Do not be afraid

I’ve had a few conversations about this very topic where I’ve been laughed out of the room. The reason being is that I totally agree with Bob Wright here. If we are holding “enemy combatants” but cannot convict them for whatever reason, we must stay true to the values on which we’ve built this democracy and release them. Indefinitely holding an individual for any reason without due process is a total rejection of our core values. This is the cost of living in a free society where we are all innocent until proven guilty. I understand that politically, this is an almost impossible issue. But we must not be cowards. We are over-estimating the threat to the point where we unflinchingly ditch values that make up the foundation of our society.

I’ll stop here. Bob Wright articulates my view better than I can so I’ll just leave at that.

If you disagree, let me know.

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4 thoughts on “Do not be afraid

  1. Well put, Zach. I’m glad that you (unlike some other Obama-supporters) are staying true to the values and disagreeing with the president on this topic. This whole thing by Obama threw me off guard: we might as well just keep gitmo open if we are going to continue the same policy.

  2. I tend to go to the right on a lot of the security issues because I think as we did in WW2, you can forgive a nation for going too far to keep its people safe for a limited amount of time, but people will not forgive its government for choosing high minded principals over their lives.

    That said…there comes a time where those ‘over-reactions’ need to be scaled back, and we can’t hold people with out cause for life. At some point we need trials.

    Still, I wouldn’t want to be the person who released a future bomber back into the public, and I think Obama knows that if that gets tied around the neck of the democrats, they will never over come the ‘security issue’.

  3. I do see your point, Keith.
    I guess I am also (or more) worried about the wording in the speech, and what that means for not just foreign, middle eastern, “terrorists,” but also for American Citizens whom the government may deem a possible danger.

  4. I think this is a hideously difficult situation. I also think that dude on the right is horrible in this exchange, which makes your argument look much stronger!

    The counter point to your sound and reasoned argument is that do you want to be the one explaining the greater good to the family of an innocent that may be killed by something orchestrated by one of these released fanatics? Of course you don’t.

    But I pretty much agree with you and left dude. If people are imprisoned illegally then you justify the cause of those who see you as an oppressor, this leads to increased acrimony and thus more fanatic recruitment (or at least makes some strides towards legitimising fanaticism). The value judgement is what is more damaging -releasing an evil nut case, or compromising values that set you apart from evil nut cases? And I (we) would argue the former.

    Left dude also makes the point that killing terrorists isn’t necessarily productive either, although he merely states that it is easy to replace them, I think he didn’t state the bigger concern that it somewhat glamourises them too. Their cause looks more noble to the hopeless and angry, which thereby can encourage more recruitment. You imprison them (with due process) all of a sudden it looks pretty dull.

    The best (and perhaps impossible in this case) solution is to try and engage these people in some form of discourse. Case in point the IRA and Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland. As much as they don’t like to talk about it, Martin McGuiness and (pretty much certainly) Gerry Adams were IRA terrorists, but now they have been engaged and allowed to express their views openly they have moderated and have some sway over their angry, once disenfranchised republican community. Although they were treated way better by the UK government than KSM has been by the US and their political point, although ludicrously unworthy of violence, was far more reasonable than that of KSM.

    Most “terrorists” are like any xenophobic angry people – ignorant and poorly educated, with a limited world experience and limited world view (apparently the Taleban in Pakistan are now using 12 and 13 year olds to do their suicide bombings). If you offer the imprisoned thinkers behind the violence a chance to enter discourse can you show why they’re hate is wrong and somehow reach some non-violent, if still acrimonious, partial solution? A la Northern Ireland. I dunno, but I’d love to see some efforts to that end.

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