Thursday, July 05, 2007

Torture and High School Students

High Schoolers Who Confronted Bush On Torture Tell Their Story
By Adam Howard
Posted on July 4, 2007, Printed on July 5, 2007

If the Libby commutation and the ongoing war in Iraq and well everything being perpetrated by our president and his goons has you in a bummer of a mood on this Fourth of July, than the video to your right should cure what ails you. Like many progressives, I was thrilled and moved by the actions taken by 50 brave and bold high school scholars, who seized an opportunity to confront the president with a letter calling for an end to our policy of torture, during what was supposed to be a routine photo op. With their simple, eloquent plea they gave voice to the millions of Americans who Bush ignores and managed to be more direct and confrontational then many of the congressmen and congresswomen who were elected in 2006 specifically to take the Administration to task on issues such as these have been.

The handwritten letter said the students "believe we have a responsibility to voice our convictions."

"We do not want America to represent torture. We urge you to do all in your power to stop violations of the human rights of detainees, to cease illegal renditions, and to apply the Geneva Convention to all detainees, including those designated enemy combatants," the letter said.

Until now, the presidential high school scholars have been an anonymous mass of students. In this interview with Amy Goodman, Mari Oye, who personally handed the letter to Bush and whose family experienced the horrors of Japanese internment during WWII and Leah Anthony Libresco who along with Oye and a handful of others co-wrote the letter, tell their side of the story. Libresco says, "If I was going to be alone with the president I had to say something, because silence betokens consent and there's a lot going on right now that I don't want to consent to." Exactly. Why do these high school students, who are admittedly extremely intelligent and articulate, but still very young, understand this and our representatives in Congress do not?

I don't think it's that they're just playing politics. I don't think torture is a winner for the Republicans as an issue. It seems as if they simply just don't care about the lives of the people enduring this abuse. This indifference to brutal violence is characteristic of this administration. But also the Democrats in Congress and much of the public at large has sat quiet on this issue. I can only hope that these two young women are exemplary of the kind of generation that will come to power in the ensuing years.

Personally, as a young person (I'm 25), I am just really proud of the action being taken by young Americans right now, not just in terms of registering new voters and becoming more engaged in the political process but also by directly confronting our so-called leaders for their lies, when nobody else will. Bush apparently was dumbfounded by the scholars' letter. He just repeatedly "America doesn't torture" again and again after he read it. Of course he was dumbfounded, the president has so often embraced lies that he doesn't now how to handle the truth.

Adam Howard is the editor of PEEK.

© 2007 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
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