Hi everyone. Assuming anyone is still out there. I apologize for not writing lately. We just returned from a music festival in Arkansas where we had a fabulous time with amazing friends. To be fair, we also dealt with ridiculous porta potties, mud and an unbelievable amount of stoned hippies. But we heard some amazing music (HoneyHoney, Rose's Pawn Shop, The Gourds, Sam Bush, Brown Bird) and further realized how many amazing people we have in our circle. Our new friend Misti wrote about it here, and I am not sure I can come close to her great description of the magic that happened in the Arkansas mountains.
But back to the real world we came. This election cycle has been an amazing assault on my belief in humanity. I honestly didn't think that was possible after watching people of faith defend and support torture. I seriously didn't. I thought that was the bottom.
This time, I have spoken to more conservative evangelicals who still defend torture, or at the very best, had to be walked through it. You know the drill. "Sure, torture is bad, but you have to remember, it was a scary time and these are some bad people who behead people." Blah blah blah. One guy from my college BSU who now runs it told me just last month that he still wanted to see Obama's birth certificate. I told him it had been released. Twice.
I have yet to hear back from him. I am hoping some of that is shame, but I kind of doubt it. The same guy told me that Romney (and this guy is, remember, a minister) was absolutely right about the bottom half not working hard enough and being dependent on government. I sent him stats that showed that to be wrong, and heard nothing back.
I now believe that most of these people of faith are so tribally Republican that they have no idea. They honestly can't tell where the Bible ends and the GOP platform starts. They have no idea that the Bible says nothing about abortion or capitalism, and completely ignore any of it that challenges wealth, greed, or, goddamnit, justice.
Speaking of torture, I read this today (Death row inmate walks free due to DNA evidence | The Raw Story) and am just reminded that most of these same people know that our death penalty system is deeply flawed. Or they would if they thought about it. They distrust government when it comes to feeding the poor, but have no problem with that same government killing people for them. Or torturing them. Or, they simply don't give a shit.
I am reading a story in MoJo (not online yet) on the growing use of solitary confinement in our prisons for the most specious of reasons. We are placing people in solitary (the prisons don't call it that, btw) for years. Fucking years. The UN's people who study torture suggest that more than 15 days in solitary should be considered torture. That kind of solitude messes with people's brains and internal systems. The writer was in solitary in Iran as a political prisoner for 26 months, so he had an idea of how this worked.
But in our prison system, he notes, it is actually worse than fucking Iran. One prisoner was in solitary for 42 YEARS and many have been in for more than 20. 20 years in solitary? The guards in Iran told the author the very same justification for solitary that he heard in Pelican Bay.
I am really glad to see this story get some investigation, and hope that more than progressives read about this but one of the things I have learned over the last decade is that Americans--especially those who talk about morality the most--simply don't care if we are torturing people. Not people accused vaguely of terrorism, or in the wrong place at the wrong time. And certainly not people in our massive prison system.
For a former Baptist to realize that so many conservative, bible-reading, Church going, Christian-talking people don't care about anyone who is not in their own circle or tribe--that is something I still can't quite grasp.