"Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it"
One of the lessons I have had to learn as a teacher is that I don't teach my students anything.
I am a firm believer in the pedagogical theories of both Dewey and Friere.
We learn by doing and we learn by doing whatever it is we are trying to learn by doing it with others.
Action and collaboration.
As a teacher, I correct students.
They are wrong sometimes. Plain and simple.
I tell them it's nothing personal.
I kind of feel this way about our President.
I knew a lot about him before I worked on his campaign having grown up watching his career from just over the border in northwest Indiana. I knew who I was voting for on November 4, 2008: a moderate Democrat with a good head on his shoulders-- a DC outsider that had the will and the energy to instigate the changes our country so desperately needed.
However, I cannot sit idly by while certain policies and practices by our government leave us standing in the same pile of manure we were standing in November 3, 2008.
Power reiterates institutions and institutions reiterate power (Foucault).
Institutionalizing torture was wrong when Bush and cronies did it and it is still wrong as President Obama fails to take a different course of action.
Being president has one characteristic that no other job does: you get hired to do a job (during a first term) that you have had no prior experience doing. The only ones with any experience are the ones who get rehired for a second term. Sometimes they have learned from their first terms, sometimes not.
I think President Obama's learning curve will be a strong one-- he seems to pick things up quickly and plays well with others.
But we *never learn to do something right* if no one corrects us when we are wrong.
We never learn to do something socially if we don't learn from other's mistakes.
And President Obama is wrong in guaranteeing no prosecutions for those who "legalized" the United States' "interrogation program," a sick euphemism for:
- Pushing detainees against a wall
- Facial slaps
- Cramped confinement
- Having prisoners stand or sit for long periods of time in "stress" positions
- Sleep deprivation
- Waterboarding or simulated drowning
- Playing loud music for hours
- The placing of a detainee into a confined space with an insect or an unfriendly dog
The types of torture used there were no better than those listed above:
- Urinating on detainees
- Jumping on detainee's leg (a limb already wounded by gunfire) with such force that it could not thereafter heal properly
- Continuing by pounding detainee's wounded leg with collapsible metal baton
- Pouring phosphoric acid on detainees
- Sodomy of detainees with a baton
- Tying ropes to the detainees' legs or penises and dragging them across the floor.
- Sexual abuse of a 16-year-old girl by two interrogators
- Having venomous snakes bite prisoners
- Hooded prisoners forced to masturbate
- Forced homosexual acts
We cannot righteously condemn other countries and governments for doing things we do ~and~ don't criminalize or punish. It places our service women and men and any American in foreign custody in great peril if we do not act to hold those who were in charge accountable.
A simple [rhetorical] question for those who do not see these things as torture:
If any of these were to happen to you or a loved one, is it considered torture?
You are wrong, President Obama. And yes, this is personal.