Dear Aunt Sophie,
I am a U.S. senator. I stepped in it recently when I read into the Congressional Record what an FBI man reported having seen at Guantanamo (how I hate it when they call that awful place Gitmo – they make it sound so benign).
You wouldn’t believe what this agent saw - a detainee chained hand and foot in fetal position on the floor in a room where the air conditioning had been set so that it was very cold! That must have been incredibly uncomfortable! And the same agent saw another man chained in a room with rock music blasting and with no air conditioning. No air conditioning! In the whole of human history no one has been able to stand that for very long. That’s why it was invented. And loud rock music - everybody knows that’s torture to anyone over the age of twenty-six. What have we become?
Well, when I said these abuses sounded like something the Nazis might have done, all hell broke loose. How could I dare compare Americans to Nazis? How could I, how could I? It should be obvious to anyone who is not a moral pygmy - since when does an American senator have to apologize for trying to protect helpless people?
But no one wanted to hear the truth and the right wing attack dogs finally forced me to issue a statement to “clarify” the obvious. I said I supposed historical parallels could be misused and misunderstood and I sincerely regretted it if what I said caused anyone to misunderstand my true feelings, our soldiers deserve our respect, admiration and total support, blah, blah, blah.
You’d think that would have been enough to please them, but nothing ever is. They wanted me to grovel and to my shame I finally did. I issued a full-blown apology and I even managed a few tears.
But I feel terrible about it. What I said pretty much neutralized my original statement, which I still think is completely apt. We are torturing people at Guantanamo. And you know how I know? This isn’t rocket science - they said they got information from one of the poor devils. If they’d been treating him the way they’re supposed to, they wouldn’t have gotten anything out of him. The fact that he broke proves we tortured him. So how can we say we’re not torturing people there? And if we are, then we’re just like Nazis. And they wanted me to apologize?
How can I look myself in the eye after caving in this way? I hope you aren’t so morally feeble that you don’t get it either.
People never cease to amaze. Of course anyone not wearing blinders can see the dead-on accuracy of your statement.
Everyone knows the Nazi death camps were established to house Jews who had been engaged in armed conflict with the Germans following an attack on the Reichstag and several large office buildings by means of commercial airliners commandeered for that purpose. Not only were those responsible for the plot interned, but as a thoughtful gesture, so were their wives, children, parents, their extended families and their friends and their friends’ extended families and their friends – in other words, the whole mishpucha.
Upon arrival at camp each detainee received brand new clothes and a copy of the Torah, provided at public expense (it’s a wonder German taxpayers stood still for this). Families were thoughtfully split along male-female lines so that worship services could easily be conducted at any time of the day or night. Likewise, the camp director saw to it that there were always sufficient males in one room so that even if some were resting or had died peacefully in their sleep there would never be too few for a minyan.
Kosher food was in plentiful supply, with particular attention paid to nutritional balance. They exercised for most of each day, in fact, from before sunup to after sundown. When not exercising, eating gourmet meals or sleeping on their cushy mats (taxpayer-provided again), they were sometimes asked to provide entertainment for their guards, which often consisted of playing Smother-Your-Mother, Test-the-Toxin or Cower-in-the-Crematory. Winners were rewarded with a luxurious shower, a prize no one refused. And anyone who needed medical care got it free, courtesy of Dr. Mengele who donated his time.
In other words, it was identical to Gitmo and, like you, I don’t see how anyone can not grasp that fact.
You should never have apologized. You should have stuck to your guns, oops, convictions and, in fact, you should be repeating your initial statement to as many people as will listen. Only in that way will ordinary folks ever fully appreciate the extent of your moral sensibility.
And anyway, apologizing never brought anyone back.
Good luck and God bless.