The response to my article in The Washington Post (I'm Still Tortured by What I Saw in Iraq) has been overwhelmingly supportive. Of hundreds of emails, only a few have been negative. Check out the below response from a reader. I think it sums up how my message of 'no torture' has been received across the country:
As someone who has a Master's Degree in Organizational and Social Psychology (even though I teach English!), I have often said "We, as humans -- as thinking, clever and conscience-laden social animals- MUST have devised a better alternative to torture, and to war, than what our current Neanderthal strategies would show."
Your article proved me right.
I asked my husband to read it aloud in our living room Sunday morning. (I know, it's hard to be both a teacher and a mom-- for my kids and husband that is!) In attendance were my three teenage boys (19, 17 and 13). Especially notable is that my 19 year old is a third year cadet at the Virginia Military Institute (ROTC- Marine Corps). His roommate from California was with us for Thanksgiving; also 19, a third year cadet and ROTC Marine Corps. Like many idealistic young men of their age, they are patriotic, but naive, with what I call a "video-game" mentality of serving their country. It's very "bad guy vs. good guy"; black and white kind of thinking -- although to VMI's credit as a liberal arts college, I've been impressed with the classes I've personally witnessed that show another view to life.
Your excellent article pointed out that there is much wisdom, and solid success, in using our brains; and in living in the shades of gray (not falling prey to stereotypical thinking).
My husband is a 30 veteran federal investigator from NYC -- he's dealt with his share of outlaws, and does have his stories of informants he befriended for the good of the investigation, rather than hammered them (metaphorically speaking, of course).
Final confession: I liked your article so much I am including it as part of my students' English final exam next week. They will read and annotate it, and then discuss the various ways your ethos, logos and pathos combine to form a persuasive argument, using Aristotle's criteria.
Thank you again for your insight, and for your courage in speaking out. I hope you have received supportive messages from those of us who see that patriotism does not just include a blind allegiance to policies that are a moral insult to the values of this country.