My wife received an email yesterday at work from a co-worker who thought it was "too good not to pass along".
The email is a fake letter from the White House to an unnamed liberal who had been complaining about the Bush Administration’s treatment of prisoners. The email describes a hypothetical response whereby the liberal was enlisted in the LARK program.
LARK stands for “Liberals Accept Responsibility for Killers.”
The program is described as one that places terrorists in the homes of liberals concerned with their treatment. In this case, the complainer was matched with Ahmed, a “sociopathic and extremely violent” individual trained to kill with a pencil, nail clipper, or common household products. His tendency to react violently to women who are not appropriately dressed result in a recommendation that the liberals wear bhurkas.
“Just remind them that it is all part of respecting his beliefs,” the letter says.
Who is the Sociopath?
What is the function of this article? It exists as a tool for creating an emotional reaction that will generate hatred, and the behavior associated with hatred, against anybody who would dare protest the brutal treatment of prisoners.
The problem here is that the story depends on lies, bigotry, and a desire to do harm – traits that good people have no reason to want to encourage.
It is at least a mark of consistency that the person who would have such fantasies of the brutal treatment of a liberal family is not going to mind the brutal treatment of a Muslim. Consequently, he is not going to be inclined to find anything objectionable with the brutal treatment of prisoners.
However, this consistency is exactly what is wrong with this type of interest. The person who finds the brutal of treatment of prisoners to be to his liking may easily find the brutal treatment of anybody he does not like to be to his liking. He is not likely to be the type of person who will contribute to making the world a safer place for people to live.
On the other hand, somebody who is inclined to protest the brutal treatment of prisoners is also somebody who is not very likely to brutalize us if he is given a chance. Instead, he is as likely, if not more likely, to protest our own brutalization. He is likely to be a protector and defender.
Another moral failing exhibited in this email is that of presuming guilt. The letter tells us to accept the brutal treatment of Ahmed because of the type of person he is. It also tells us to accept the brutal of all prisoners. This only follows if we accept the conclusion that what is true of Ahmed is true of all prisoners.
The email assumes, "If Bush says that you are a terrorist, than you are a terrorist." This assumption is as reasonable as believing "If Bush says that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction, than Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction" or "If Bush says that he will not spy on Americans without a warrant, than he will not spy on Americans without a warrant."
We already know that President Bush and his administration have a low regard for the truth, and a poor record when it comes to determining who is guilty and who is not.
The assumption that those who embrace the message of this letter must accept is an assumption so far removed from the truth that only those blinded by the most hateful bigotry could accept it as reasonable.
The bigotry is magnified by the fact that the letter does stop at saying that all prisoners are sociopaths and extremely violent. It condemns the liberal who would show respect for Muslims and their culture. We are being told not only to fear the prisoners, but to fear Muslims.
It is this point that my wife reacted to most strongly when she saw the letter – the statement, “Just remind them that this is a part of respecting his beliefs,” as if showing respect for a religious view one does not share is a contemptible act.
The Quality of a Person
In short, we can reasonably infer that those who embrace the tone of this letter are those who hate, who have no respect for truth, and who find pleasure in the suffering of others.
On the other hand, I would suggest that the person who has a love of truth, a concern for the well-being of others to the degree that he cannot enjoy their suffering, a willingness to see people judged as individuals, an attitude of respect for others even if they do not share the same religious beliefs, a dislike for allowing a single individual with demonstrably poor reasoning ability to determine who is a terrorist and who is not, and a distaste for subjecting people to brutal treatment without some measure of proof that it is necessary . . . that type of person would have a problem with this message.
And that when it comes to trying to decide with whom it is best to trust the welfare of ourselves and those we care about, the second type of person is a far better person – a more moral person – than the first.
Of course, I expect the rebuttal to my comments were made, "This was not meant to be taken seriously. It was a joke.
Yet, this type of response fits in the same moral category as the person who says, "I was not stealing the car, I was only borrowing it," or "We are not torturing prisoners, we are just asking them a few questions," while standing over a bloody and broken prisoner.
No, it is not a joke, and it is wrong to try to call it something other than what it is.