“My Country” vs. Our World
By Dennis Loo (1/19/14)
Update at end. This post was delayed for two days due to technical problems with displaying tweets properly.
There’s a little bit of a twitter war going on today (1/19/14), sparked by one of my tweets yesterday.
Twitter war might be too strong a term. Call it a twitter fracas.
Someone named Montgomery Granger and his friends have been tweeting furiously back. None of my so-very-patriotic critics show any evidence that they've actually read the article that my tweet is announcing. If they have read beyond the article's title and basic description, they haven't tried to engage the facts and line of reasoning in it whatsoever. That is the way, by the way, that adjudicating differences between people in pursuit of the truth should be carried out: take what the other person's actually saying and respond to it. In fact, take the best expression of what they're saying because if you are interested in the truth as opposed to just winning the argument, then you owe it to the truth to take the best that the other person's putting forward, because there's always the possibility that they might have something true to say and that you can learn from it.
Since my twitter critics today haven't bothered to engage my actual article, let me do take the next available option and engage their tweets' substance.
Here's Granger, for example, convinced that I'm an "Islamist apologist," reacting to my point - that his claims that these detainees are all guilty of war crimes can't be supported unless the detainees are actually charged, let alone tried and convicted. (Note: To determine whether someone should be subject to detention, they have a right (habeas corpus) to ask that the government that's holding them provide reasons before a judge why the prisoner should be held. Otherwise, they should be let go and not detained for years on end or decades, as is the case for many of them, without being even charged):
So how does Granger know that these "unlawful combatants BROKE Law of War" if they've never been charged?
Because military authorities told him so by imprisoning these individuals in the first place? Because that's why the Bush Regime chose GTMO in the first place? At GTMO the USG would have the best opportunity to make certain that it was only holding the "worst of the worst," right? Locating the prison in the US itself would not be as conducive to only holding those for whom you had sufficient evidence until they could be tried. That's why the US government chose GTMO because they thought the detainees would be more likely to be treated properly as detainees there than in the US itself, right?
Or perhaps Granger KNOWS that these prisoners "BROKE Law of War" because his president told him so?
As I point out in the article that Granger hasn't apparently read, Obama asserts that everyone taken to GTMO is a "terrorist" even though he refuses to allow any of them their habeas corpus rights so that the government may show at least the semblance of evidence that there might be enough pointing to the basis for them to stand trial.
In his May 2013 speech about GTMO, Obama stated:
"GTMO has become a symbol around the world for an America that flouts the rule of law."
Look, however, at the very next sentence in this speech:
"Our allies won’t cooperate with us if they think a terrorist will end up at GTMO."
This sentence and the one preceding it are an example of having your cake and eating it too. Obama says that GTMO is a bad symbol because it shows the world that the US flouts the rule of law thereby showing what a respecter of the rule of law he is, then in the very next sentence he does exactly what he was criticizing, flouts the law, by declaring definitively that those sent to GTMO are “terrorists.” How do you know they’re terrorists Mr. President? Because you’ve paid millions in bounty payments for those turned in as alleged “terrorists?” How do you know they’re terrorists if they’re been denied a habeas corpus hearing to have any evidence that alleges such is produced before a judge?
To our true blue Americans, guilt by virtue of accusation alone is sufficient. They must be fans of Lewis Carroll's Red Queen's famous declaration: "Sentence first - verdict afterwards."
As I wrote in a Counterpunch article after the 2008 Republican National Convention when peaceful anti-RNC protesters were arrested before they even had a chance to demonstrate and absurdly and fascistically charged with being "domestic terrorists" - a pre-emptive suppression of free speech and assembly:
Of what significance can a person’s right to see the charges leveled against them be when there’s a war on terrorists to be waged? What need do people accused of crimes have to see who has accused them – are they not guilty by virtue of being accused? What end is fulfilled to allow the accused to cross-examine their accusers? Why waste the court’s time with such absurdities? What purpose does it serve to have perfectly good evidence ruled inadmissible, so what if it was extracted employing electric shock and waterboarding? These people are guilty, guilty, guilty! Why just look at them: do they not look guilty? What more evidence do we need? 9/11! 9/11! 9/11! We must wring the truth out of them, whatever it takes, the preservation of freedom demands it!
These fulminations by those who wrap themselves in the flag so tightly that their brains are starved for oxygen actually stem not mainly from their lack of intelligence but mainly from the character of neoliberalism's public order policies that treat everyone as a suspect and criminalize whole categories of people and forms of behavior. You no longer have to do anything suspicious to be treated as a potential or actual criminal. This is the underpinning, for example, for authorities' destruction of the Fourth Amendment's prohibitions against warrantless searches and the requirements of probable cause. These impassioned patriots are merely parroting the lines that authorities have been feeding everyone.
Here's another tweet, from a Tim Sumner, who makes sure that no one misunderstands his stance by posing in front of an American flag. Sumner's tweet bio says this: "Co-founder of 9/11 Families for a Safe & Strong America. US Army ret. Co-host of Freedom Radio. In the War on Terror, there is no place to run from here."
This one had me nearly on the floor with laughter. "Our Constitution and common sense says no due process." But of course "Our Constitution" doesn't guarantee due process. It says something else. Not sure what. Perhaps he's referring to the 3/5 of a person part about slaves, or the exclusion of women from being recognized as entitled to a vote? If so, then the man might have a point!
So this is what I said in response:
Mr. Sumner’s stand on this – that rights are only for Americans and not for anyone else – is the very essence of reactionary reasoning. In contrast to his deceitful reasoning, rights are not really rights if they’re reserved for only some and not for everyone. “We’re Americans and we’re better than non-Americans because we treasure liberty and freedom. We’re not tyrants like those other people. When we detain people we do it better and we don’t have to treat people according to the Geneva Conventions because THEY broke the law and THEY cut off people’s heads and we’re magnanimous. We’re the good guys, you see, and the good guys don’t have to treat everyone the same."
The point is apparently lost on Mr. Granger that it's the VERY FACT of detention without any right to challenge their detention that is at issue here. As for the alleged “we’re the good guys,” anyone watching Yasiin Bey’s attempt to go through the force-feedings that Obama has ordered used on the hunger strikers, can’t help but recognize what a lie Granger is perpetrating. Moreover, as I pointed out to him early on, 86% of GTMO detainees were turned in for millions of dollars in bounty and only 5% were even actually captured on the battlefield by US troops:
But they would have none of this. Here’s how they responded:
This line of reasoning, if you can even call it reasoning since it sounds more like a child’s ravings when he’s losing an argument and he casts about every possible way to try to wiggle out of the predictment of being obviously wrong, is the stuff of fascism. Their attitude, plain to see, is that Muslims like those at GTMO “are an enemy by virtue of our designating them an enemy and that means that they’re not entitled to being treated according to international laws and due process.” The circularity of their reasoning doesn't phase our brave patriots who will dare to tread where reason refuses to go.
It’s very simple in this respect to distinguish between fascists and those who consistently honor and respect the indispensably core principles of justice and fairness: which ones are willing and eager to suspend due process because the ones they’re suspending it for “a really bad guys?” As Sinclair Lewis put it in 1935: “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a bible.”
Sumner's tweet is a response to my post "Universal Rights = Leftwing Propaganda?" According to Sumner, "universal rights" are not the same as and are inferior to "inalienable rights." Inalienable means that they may not and should not be deprived from people. But apparently, it IS alienable to aliens like Muslims and others determined by bounty payments:
Paying out millions for bounty accounting for 86% of those detained at GTMO. That for sure PROVES that these are not goatherders but terrorists! We don't even need to charge them to know this. We KNOW IT. So THIS is what Mr. Granger means by his authoring "Saving Grace at Guantanamo Bay," the first line on his Twitter bio.
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