Monday, October 02, 2006

Churchill and the Golden Rule

"So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets."
-Matthew 7:12, aka The Golden Rule

Niall Ferguson writes in today's LA Times about the recent bill passed by Congress that might very well allow torture. He cites examples of countries like Japan, which during WWII reinterpreted the Geneva Convention to treat POW's rather inhumanely.

Ferguson does understand why Congress and the American public in general might support torture. I understand it as well: we are only five years after the nightmare of 9/11 and frankly, we are scared. But Ferguson also notes that while these law might make Americans feel safe, it might very well expose us to torture. He cites why a very famous conservative opposed torturing his enemies:

...Winston Churchill insisted throughout the war, treating POWs well is wise, if only to increase the chances that your own men will be well treated if they too are captured. Even in World War II, there was in fact a high degree of reciprocity. The British treated Germans POWs well and were well treated by the Germans in return; the Germans treated Russian POWs abysmally and got their bloody deserts when the tables were turned.

Few, if any, American soldiers currently find themselves in enemy hands. But in the long war on which Bush has embarked, that may not always be the case. The bottom line about mistreating captive foes is simple: It is that what goes around comes around. And you don't have to be a closet liberal to understand that.

In short, Churchill lived by the Golden Rule; act how you would like to be treated. What's interesting is that today's so-called "conservatives" seem to talk a lot about the Bible and yet don't live out some of the words that Jesus said.


1 comment:

Halfback Jack said...

It would seem that a lot of the right-wingers are living by the "other" Golden Rule: "She/He who has the gold, rules." That approach has left this country divided and disenchanted.

[For more information on this interpretation of the "other" Golden Rule, see "You're doing a heckuva job Brownie."]

What leaves many of us shaking our heads is that the right-wing of the Republican Party attempts to portray themselves as somehow being "better" than the rest of us in the center (in my own case) and certainly those on the left side of the political spectrum. To rub salt in the wound, they leave many outside the US with the attitude that they are better than ANYONE else on this planet. It is this arrogant attitude that seems to define us as a country to many others in the world.

Sir Winston Churchill was a true example of a statesman who successfully put the needs of all Britons and his country above partisan rhetoric. Sadly, our current leadership (not just Dubya) is more concerned about their own image.

If we succumb to the temptation to legalize torture in the name of "preventing terrorism," aren't we really just stooping to their level?

"Democracy is the only form of government where the people get exactly what they deserve."

-Sir Winston Churchill