Torture Me, Torture You, Torture Us

     I wonder if Donald Trump has known any murder victims. Or any torture victims. And whether it would make a difference.
     A skinny little kid I taught in high school was beaten to death with rocks. He was Native American. The FBI, in a brilliant feat of ratiocination, called it suicide. He beat himself to death with his hands tied, the FBI said.
     I know some murderers, too.
     None of them ever told me that killing another human being is “so beautiful,” as Trump said — imagining out loud, on camera, before an adoring crowd, his role in the Orlando nightclub massacre.
     I cannot imagine any of the murderers I know suggesting that someone assassinate Hillary Clinton, because of whom she might appoint to the Supreme Court.
     If any of them did suggest it, they would be locked up. With reason.
     I married a torture victim. She’s insane now.
     Do you know what it’s like to look into the eyes of an insane person you love? Someone who no longer recognizes you?
     “Torture works,” Trump said more than once on the campaign trail. “Believe me, it works. We’re soft and we’re weak and we can’t be that.”
     Pardon me for lifting my weary head, but I know more about murder and torture than that spoiled brat knows or ever will know.
     But today I don’t worry about what Trump might do to the rest of the world if he is elected president.
     I worry about what he’s already done to us.
     Believe me, my 146 million fellow registered voters: We do not want to legitimize torture in the United States.
     Not just because of what it does to the victims — what it does to the torturers.
     Torture is an unpleasant subject, and — praise God for small favors — it’s a thing most of us know about only by hearsay, or from stupid TV shows.
     I met my first torture victims 32 years ago, during President Reagan’s wars against Central America. What they told me was so disturbing I quit teaching to do legal work in U.S. immigration prisons. You can read about it in my book, “Other People’s Blood.”
     But this is not a book plug. It’s a plea for understanding.
     Torture debases the soul of the torturer.
     There is no cause so noble, so glorious or so righteous, that it justifies one human being torturing another.
     I know people who tortured, on orders from their superiors.
     Do you know what that does to a man?
     I do. I saw them weep in front of me, in prison.
     I don’t care how demented and perverted the Muslim terrorists are — and they are demented and perverted — to allow a U.S. citizen to torture anyone — anywhere in the world, for whatever reason — debases the soul of the United States.
     To allow this, by overt presidential order, would infect the soul of the U.S. military with a virulent virus.
     If an Army torturer were brought to trial, for torturing with permission from the president, it could infect the soul of the Department of Justice with the same sickening virus.
     Then will come the schoolyard explanations.
     “Yeah, but … he hit me first … Communist!”
     The same sort of explanations we heard this week from spineless Republican Party spokesclones after Trump called for the assassination of Hillary Clinton.
     New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman responded to Trump’s incitement to murder in his usual calm and rational style, by calling Trump “a disgusting human being,” whose “children should be ashamed of him.”
     Friedman continued: “I only pray that he is not simply defeated, but that he loses all 50 states so that the message goes out across the land — unambiguously, loud and clear: The likes of you should never come this way again.”
     But the likes of him will come again. Oh, yes, they will. Look around.

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