David B.




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May 21, 2009

Bipartisan Gutlessness Sustains the Hell That is Guantanamo


Participating in American democracy, if it can be called that, is something like attending a play or movie. You are immediately conscious of your role as a spectator, rather than an active participant in the proceedings. And you are immediately forced to suspend your disbelief the moment you begin to focus your attention upon the scenario playing itself out on the stage before you.


You know going in that a lot of what you are about to witness will bear no resemblance whatsoever to real life, and you know that you are effectively powerless to affect the flow or outcome of events, no matter how insane they may be. You swallow hard and do your best to make believe that there is something – anything – that effectively separates the good guys from the bad. All too frequently, though, even this modest hope is mercilessly dashed. So it is with congressional Democrats’ refusal of funding for the closure of the U.S. concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay.


In a show of truly Republican paranoia, cowardice and NIMBYism, congressional Democratic leaders have voiced their concern that the Guantanamo hostages might be rehoused in mainland prisons, possibly in their own states, and that their presence within any given supermax facility might somehow pose a threat to the safety and security of the United States.




Backtrack a little bit: We now know for a fact that the vast majority of those incarcerated at Guantanamo had nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism or other nefarious deeds, having been fingered for U.S. arrest by various and sundry unscrupulous tribal leaders or local government officials eager to snag some of the $5,000-per-head reward money. We also know for a fact that in their eight years within the barbed-wire-ringed, thug-staffed hell that is Guantanamo, not one of these inmates has managed to mount even the most feeble acts of resistance – even a hunger strike was crushed by force.


But we are somehow expected to believe that a U.S. prison system that has successfully contained and constrained evildoers ranging from John Hinckley to Charles Manson can’t handle a few battered, tortured, decimated human beings who have been effectively ground beneath America’s bootheel for better than eight years?


Ah. Gotcha. Close Guantanamo, and suddenly an anonymous Afghan peasant will achieve superhuman powers: His superior strength will enable him to effortlessly blast his way through the walls of Leavenworth, even as guards’ bullets ricochet worthlessly off of his tungsten-hard torso. His heat vision will blast planes from the sky. Deadly waves of gamma wave radiation emanating from his fingertips will crispy-fry good citizens across the continent as they sleep in their beds. Through telekinesis, he will levitate the Capitol building, only to bring it crashing to Earth atop Newt Gingrich and Pat Robertson. Oh, the horror.


We’ve trusted our prisons – and our justice system – to successfully handle suspected serial killers, presidential assassins, mafia bosses, drug kingpins, sociopathic mall shooters and every manner of miscreant known to humankind, but suddenly they’ve met a challenge too great to face – the brazen gutlessness, deep-rooted racism and blind unreason of the American electorate who, confronted with the prospect of actually affording Muslims the same rights to humane treatment and due process that they treasure for themselves, find themselves overcome by quivering cowardice.


And in a rare show of bipartisanship, their Democratic congressional representatives join forces with their racist and xenophobic Republican brethren to cosset them, uniting the nation beneath common disgrace.


© 2009 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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