Consistency, I am day by day more convinced, is a rarity in our relativistic culture. This inability to integrate ideas into a consistent worldview is no doubt the product of our postmodern age. The most bothersome leaps into relativism to myself are those made by people who should know better, namely Christians.
Not a few times in discussing matters with Christians have I seen this leap into relativism, with a waterfall of "Well I feel..." and "Who are you to say..." or "You have no right to judge (X)..." or "The Bible says judge not..." These phrases are products of the relativistic culture, not a Christian worldview.
One thing a good Christian worldview will be is consistent. If something is immoral, it remains immoral regardless of the actor. I have been commenting a good deal lately about the Christian and the State, as I think this is one of the most compromised areas the Church in America has in its thinking.
That being the case, I firmly believe that the issue of torture is the moral issue of our day, and sadly the church is not being the church.
Christ has called us to "Love our enemies", applying this command to the issue of torture no doubt causes many Christians to roll their eyes and snort in disgust. My question then is simply this, when DO we apply Christ's command? I honestly don't think many in the church take these things seriously, and tend to view "enemies" as people like homosexuals (who have been the brunt of some of the most obnoxious behaviour from Christians).
To show that I am not arguing against phantoms, but that in reality Christians have not only failed to speak out against torture but actually endorse it, I refer the reader to an email I received today from the Christian Law group the ACLJ (American Center for Law and Justice). The ACLJ is a christian lawyer group established to be a counter to the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) and stand up for the 1st amendment of Christians. This is a laudable occupation.
However, most of the emails I receive from the ACLJ are of the neo-conservative Zionist variety, I received one a little while back giving an apologetic for attacking Iran. The email I received today was titled, "No Special Rights For Terrorists!"
Immediately, just from the title I knew it was an apologetic for torture and indefinate trial-less detention. What are "special rights" anyway? What they really mean is, NO RIGHTS FOR TERRORISTS. The reason they didn't just say that is that such a statement is so obviously immoral. So, they have to play with the terms a bit, now giving a man a trial is something special, unusual, innovative, foreign, pick your synonym.
The body of the email clears up any ambiguity, it begins:
Imagine you caught Osama bin Laden in Pakistan or Afghanistan - what would you do?
Handle him with kid gloves?
Give him the right to remain silent?
Make sure he has a lawyer ... or buy one for him?"
These guys are supposed to be Christian lawyers, and they use a phrase like "Give him the right..." rights are not given, they are recognized. This notion that our rights come from the state is historically the most deadly philosophy on human rights. That is the position that EVERY authoritarian government had on human rights, rights are given to the individual by the generosity and beneficence of the state. It is this position that leads directly to the Gulag and Concentration camp, because if the government "gives" rights to individuals, then it can take them away.
The Christian perspective is that our rights come from God, every man has rights because every man is made in the image of God. The 10 commandments (Exodus 20, Deut 5) are a good picture of some of these rights, a right to life (6th commandment), a right to property (8th and 10th), and a right to an honest trial (9th commandment). Our rights are inherent, we have God given rights, the government's job is to recognize these rights, they don't "give" them.
Christians should be the first to say this, and that is what makes this email from the ACLJ so despicable.
So to answer the questions in the email, yes, he should get a lawyer and yes he does have a right to be silent. Furthermore, I don't find it at all humorous to throw jokes into this matter as they did. The email continues:
"This is how civilian courts handle common criminals all the time. But it's not how we handle enemy combatants taking up arms against America in wartime!
It's incredible - but President Obama has ordered his Attorney General to release the mastermind of the 9/11 massacre, the Christmas bomber, and other terrorists from military tribunals ..."
Given the Bush Cheney "Military Commissions Act" individuals that the State arbitrarily labels "enemy combatants" have no rights, they are un-persons. Therefore, they can be held indefinitely without trial and tortured. The ACLJ now acts like this is normal. Furthermore, UNTIL Khalid Sheik Muhammad has a trial he is the ACCUSED mastermind of 9/11, again this is another perversion of justiceon the ACLJ's part. I, as a side note, also highly doubt KSM was the mastermind of 9/11.
Again, it is supposed to be seen as abnormal to try "terrorists" in a court rather than a tribunal. Well, that's what we did with the 1993 WTC bombers, that's what we did with Tim McVeigh in the OKC bomb, why can't we do the same thing here? Again, they want us to think this is something strange and out of step with the norm.
On another side note, I wonder how many "massacres" the ACLJ would say occurred by the hands of the US government? It's only a massacre when its against our team...just like fans of the home sports team always boo when a penalty is called on their team no matter how warranted. Just look at the titles given to the conflicts between the US government and the plains Indians. Every time the US was defeated by the Indians it was a massacre, when unarmed Indians were butchered it was a battle. The same mentality continues on today.
The bellicose screed continues:
"... bring them to U.S. soil - and give these terrorists the most effective platform they've ever had to spew their venom, recruit new jihadists, and try to humiliate America."
So here they throw a little fear in to scare you, somehow by giving them a trial will lead to more jihadists. I am failing to connect the dots in this logic...seems a little specious. We're supposed to assume these guys are like the Greek sirens drawing men to themselves hypnotically by their presence and radicalizing them.
I assure I have left nothing out of this email, this next part is somehow connected with the rest:
"And that's not the only troubling security threat facing America today - there are serious reports that Iran has begun enriching uranium to levels capable of making an atomic bomb.
It's time for President Obama and the United Nations to respond accordingly: Impose crippling sanctions - and then ensure that those sanctions are clearly enforced."
There are so many things wrong here it is staggering. Firstly, there already are sanctions on Iran. Secondly, sanctions only hurt the people and unite them against the outside aggressors. Thirdly, sanctions are an act of war, just think how we would react if a bunch of countries got together and enforced a naval blockade keeping us from importing and exporting goods.
Also, I thought these guys were "right" wing? Now they want the UN to act aggressively against the main country the Zionists hate. Whatever happened to the get out of the UN talk?
The email concludes:
"Please give an immediate, generous online donation today. Empower our legal research and legislative efforts as we continue to apply pressure in Congress and the White House and at the United Nations on these crucial national security issues.
For the sake of our nation, I thank you in advance."
So all of this authoritarian jingoism is supposed to get my heart thumping with desire to give to the ACLJ, "For the sake of the nation." how disgusting. I read this email and I realized afresh that many of the Christians in the United States would behave no different from the Christians in 1930's Germany. I honestly believe that. I believe that because we are seeing a similar thing take place here in the US rife with human rights violations.
In my latest podcast I cover Glenn Beck's call to "Shoot him in the head!" in reference to the #2 in the Taliban being caught. He unambiguously argues that we need to shoot him in the head right now because if we don't he might get a trial. Obviously that would be disastrous in Beck's mind. Again, if righteousness is on our side why do we fear the courts?
All of this is despicable, and the worst part of all is the question that nags me, "WHERE IS THE CHURCH?" The church has failed to speak out sufficiently against these atrocities, and just like the Church in Germany in the 1930's the American church also has become a lackey to the authoritarian regime. That last sentence should be obvious with emails like I get from the ACLJ.
Rather than standing on the truth, standing for justice, and standing up for man's God given rights, the Church by and large has made a relativistic leap and agreed with the regime saying "Some people have rights, others don't."
Thus, the church has become an accomplice to the very evils it has failed to oppose.