Thursday, January 18, 2007

We Get What We Tolerate

To become truly great, one has to stand with people, not above them.

~Charles de Montesquieu, remembered for his articulation of the theory of separation of powers. Born 318 years ago today.

Response to Charles Stimson's apology for his attack on law firms representing Guantanamo detainees, in which he asserts:
Regrettably, my comments left the impression that I question the integrity of those engaged in the zealous defense of detainees in Guantanamo.

To the contrary, Mr. Stimson: Your comments leave the impression that you've made up your mind that the detainees at Guantanamo are guilty, and by extension, so is every suspect detained on charges of terrorism.

It's understandable. It would appear that you have only a hammer, and so this issue may look like a nail to you. Your obvious arrogance and disregard for the rights of these unfortunate human beings leaves us wondering whether anything more than the grace of God separates us from those unfortunate enough to be ensnared in the War on Terror.

Whether the stories about some number of the Guantanamo detainees having been turned in for a bounty are true, simple statistics dictate that some fraction of them are innocent. I understand that you're an experienced and elite jurist. You don't seem to understand that the vast majority of the citizens of these United States believe deeply in the principle of "innocent until proven guilty." Notice that many of us react accordingly to injustice in other countries who do not recognize this maxim. We claim it as our right, and we expect the rest of the world to eventually come to the same conclusion.

Yet remarks like yours suggest that our most powerful leaders do not believe as we do. Your remarks come across as very telling to us, and reinforce our fears that our Government is neither by, for, nor of the people. You will be remembered for contributing gravity to the argument that we are being led by nothing more than a cabal of disconnected elites who view us as pawns to be manipulated.

Most of us understand that we get what we tolerate. Our patience is wearing thin.

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