This post is part of the Favorite Founders’ Quote Friday meme. Go to Meet the Founding Fathers to see who else has participated today.
My quote this week doesn’t specifically address the Bill of Rights, as it had not yet been adopted when these words were spoken, but it does address the spirit behind our first ten amendments. Here, then, is George Washington in his First Inaugural Address. (1789) [emphasis added]
By the article establishing the executive department it is made the duty of the President “to recommend to your consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and
expedient.” The circumstances under which I now meet you will acquit me from entering into that subject further than to refer to the great constitutional charter under which you are assembled, and which, in defining your powers, designates the objects to which your attention is to be given. It will be more consistent with those circumstances, and far more congenial with the feelings which actuateme, to substitute, in place of a recommendation of particular measures, the tribute that is due to the talents, the rectitude, and the patriotism which adorn the characters selected to devise and adopt them. In these honorable qualifications I behold the surest pledges that as on one side no local prejudices or attachments, no separate views nor party animosities, will misdirect the comprehensive and equal eye which ought to watch over this great assemblage of communities and interests, so, on another, that the foundation of our national policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles of private morality, and the preeminence of free government be exemplified by all the attributes which can win the affections of its citizens and command the respect of the world. I dwell on this prospect with every satisfaction which an ardentlove for my country can inspire, since there is no truth more thoroughly established than that there exists in the economy and course of nature an indissolubleunion between virtue and happiness; between duty and advantage; between the genuine maximsof an honest and magnanimouspolicy and the solid rewards of public prosperity and felicity; since we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained; and since the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government are justly considered, perhaps, as deeply, as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.
Because he has a troubled conscience, Brandon Neely has publicly testified about his time as a guard at Gitmo. Speaking to the Guantanamo Testimonials Project, his 15,000 word account provides details on the following:
the arrival of the detainees in full sensory-deprivation garb, sexual abuse by medical personnel, torture by other medical personnel, brutal beatings out of frustration, fear, and retribution, the first hunger strike and its causes, torturous shackling, positional torture, interference with religious practices and beliefs, verbal abuse, restriction of recreation, the behavior of mentally ill detainees, possible isolation regime of the first six children in GTMO
He describes body searches undertaken for no legitimate security purpose, simply to sexually invade and humiliate the prisoners. This was a standardized Bush Administration tactic-the importance of which became apparent to me when I participated in some Capitol Hill negotiations with White House representatives relating to legislation creating criminal law accountability for contractors. The Bush White House vehemently objected to provisions of the law dealing with rape by instrumentality. When House negotiators pressed to know why, they were met first with silence and then an embarrassed acknowledgement that a key part of the Bush program included invasion of the bodies of prisoners in a way that might be deemed rape by instrumentality under existing federal and state criminal statutes. While these techniques have long been known, the role of health care professionals in implementing them is shocking.
It’s hard to reconcile Washington’s words of morality, honesty, and virtue with these accounts of brutality, abuse, and sexual torture. It’s harder still to believe that the God who calls us to love our brother has not obliterated our nation. I believe the only thing that accounts for this is God’s incredible patience and His desire that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. But God will not strive with man forever.
Our Bill of Rights recognizes the God-given rights of the individual. If we the people do not demand justice for our White-House-directed violation of these rights, because Obama has already indicated that he won’t; if we the people do not confess our sins against humanity to Almighty God and plead for the forgiveness found in Jesus Christ, but arrogantly continue to declare that we are the champions of right; then God will judge our nation. He will bring us to our knees until every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord.