Weekend in Tennessee. American Torture Morals

I flew to Tennessee for a whirlwind visit with my grand mother this weekend. It was fantastic. I got a wicked cheap flight, and the traveling went so smoothly (probably because I was traveling at non-traditional times, Saturday AM and Monday AM). It was really good to see Gramma. She’s one of the neatest people I know. She’s super crafty, and tough, and stubborn (in a good way). She can make anything, and if she can’t make it, she’ll figure it out. I told her about being interviewed for a book about crafting, and why I craft (I don’t get much of a feeling of accomplishment at work) and she said she likes to do things to figure them out. There’s the story about her weaving, where someone told her it would be impossible to weave a checkerboard pattern on the loom she was using, but she figured it out and that year gave us all little traveling checkerboards. And, she’s got so much wonderful great stuff. If I ever am concerned about how much stuff I have, well, as she said, it’s genetically inherited that I collect junk in case I need it later. I love going to her house, she’s got patterns from the 70’s (I scored a cool knit ascot pattern and a neat flyer on macramé bags!), boxes of fabrics (she’s been collecting them to make lap rugs for Meals-on-wheels recipients), and so much yarn and neat old stuff.

How I feel about my own belongings, well, that might be a longer and more stand-alone entry.

I’m concerned about the possible torture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. I saw a newspaper today with the headline “Tormented, but not Tortured.� But after reading this article from the Washington Post [I’ll revise with a link, I can’t find it now. I’ve asked my source…], with this paragraph down towards the bottom:

“U.S. authorities have an additional inducement to make Mr. Mohammed talk, even if he shares the suicidal commitment of the Sept. 11 hijackers: The Americans have access to two of his elementary-school-age children, the top law-enforcement official says. The children were captured in a September raid that netted one of Mr. Mohammed’s top comrades, Ramzi Binalshibhâ€?

…I’m not really sure what’s going to happen.

Why would we ever consider using children as leverage? Unless we’re hoping that the promise of being raised as an American is so terrible that he cracks, I can’t see how this “leverage� would mean anything except for torture. And I guess the NYPost article was right, if he’ll be tormented but not tortured, and his torment is knowing his children will be tortured.

OK, so he’s a bad man. So he might know things that will help stop terrorism. He probably knows the other people responsible for September 11th. But you know who tortures children in front of their parents? Saddam Hussein. And by suggesting we use these children as “leverage� implies we’re going to do the same thing that Saddam Hussein has done, you know, one of those things that gives Bush the moral imperative to invade Iraq. If we do this to Mohammed’s children, will our great buddy Tony Blair in Great Britain feel the moral imperative to invade us?

These are some of the things that I love about America (that people seem to walk over at will lately):

* Equal rights/Freedom for all (as long as they look just like me).

* Land of Opportunity (for me and my ancestors but no one new, because new = dangerous and costly).

* Due process of law (except for those people who oppose the government).

* Freedom of Speech (but not if it requires you to assemble in the streets of Manhattan below 59th Street).

I am feeling particularly cynical about the current state of affairs in America today. I love America. I consider myself a patriot (pre-patriot act, of course). I think we’ve got a great way of life here, and we have a fantastic society that can do a lot of good if it wants to. But slowly, slowly, we’re slipping into that gray area of too much power in the hands of a few. And it’s terrifying to me how quickly our most basic rights, the ones that America was founded on, are being yanked from us. It baffles me that the republican party, the one that insists the government has too large a hand in everyday American’s lives, is the source of these revisionist policies. And I don’t know how to stop it except to tell everyone I know, and to call my senators every single day.