Bonhoeffer Says, "Don’t torture thy enemies."

Whether or not the former Attorney General believes America is actually torturing detainees, Deitrich Bonhoeffer, a man who certainly encountered his fair share or torture after penning these words, has some harsh words for us regarding the use of this practice:

“Torture is, in any case, generally an ineffectual means for discovering the truth; though, of course, this argument  can have force only in cases where it is really the truth that is being sought for. But, quite apart from that, any physical torture inflicts the most extreme dishonour on the human being, and consequently engenders an intense hatred and the natural bodily impulse to restore this wounded honour by the application of bodily force. Bodily dishonour seeks to avenge itself on the body of the infamous tormentor. In this way the violation of man’s bodily freedom once again destroys the foundations of society” (Ethics 183). 

In other words, the use of the torture by the CIA, Justice Department, and any other branch of the US government actually undermines the premise under which such barbarity is justified: we are making America safe. In actuality, we are simply feeding the fire, fanning the flames, and justifying morally reprehensible actions.

May we repent.

May God forgive us.

3 thoughts on “Bonhoeffer Says, "Don’t torture thy enemies."

  1. donnie

    Yeah and heeding Bonhoeffer’s words on this topic is particularly important. We shouldn’t divorce the biography of the thinker from the thinker’s thoughts – he new what torture was about and he knew the darkness of the human condition in the midst of such “political” discourse.

    I like this post – great job.

  2. ed Post author

    Thanks! I have been searching the BBC radio’s archives for this fantastic interview I heard with a former extremist in Britain. He said that many of the ways America is fighting terrorism is simply giving these movements “oxygen.” Through education, dialog and the pursuit of justice he proposed taking away that oxygen.

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