I can’t keep up with Andrew Sullivan, since he posts about 42 entries a day. (I’m not exaggerating!) But I just read the following email from one of his readers and I have to pass it on:
First they tortured in ticking time bomb cases but I didn't mind because it was a clear and imminent danger.
Second they tortured "slow-fuse" high value detainees and I didn't mind, because you never know what might happen.
Third they tortured Iraqi and Afghan prisoners who weren't high value, but who might have had useful information, and I didn't mind, because they were acting in good faith.
Fourth they tortured prisoners to establish a link between Al Qaeda and Saddam, and I didn't mind, because surely there must have been such a connection.
Finally, they came to torture me, and nobody cared, because if I was being tortured, I obviously deserved to be tortured, and, as Peggy Noonan says, some things are just mysterious and it's best to just keep on walking.
Once a teacher, always a teacher, so…in case you didn’t catch the references, here are some pointers.
- The entire quotation is an homage to Martin Niemöller’s famous text:
In Germany, they came first for the Communists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist;
And then they came for the trade unionists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist;
And then they came for the Jews, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew;
And then . . . they came for me . . . And by that time there was no one left to speak up.
- Charles Krauthammer is a right-wing pundit who consistently supports the use of torture. (OK, Krauthammer would object to my word “consistently,” but follow the link and judge for yourself.)
- Peggy Noonan is a commentator and former Reagan speechwriter from New Jersey and Boston, like many of us (I mean the New Jersey and Boston part, not the Reagan speechwriter part). The last sentence of the passage quoted above from the Andrew Sullivan blog refers to her remark about the torture memos: “Sometimes in life you just want to keep walking. Some of life has to be mysterious.”