Thursday, January 06, 2005

An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind

"You have heard that they were told, 'An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.' But what I tell you is this: Do not resist those who wrong you. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn and offer him the other also. If anyone wants to sue you and takes your shirt, let him have your cloak as well. If someone in authority presses you into service for one mile, go with him two." Matthew 5:38-41, REB

I am listening to the confirmation hearings for Alberto Gonzalez as I type, and the focus, not surprisingly, is on torture. The prevailing theme is that even torture is justified, if the enemy is vile enough. Sen. Orrin Hatch stated it clearly: the U.S. faces an enemy that wants to destroy our way of life, and anything we do in response to them is, therefore, justified.

But Israel in the time of Jesus faced as formidable a foe. Crucifixion is one of the most brutal forms of execution humankind has ever devised, and Rome used it freely in order to repress any political dissent. Indeed, the very reasoning employed by Sen. Hatch would have been familiar to Pontius Pilate. Any threat to the Pax Romana was a threat to Rome's way of life, and had to be exterminated. Even if that threat was an itinerant rabbi from a Palestinian backwater, preaching in an outlying Roman region to small crowds.

We don't need to consider this a "Christian nation" to see that there is nothing "moral" about any defense of torture, any justification of the prosecution of the "war on terror" declared by this Administration, or any argument that the enemy we face is not human, but demonic. We don't need to call ourselves "Christian," in order to see we are throwing away our humanity.

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