What Senator John McCain modestly calls being “physically coerced” is more commonly referred to as torture. Whatever the Senator from Arizona calls it, his credibility is unassailable. He survived five years as a prisoner of war in Viet Nam during some of which he was subjected to what his new anti-torture bill in Congress wants to ban—“cruel, inhuman or degrading” treatment. McCain’s bill passed the Senate 90-9 and awaits review by the House, but the Bush Administration is opposed to such limits.
Since 9/11 and the War on Terror against Al Qaeda and similar forces, American agents and military personnel, with the blessings of the Bush Administration, have used so-called “enhanced” interrogation techniques to garner intelligence from detainees. Enhanced interrogation techniques, sometimes called “torture lite,” involve the use of dogs, public nakedness, prolonged isolation, sensory deprivation, detainee phobias, “waterboarding,” long term hooding, forced lengthy standing, squatting, or other physically stressful positioning—anything short of “organ failure” or death. The worst case scenario to date is what has been called abuses by rogue soldiers at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison.
“War is hell,” said General William Tecumseh Sherman in a famous Civil War line that describes all armed conflict. And during the final push ending World War II we discovered just how awful hell can be.
But the American soldier has always been different, so much so that noted historian Stephen E. Ambrose observed that German, Polish, and Russian troops fighting for the Nazi Army would at times eagerly surrender, knowing that Americans would treat them well and thus their chances of surviving the war were greatly increased.
The record of the American soldier is the G.I. with candy, the citizen soldier that just wanted to get the job done as soon as possible and go home. He or she hated war and might learn in combat to hate the enemy’s tactics but generally did not hate the people. Americans didn’t want territory; they wanted justice.
McCain wants to preserve this record. He doesn’t want troops from this nation to act like the enemy. He believes the U.S. military and intelligence agencies need rules, limits beyond which an officer cannot go in an attempt to extract information from a helpless prisoner. He believes mistreatment of enemy prisoners will ultimately place American prisoners of war at greater risk because the enemy will retaliate in kind. McCain argues that torture techniques really don’t provide that much actionable intelligence anyway. The point is, Americans have been and should continue to be different.
America should listen to John McCain. America needs to take the long view. It stands for values too precious to be muddied or lost in the storms of current conflict, however severe the test may be. Respect for life, individual dignity, and the inestimable value of the human being are Christian values that have, thankfully, become American values. Torture terribly sullies this picture.
Torture is an affront not only to human sensibility but to our very souls. The Word of God clearly draws a line at animal cruelty let alone abusive treatment to those made in the image of God. There are other ways to gain intelligence.
© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2005
This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part but with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers, President, Cornerstone University, or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/rexmrogers.
The beauty of Thanksgiving Day is that it is a time of reflection. It allows us to ponder what God has done in and through our lives and what he may yet wish to do.
I’m thankful God has allowed me to work since 1974, almost continuously, in Christian education and in particular since 1982 in Christian higher education. That was the year I earned my doctorate in Political Science with concentrations in Public Administration and Survey Research. I defended my dissertation on Friday the 13th in July of that year and began working as an Assistant Professor of Political Science at my alma mater, Cedarville University (OH), in September. Six years at Cedarville, then 3 years at The King’s College near New York City, and now almost 15 years at Cornerstone University have gone by quickly but fruitfully.
When people ask me what I do I generally answer, “I’m a Christian educator.” If they press me for more specifics, than I tell them about the presidency. Working as an educator in a Christian institution of higher learning is not a “better” calling than others, but it has always been an interesting one.
I like the eclectic nature of the task referred to as administrative leadership. One hour you focus on new building plans, the next on an academic issue, and the next on a visiting supporter of one of the school’s programs. And so it goes. I tell people that I used to “teach politics,” but now as a university president I practice it every day.
A key part of the role is to be gone, to be off campus, out of town, or out of state, visiting with people who support the university. It’s called “Advancement,” and it’s a matter of sharing the university’s mission with those whom God has moved to participate spiritually and financially. The best days in my point of view are the busiest days, the days you almost run from one appointment to the next. That’s a “President’s day.”
In today’s so-called postmodern culture—one in which the primary motivating idea is that there is no such thing as absolute moral truth—the Christian university occupies an important and potentially strategic platform. We believe in truth, what Francis A. Schaeffer used to call “True Truth” in order to make his point unmistakable. We believe in the One and the Way, we are not afraid to research, to question, or to learn because indeed “all truth is God’s truth.”
The Christian university faithful to its mission can be instrumental in developing students capable of influencing culture, today and tomorrow. That’s a lofty statement and a loftier goal. But the God of a biblically Christian university is a “Big” God. He and his purposes are lofty by definition. And on this Thanksgiving Day I am thankful that God has allowed me to play a small part in this lofty mission.
© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2005
This blog may be reproduce in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/rexmrogers.
Today is my Mother's 74th birthday. I am truly thankful on this Thanksgiving Day for a loving, caring, Christian mother. I could not have had a better one. Praise God for his gracious blessing.
© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2005
This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers, or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/rexmrogers.
In this inaugural web log I cast my vote for full disclosure. I am a “Christian,” a follower of Jesus Christ and, insofar as I am able, a proponent of a biblical worldview. This value system is how I interpret culture and the world in which I live. Affirming a biblical worldview liberates me to some extent from ideology and partisanship. I tend to be conservative—with a little “c”—on some things, while “moderate” or even “liberal” on others, whatever my understanding of a biblical worldview leads me to conclude on a particular issue.
While I may be conservative, I try to avoid doctrinaire Conservatism. While I may at times worship in a given denomination, I try to avoid denominationalism. While I may vote for Republicans or Democrats, I am more a proponent of the republic than Republicans, democracy than Democrats. I may support a party, but I generally don’t want to be driven by sheer partisanship.
That’s the beauty of a biblical worldview, of trying to live and think as Jesus would have me live and think—as he would live and think if he walked among us today. A biblical worldview critiques all of life. It calls to account all human thought and production. It compels me to keep learning and to keep applying my understanding of God’s unchanging revealed will in this rapidly changing world.
By God’s grace I want to live out my faith with good works that influence the world, maybe even transform it.
© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2005
This blog may be reproduce in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow at www.twitter.com/rexmrogers.