A Small Evil | Waterboarding | Torture

A Small Evil

It is a very difficult thing to stop an insider takeover of a government. It is even harder, however, to UNDO an insider takeover – or any other kind – once it is accomplished. In both instances, the conspirators have control of the machinery of government, and there are always those unquestioning ‘patriots’ who believe the lies, the propaganda, and will inform the authorities of any who question. In both cases, the one who calls for ‘alarums and excursions’ is labeled the traitor, and ends up having to fight the innocent ‘patriots’ who think they’re defending their country. The trick of such a takeover is to convince as many groups as possible into believing that their interests and those of the usurpers are the same; the truth is seldom seen until too late, when the followers suddenly find that they themselves are lumped in with all the others. By then, they wear the same chains as all the others. Someone always gets hurt, and not just the “bad guys”; usually it’s everyone, though the weak, the old, the very young, the poor and disabled may be especially vulnerable. This is the price of not thinking, not observing, not knowing and not insisting on ALL of one’s own rights and those of other people with the same fervor, the same vehemence. A democracy begins with knowing that “I” have rights and what they are, and continues with knowing that in order to protect ‘my’ rights, it is indispensable for me to protect the rights of everyone, and to act on that knowledge even in the case of the smallest attempted infraction. Wise conspirators take small steps over much time, making the changes hard to see. This is why, however boring, eternal vigilance really IS the price of Freedom: What we are told is a small evil, just temporary, “just for the duration of the Emergency,” is “necessary in order to protect our Freedoms,” adds up over time to many, and soon a great many ‘small evils’, and grows to a very great Evil – the loss of all liberties. The ‘duration’ turns out to last longer and longer, until nobody asks anymore because they’ve gotten used to it, and ‘temporary’ becomes forever. There is no such thing as a ‘small Evil’; there is no such thing. A thing is Evil or it is not, and we cannot build a Good, we cannot build anything lasting, if it’s built upon Evil of any degree. This is why I say that there is no such thing as a “small evil”: each one is part and parcel of all the rest, and even that separation is an illusion. Let one in the door, so to speak, and you open that door to all of it. It’s like the camel’s nose in the Arab proverb: “If you let the camel’s nose in the tent, it is soon followed by the rest of the camel.” Just because you can’t see the whole thing all at once, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t there, that it doesn’t exist, or that you won’t find it taking over everything. It’s there, it’s real, and if you allow the smallest increment “out of necessity” to pass without comment, you quickly reach a point where control has passed from your hands. Closing your eyes does not make it go away, and trusting the words of a liar or a fool doesn’t protect

you, because there is no one to complain to who can fix it once that point is reached: you allowed it, and it falls to you to fix it, or no one will. One way to tell Evil from Good is to put yourself in the place of the victim, because the victim of Evil never sees it as a ‘small Evil’; it’s just plain Evil. Like torture, for instance. Imagine yourself snatched off the street by your own government, (or more likely by you-know-not-whom), taken you know not where, and tortured. You are accused of something you KNOW you had nothing to do with, but some smallsouled, angry, power-hungry individual somewhere sees a threat in you. You are beaten until you’re barely conscious and bleeding, you are forced to stand naked and filthy in front of strangers of both sexes and your anus is invaded with something that hurts and also makes you bleed; pictures are taken. You lose control of bladder and bowels while tied to a chair in a light that never goes out, in sound that hurts, and the people around you laugh. You are strapped to a board, your sight taken, and made to feel as though you are drowning. Now, you remember stories of people who died this way, and you wonder if you will be one of them. When all they ask is for you to sign a confession you realize that they don’t care whether you’re guilty or not! All they care about is getting a confession, and maybe the names of other people they can snatch up and torture. You realize that torture gains no real information – it is just a way of controlling people with terror, nothing less. You have been allowed to contact no one. Your job is gone, and maybe your home; your family only knows you are gone, and perhaps they have to go through any savings you had just to survive. You don’t know; you are told nothing. The government denies any responsibility for or knowledge of you. Your representative, if you have been allowed one, really represents your torturers. You remember the discussions with politicians arguing whether waterboarding was torture or not. Now you know that waterboarding is torture and nothing else: you drown! It is no simulation of anything. Every time, over and over, you really, truly drown, and they take you right to the edge of death! As the beatings, the humiliations, the electrical shocks, the ‘stress positions’ (God, what a mealy-mouthed phrase! It’s induced agony for no reason and nothing less, nothing else), as it all continues without let, because solitary confinement in a place where rest cannot be had, where the ‘food and water’ make you ill, where no one speaks to you except in anger, to demand information you do not have, it comes to you that it’s all torture The other citizens out there in The World don’t know this, though. They think it’s a ‘small Evil’, necessary in order to protect them, to protect the country, and the media never allows them to hear of any it. Still, people being people, some small bits of information do get out, maybe not about you specifically, but about what’s happening. You remember hearing about it yourself, always labeled ‘tinfoil hatwearing, liberal conspiracy theories’ as such information is called, and almost no

one believes it aside from the crazies. Besides, they think (and you know what they think, because you were one of them, once) that a ‘small evil’ in the name of defending all they hold dear is tolerable. It doesn’t seem so small from the viewpoint of a waterboard, though. It sounded so harmless, there at home on the computer – obviously written by crazies; people only think they’re drowning. Maybe then you remember that the Nuremberg trials called it torture. And incidentally, the victims of waterboarding are drowning. Words that minimalize are used, and people just don’t think about it. They’re much too busy with other ‘small evils’, trying to keep their families fed, their children educated, a roof over their heads. As the saying goes, a hungry man is no philosopher, and much of the country is country for something: food, job security, housing – something. It’s just too distracting to think of someone they don’t even know being abused someplace where he or she can’t be seen. They may wonder why times are so hard, why husband and wife must work full time, their benefits in danger, maybe even the jobs in danger, and then they have to listen to the leaders say what a great economy it is and how well it’s doing. Most think they just happen to have jobs in areas where there’s a problem, but the leaders say the rest of the country is doing well. It’s just their bad luck, they think. They have no time for conspiracy theories. If they just change jobs – thought they’re very hard to find right now – if they just do something different, maybe win the lottery, maybe just get lucky some other way, then they might get to be one of those who have total security because they have the resources that would take care of a hundred, of tens of thousands of families, all for themselves and their loved ones. They never consider that such people are taking up such resources because those hundreds or thousands of families are robbed of them. After all, this is America, where we’re all Free, and we all have a chance to become rich, pampered, with all the world open to us – or at least well off. Those savages (that’s what our leaders say they are, sometimes in so many words, sometimes not) who are selfishly keeping the oil and other things we need from us are to blame. They are terrorists worshipping a strange God whose priests (they even have a strange word for that – it sounds like baby talk, this word ‘imam’) tell them to come here and kill; they are to blame. If we just work hard enough, trust our leaders and be patient, it will all come together. They’ll take care of us. Stolen elections? Not here, not in our country. That kind of thing only happens in Third World countries, as does torture. If some of the innocent savages die, well, as our leaders say, it’s unavoidable ‘collateral damage’; it can’t be helped. We have to defend ourselves first, don’t we? And if a few mistakes are made and innocents suffer, that’s only human; we’re only human. Our leaders say, too, that we have to silence traitors who protest, who put the government down, who spread these vicious lies about what’s happening – it all only hurts our cause. It hurts our image in the world, reduces our credibility. Freedom of Speech can’t include that. People like that deserve whatever they get. We have to support our leadership, even when they make mistakes.

Anyone can make mistakes. We’re at war, even if the Congress never actually declared war, there’s no doubt that we’re at war, and in war, people get hurt, people die. They’re protecting not just us, but our entire Way of Life. So really, it’s all the best we can do in difficult circumstances. We can’t listen to the crazy people with all their conspiracy theories, and even if some of what they say is true, like torture, it’s necessary. The experts agree, according to our legally elected leaders, and they should know. It’s a small Evil compared to what could happen, only a small Evil. Right? Right? Ian MacLeod Veteran, disabled December 7th, 2006 Oregon

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