >>the

> >>requisite conditions of huge and horrible, ugly

> and scary,

> >>unknowable from

> >>so little information available, and very present

> in all our

> >>generations and

> >>especially today. 

> >> 

> >> 

> >> 

> >>Like the car wreck we saw on the way home, we try

> not to see it

> >>again in our

> >>minds though each image lingers with some part of

> us wanting to

> >>understand

> >>it9s meaning in our lives.  The push to not see

> what is so ugly and

> >>the

> >>wonder to sort out what it is push against each

> other.  The battle

> >>is joined

> >>by American popular culture with it9s bias for

> bright shiny things

> >>for sale,

> >>fast and shallow content giving only glimpses, and

> above all the

> >>distracting

> >>noise of who9s winning something or is a danger.

> Thus, torture

> >>stays on the

> >>list of things we don9t see or know and therefore

> can9t change.  It

> >>will

> >>always be true that only a certain amount of

> people will choose to

> >>be with

> >>something as challenging as death or rape as works

> to be undertaken

> >>for the

> >>washing and healing of the culture and

> individuals. But the level

> >>of knowing

> >>why something is can include many more people who

> will just have to

> >>listen,

> >>think, and wonder a bit to learn what torture is

> and what it means

> >>for a

> >>society either as providers or receivers. 

> >> 

> >> 

> >> 

> >>The spiritual consequences of secrets are well

> known- sudden

> >>potholes in

> >>integrity, surprise areas where knowledge is

> lacking, the panic of

> >>cover-ups, and the confusing combination of the

> previous three to

> >>create a

> >>response for which there seems to be no logic. 

> Most obvious is the

> >>extraordinary effort to keep a secret hidden

> rather than open to

> >>wonder,

> >>wonder being the most basic posture of spiritual

> life. 

> >> 

> >> 

> >> 

> >>The spiritual consequences of torture are also

> quite specific. 

> >>Either you

> >>are moved to act against or you stifle and

> smolder.  For each of us

> >>who have

> >>paid for torture through our taxes, the dilemma is

> a strong

> >>cultural

> >>watershed.  We have the cultural myth of the

> independent force of

> >>the

> >>individual making change and doing good.  But

> often this myth meets

> >>with a

> >>fierce don9t-rock-the-boat mentality at home, at

> work, and in

> >>public spaces. 

> >>Choosing to act in any form has the light of

> integrity in being one

> >>with our

> >>deepest feelings of justice, always good for

> mental and spiritual

> >>health. It

> >>will also make for some disappointment,

> loneliness, and the need to

> >>explain

> >>yourself. 

> >> 

> >> 

> >> 

> >>The other choice of not acting is the more common

> response.  It9s

> >>common

> >>because life is already full, what might one do

> anyway, and aren9t

> >>I in

> >>enough trouble already.  These are the overt

> reasons to stuff and

> >>numb

> >>oneself.  The more quiet reasons are that it hurts

> to see and know

> >>what is. 

> >>It9s disturbing and we could let this one go by

> and forget. How

> >>much

> >>awareness do I need to keep up with anyway?  The

> monster is too big

> >>for me

> >>to address. Both acting and not acting are work

> that requires

> >>energy and

> >>effort.  Only one has a payoff. 

> >> 

> >> 

> >> 

> >>To have torture as part of the heritage we9ve

> provided the world in

> >>the last

> >>several years (think of the American wars in

> Southeast Asia and

> >>Central

> >>America), is to carry the loss of integrity, the

> ignorance, and

> >>panic of

> >>discovery in each of our hearts whether or not we

> approve of

> >>torture. 

> >>Torture has always been easy to justify but it9s

> never rested

> >>within the

> >>human awareness to be comfortably carried.  As a

> burden, it

> >>resembles the

> >>addicts stash or the unwashed bruise hidden under

> clothing- maybe

> >>known by

> >>others, unable to be laid down, and always a

> greater pain than is

> >>understood. 

> >> 

> >> 

> >> 

> >>To have our leadership participate, deny, spin,

> and wink over the

> >>use of

> >>torture in our current American wars abroad,

> lingers within us like

> >>glimpsing the car wreck, the neighbor9s or family

> member9s bruise,

> >>the

> >>addicts stash.  We can9t bear to know its scary

> ugliness and we

> >>can9t get it

> >>out of our minds.  There is no moral force in

> leadership to say

> >>what we all

> >>know - that torture injures all who know any

> aspect of it from any

> >>distance,

> >>that it shames all other good works done over

> hundreds of years,

> >>and that to

> >>do anything other than admit and stop is to

> participate.  This is

> >>how a list

> >>of secrets is kept as heritage and burdens our

> children. 

> >> 

> >>John Calvi www.johncalvi.com

> <http://www.johncalvi.com/>  PO Box

> >>301 Putney

> >>VT 05346 802/387-4789  calvij at sover.net

> <mailto:calvij at sover.net>

> >> 

> >>*************************************

> >> 

> >> 

> >>Is This American? 

> >> 

> >> 

> >>By Molly Ivins, AlterNet

> >>Posted on December 2, 2004

> >><http://www.alternet.org/story/20654/>

> >> 

> >>It is both peculiar and chilling to find oneself

> discussing the

> >>problem of

> >>American torture. I have considered support of

> basic human rights

> >>and

> >>dignity so much a part of our national identity

> that this feels as

> >>strange

> >>as though I'd suddenly become Chinese or found

> Fidel Castro in the

> >>refrigerator. 

> >> 

> >>One's first response to the report by the

> International Red Cross

> >>about

> >>torture at our prison at Guantanamo is denial. "I

> don't want to

> >>think about

> >>it; I don't want to hear about it; we're the good

> guys, they're the

> >>bad

> >>guys; shut up. And besides, they attacked us

> first." 

> >> 

> >>But our country has opposed torture since its

> founding. One of our

> >>founding

> >>principles is that cruel and unusual punishment is

> both illegal and

> >>wrong. 

> >>Every year, our State Department issues a report

> grading other

> >>countries on

> >>their support for or violations of human rights. 

> >> 

> >>The first requirement here is that we look at what

> we are doing -

> >>and not

> >>blink, not use euphemisms. Despite the Red Cross'

> polite language,

> >>this is

> >>not "tantamount to torture." It's torture. It is

> not "detainee

> >>abuse." It's

> >>torture. If they were doing it to you, you would

> know it was

> >>torture. It

> >>must be hidden away, because it's happening in

> Cuba or elsewhere

> >>abroad. 

> >> 

> >>Yes, it's true, we did sort of know this already.

> It was clear when

> >>the Abu

> >>Ghraib scandal broke in Iraq that the infection

> had come from

> >>Guantanamo. 

> >>The infamous memos by Alberto Gonzales, our next

> attorney general,

> >>and by

> >>John Ashcroft's "Justice" Department pretty well

> laid it out. 

> >> 

> >>In a way, Abu Ghraib, as bizarrely sadistic as it

> was, is easier to

> >>understand than this cold, relentless and

> apparently endless

> >>procedure at

> >>Gitmo. At least Abu Ghraib took place in the

> context of war. At

> >>Guantanamo,

> >>there is no threat to anyone - Americans are not

> being killed or

> >>hurt there. 

> >> 

> >>The Red Cross report says, "The construction of

> such a system,

> >>whose stated

> >>purpose is the production of intelligence, cannot

> be considered

> >>other than

> >>an intentional system of cruel, unusual and

> degrading treatment,

> >>and a form

> >>of torture." 

> >> 

> >>Our country, the one you and I are responsible

> for, has imprisoned

> >>these

> >>"illegal combatants" for three years now. What the

> hell else do we

> >>expect to

> >>get out of them? We don't even release their names

> or say what

> >>they're

> >>charged with - whether they're Taliban, al Qaeda

> or just some

> >>farmers who

> >>happened to get in the way (in Afghanistan,

> farmers and soldiers

> >>are apt to

> >>be the same). 

> >> 

> >>If this hasn't been established in three years,

> when will it be? 

> >>How long

> >>are they to be subjected to "humiliating acts,

> solitary

> >>confinement,

> >>temperature extremes, use of forced positions"? 

> >> 

> >>In the name of Jesus Christ Almighty, why are

> people representing

> >>our

> >>government, paid by us, writing filth on the

> Korans of helpless

> >>prisoners? 

> >>Is this American? Is it Christian? What are our

> moral values? Where

> >>are the

> >>clergymen on this? Speak out, speak up. 

> >> 

> >>The creepiest aspect of the Red Cross report is

> the involvement of

> >>doctors

> >>and psychiatrists in something called "biscuit"

> teams. Get used to

> >>that

> >>acronym: It stands for Behavioral Science

> Consultation Team and

> >>will end up

> >>in the same category of national shame as Wounded

> Knee. According

> >>to The New

> >>York Times, "biscuit" teams are "composed of

> psychologists and

> >>psychological

> >>workers who advise the interrogators." Shades of

> Dr. Mengele. 

> >> 

> >>An earlier Red Cross report questioned whether

> "psychological

> >>torture" was

> >>taking place. I guess that's what you call sleep

> deprivation and

> >>prolonged

> >>exposure to extremely loud noises while shackled

> to a chair. The

> >>beatings

> >>reported would not be psychological torture. I

> pass over the

> >>apparently

> >>abandoned practice of sexual taunting. The Red

> Cross also reports a

> >>far

> >>greater

> >>incidence of mental illness caused by stress. 

> >> 

> >>If you have neither the imagination nor the

> empathy to envision

> >>yourself in

> >>such circumstances, please consider why the senior

> commanders in

> >>the

> >>military are so horrified by this. It's very

> simple. Because, if we

> >>do this,

> >>if we break international law and the conventions

> of warfare, then

> >>the same

> >>thing can be done to American soldiers who are

> captured abroad. Any

> >>country

> >>can use exactly the same lame rationale about

> "enemy combatants" to

> >>torture

> >>American troops in any kind of conflict. Then we

> would protest to

> >>the Red

> >>Cross, of course. 

> >> 

> >>I suppose one could argue that we're fighting

> people who chop off

> >>the heads

> >>of their prisoners, so there. Since when have we

> taken up Abu

> >>al-Zarqawi as

> >>a role model? In the famous hypothetical example,

> you might

> >>consider torture

> >>justified if you had a terrorist who knew where a

> bomb was planted

> >>that was

> >>about to go off. But three years later? Some

> people have got to be

> >>held

> >>accountable for this, and that would include

> Congress. 

> >> 

> >>My question is: What are you going to do about

> this? It's your

> >>country, your

> >>money, your government. You own it, you run it,

> you are the board

> >>of

> >>directors. They are doing this in your name. The

> people we elect to

> >>public

> >>office do what you want them to. Perhaps you

> should get in touch

> >>with them. 

> >> 

> 

>>**********************************************************************

>>******

> 

> >>*******************

> >> 

> >> 

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